Frequently Asked Questions
The cost of a printed circuit is really a combination of three factors:
1) The size and specifications of the bare (PCB) Printed Circuit Board.
2) The number of individual electronic components needed on the board or within the box builds.
3) The labor time and equipment needed to manufacture that build/product.
Each bare printed circuit board is different and customized based upon the layout of the electrical components and the size dimensions the board needs to be limited to. PCB’s can come in a variety of materials as well as having multiple layers and metals used for the circuitry i.e. copper/gold. We typically find the majority of PCB designs involve a FR4 material and contain 1-4 layers. Green solder mask is typically used to color the board and white silk screen for any text on the surface. These details are custom to design and function of the board and can all affect the cost. We manufacture with PCB’s that are as little as 1 inch and cost .50 cents and some that are 17 x 14 inches and can cost upwards of $50-$100 dollars. Bare PCB’s are often the leading cost driver of most circuit board bill of materials.
The number of components in a build greatly determines the cost. Not only the quantity of components is important but the type of component and it’s frequency on the board can very greatly.
Passive components generally make up the majority of a board’s materials. These components involve resistors, potentiometers, capacitors, inductors, connectors, relays, and transformers. The vast majority of these components are relatively inexpensive, often under $1 dollar, with many being a few cents each. Transformers, connectors, relays and any custom made compoenent can be the exceptions to the rule, all depending on the function they’re required to perform within the circuit.
Active Components require a source of energy to perform their function and typically most printed circuit boards contain at least one active component. Diodes, Transistors, Displays, and Integrated Circuits (IC’s) are all commonly used active components. The price range of these components can vary greatly and for complex IC’s containing CPU can sometimes cost more than the cost of the printed circuit board itself. The price of an IC all depends on it’s required function and availability. Older components that a design is built around will typically be more expensive than newer, commonly produced, components due to their scarcity. The age of board, design, and bill of materials can also impact the cost.
At Qualtech we currently build circuit board assemblies that contain 1-2 components and some that contain over 1,000 individual components per board.
Manufacturing Time and Equipment is all based upon the factors mentioned above in relation to the complexity of the circuit board, the number of components it involves and the method of which these components are installed. In addition to circuit boards, hand soldering, and wiring we supply many customers with complete “turn-key” box builds which often invoves and printed circuit assembly within a compete units. Whether it be a control box, or a wired system of circuit boards, or hand held consumer products we have the capacity and technology to do it all. Delivering full “turn-key” electronic products to our end customers in addition to just electronic manufacturing boards allows us to add value as a supplier and often involves customer work centers developed around a specific product’s needs. This element is highly customized based upon the design and function of the complete unit, but cost and time is ultimately derived from the equipment needed to bring everything together and skilled labor it takes to do so. We specialize in efficient manufacturing and reducing time and cost in product builds. We work to constantly improve the manfucturing processes for cost savings to pass on to the customer and produce more in a shorter time period. We love to help in the early stages of product development with customers to help “design for manufacturability” allowing for quicker manufacturing time and lower cost.