Most of us, nowadays, take electronic goods, particularly computers and printers, for granted. If our computer malfunctions and if diagnosis shows that the fault is with its PCB (Printed Circuit Board), we first contact a specialist and try to get the board repaired. However, considering the multiple layers that modern PCBs have, it is always better to replace them. Therefore, we visit stores selling computer parts and purchase a motherboard from there. Different companies offer motherboards of the same configuration at different prices. However, none of us ever bother to check the profit margin of the manufacturer or try to find out the costs involved in manufacturing a printed circuit board and why do their prices fluctuate. Let us try to find that out.
The manufacturing process of the PCB requires several steps, resources, and man-hours. These green colored small boards containing maze like patterns of copper needs to be manufactured with extreme care… down to the tiniest detail. Even a miniscule error could result in the malfunctioning of the PCB board.
As manufacturers of electronic goods submit their design to the manufacturer of the PCB, they keep in mind all of the factors that contribute to the overall cost of the board. This includes the size of the board, its thickness, its quality, as well as the number of connections. Manufacturers typically design the PCB using special software and simulate its function on a computer to ensure that the circuits are working properly, before handing over the blueprint to the PCB board manufacturer. Here are details of factors, which play a huge role in contributing to the final price of the PCB. Do not forget that there are primary and secondary costs to consider when manufacturing a PCB. The secondary costs depend on the transistors, crystals, condensers, and other stuff such as connector ports. Here are some of the primary factors.
Size, number of layers and holes
The greater the number of layers in the PCB, the higher its manufacturing costs. Additional materials and resources are required to manufacture a multi layered PCB board, when compared with a board that consists of just one layer. This escalates the price of the former. The complexity of the board along with the number of layers it contains directly influences its price. To help with the alignment process, manufacturers drill tiny holes into the different layers of the board. These holes are also required for electrical connections between the different layers. The cost of the board is also dictated by the type of hole required such as through holes, buried vias holes, and blind vias holes. The size of the hole is significant too, as it determines which machine will be used to drill them. Extremely tiny holes demands laser drilling which escalates the price of the board further.
Time is money when manufacturing a PCB. This depends on the complexity of the board. The more complex the design of the board, the more time it will require to manufacture. This significantly increases the cost of the board.
Spacing, width, and type of material
Expect to pay much more if your board’s design necessities minimum amount of space. The same rule applies to the width of the PCB. A PCB with a finer width costs more than those with a thicker width.
The materials required to manufacture the PCB will influence its price. Materials brought together with the epoxy resin and fiberglass are the most common material used. If you want gold plated connectors on the board, expect to pay more. This thickness of the board also plays a decisive role as the printed circuit boards require copper. The greater the thickness, the higher the manufacturing cost. The type of surface finish (silver, nickel, tin, and gold) also increases the PCB’s cost and so does the quantity ordered. Expect to pay less per board if you order them in huge quantities.
These are the primary PCB costs involved in manufacturing a printed circuit board. We have not yet taken into account the packaging and shipping costs.