PCB Design: 7 Cost-Saving Tips and Tricks

May 17, 2023
PCB design: 7 cost-saving tips and tricks

Did you know it was possible to save money during the PCB design process?

In many cases, people assume that it is always necessary to spend a considerable amount of money to get a high-quality product. In several scenarios, it is certainly true that you get what you pay for, especially when it comes to products involving complex manufacturing processes like printed circuit boards (PCBs).

Since there are so many steps in this process involving both complicated machinery and skilled labour, one may assume that it is definitely going to be costly. However, you do not necessarily have to break the bank just to get a product that will meet your expectations.

Although it is true that the PCB design and manufacturing process is unavoidably complex, surprisingly, there are ways to cut down on your costs without compromising the quality of your PCBs. By avoiding unnecessary complexity and errors in the PCB design, you could end up saving a considerable amount of money when it comes time for your PCB manufacturing in Toronto.

If you apply some practical tips and tricks to your PCB design process, it could save you money that could be better spent in other areas, undeniably benefitting your bottom line.

The Best Tips to Save Money on PCB Design

No matter what kind of business you run or how well it is doing, it is almost impossible to pass up on some possible savings, as having a little bit of extra capital is never a bad thing.

By applying the following practical PCB design tips and tricks, that is exactly what you can do the next time you need to design and manufacture printed circuit boards:

1. Keep the size of your circuit board to a minimum

This may not be surprising, but limiting the size of your circuit board can reduce its manufacturing costs by a considerable amount. So, it is always a good idea to keep the size of the board smaller.

Note, however, that if you make your board too small, it will be necessary for a manufacturer to use incredibly precise equipment to assemble everything, which could end up having the opposite effect and costing you more. Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a balance between a board that is not too big, but not too small either.

2. Refrain from skimping on quality materials

We know what you’re thinking: this suggestion may seem counterintuitive, as the idea here is to save money, right? While that may be the case, you should think twice before opting for cheaper substitute materials for your layer stack. Going with the cheaper option increases the chances of them failing within days, weeks, or months after the device is in use.

Although purchasing and using cheaper materials may save you money upfront, it will almost definitely cost you more in the long run if the end product winds up being useless and needs to be completely redone. Thus, choosing standard, quality materials is always a good idea.

3. Use standard board shapes

The only time that you should stray away from standard circuit board shapes is if you have a uniquely-shaped enclosure that your PCB must fit in. Otherwise, it is always a good idea to stick with square- and rectangular-shaped designs for your PCB. As soon as you start messing around with more complicated board shapes, it tends to cause your manufacturing costs to soar through the roof.

For similar reasons, it is also best to avoid adding any internal cutouts to your PCB design unless it must be mounted to an enclosure.

4. Stay within minimum spacing requirements

The smaller the spaces are between the copper objects on your PCB, like pads and tracks, the higher your manufacturing costs will be. This is because more precise manufacturing machinery will be necessary if there are many things packed into smaller areas.

The standard set of spacing requirements for most fab houses is roughly 8-10 mils (at minimum) between pads, tracks, and track widths. That is the figure you should stick to if you want to keep your costs down.

5. Use the largest possible diameter for holes

Having small holes and annular rings is another factor that will result in higher manufacturing costs since that would be yet another reason for precise machinery to be required.

In many cases, you may be charged extra if your holes are smaller than 0.4 mm. To be sure, however, you can contact your manufacturer to inquire about this issue. To be on the safe side, make the diameter of your holes as wide as you can afford to help minimize your costs.

6. Hold back on adding extra layers

You may be tempted to add several additional layers to your design so that you may have more routing space, power planes, or improved performance, but this is another way to unnecessarily drive up your manufacturing costs. It will cost you twice as much to manufacture a four-layer board versus a two-layer board.

Thus, the best approach is to keep your design compact and only use as many layers as necessary, even if that means that your board’s size has to be a bit larger.

7. Stick to industry sizes and components

The main reason why there is a standardized set of sizes and components used within the electronics industry is that it makes things easier by improving efficiency. Using industry standard size specifications improves the potential for automation when it comes to the manufacturing process, which usually also means cost savings.

When your manufacturer must assemble your strangely-sized components by hand, it is inevitably going to take longer, which will increase your overall costs.

How You Can Save Money on Your PCB Design Process by Working With Circuits Central

If you need PCB manufacturing in Toronto and you want to save money wherever possible, our seasoned experts at Circuits Central can help you do just that in a variety of ways.

As you may have gathered from some of the tips mentioned above, the key to saving money on PCB manufacturing lies in creating an optimal PCB design that can be easily and efficiently produced. Our design team can make such a design possible without compromising quality in the slightest. We will work closely with you to ensure that all of your needs are met during the design process, and will offer suggestions on areas for improvement whenever necessary.

Since we have many years of experience in PCB manufacturing, we know exactly what aspects of your design may need to be altered or modified to simplify the manufacturing process. Therefore, we will make optimal design choices at every step of the process, from the layout to development to testing.

For more information about the ways that we can help with your PCB design and manufacturing processes, or to learn more about the costs of our various services, call Circuits Central at 1 (888) 602-7264 or email us at info@circuits-central.com.

0   Comment
Leave A Comment