10 Things You Need to Know About PCB Assembly Costs

PCB assembly cost include the cost of labor, turnaround time, technology, and the quantity of PCBs needed. Technicians and engineers alike often wonder regarding the price of a printed circuit board or how they can go about minimizing the costs of their current assembly operations.


Overall, though, the cost of PCB assembly varies depending on the manufacturer, and the total number of units manufactured.


Below is a breakdown of 10 factors that affect the cost of manufacturing printed circuit boards.

PCB assembly costs include the cost of labor, turnaround time, technology, and the quantity of PCBs needed. Technicians and engineers often wonder about the price of a printed circuit board or how they can minimize the costs of their current assembly operations.

Overall, though, the PCB assembly cost varies depending on the manufacturer and the total number of units manufactured.

Below is a breakdown of 10 factors that affect the cost of manufacturing printed circuit boards.

PCB Assembly Costs–Labor Costs

The geographical location in which the actual production takes place PCBs brings about increased labor costs. The manufacture of printed circuit boards requires skilled human operations and automated machinery, which increases labor costs. For this reason, manufacturing firms have an incentive to make such boards in locations where labor is relatively cheaper. 

For example, a PCB assembled in South Asia is several times less cheap than that one assembled in Western Europe or North America. Assuming a turnaround time of three days, the average costs of assembly in North America roughly stands at $1,100 compared to $545 in the People’s Republic of China. It is important to note that overseas manufacturing will drive up costs because of handling, shipping, and communication delays.

But again, cheap production may come with unforeseen costs that you must factor in before contracting an overseas producer. 

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PCB Assembly Costs–Cost of Automated Assembly

Automated assembly uses motorized and mechanized devices to carry out several assembly tasks in an assembly cell or line. The vast majority of mechanical assembly manufacturing companies find it manufactured according to a product’s fixed mounting order.

With technology continuing to advance, printed circuit boards are now becoming much more comfortable to manufacture in mass and assemble due to machines’ automation. 

But with automated machines, the cost of assembling printed circuit boards somewhat increases.

The cost of a PCB assembly will depend on mechanized devices used to join them. Sophisticated mechanized tools will see such prices rising as opposed to simple automated SMT). This will make it easy for a pick and place machine to easily pick and place the components on the PCB (PCB assembly machines. 

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PCB Assembly Costs–Process Cost Drivers

When it comes to the manufacture or assembly of printed circuit boards, all additional process steps come with extra costs. Process costs go a long way in affecting the printed circuit board’s overall cost regardless of the manufacturing firm. For instance, if a printed circuit board undergoes some rapid inspection and testing during assembly, the finished product’s overall price will be slightly higher.

All the additional process steps have some associated costs in terms of materials, process times, energy, consumables, and waste treatment. Once such charges get designed in, it becomes very challenging, if not impossible, to minimize the damage without undertaking some re-design.

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PCB Assembly Costs–Quantity

When it comes to production or manufacturing, higher volumes bring about lower assembly costs due to economies of scale. In short, when a manufacturing firm produces goods on a large scale, the unit per price of each product drops significantly.

The same is also true when it comes to the manufacture of printed circuit boards. This economic phenomenon takes place since most of the factors that make assembly prices go up, such as programming and startup costs, only impact the initial units that get manufactured. 

By increasing the number of printed circuit boards, manufacturing companies can save a lot of money in the long-run as they’ll be doing away with one-time costs that do not require reproduction. Therefore, you need to work with manufacturers who can comfortably accommodate large volumes.

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PCB Assembly Costs–Turnaround Time and Delivery Time

When asked, “what is the cost of SMT). This will make it easy for a pick and place machine to easily pick and place the components on the PCB (PCB assembly?” an immediate response that comes to mind is: what is the projected or expected turnaround and delivery time? Turnaround time is the period that’s required to complete the entire manufacturing process and leave a customer satisfied. As a rule, increased costs come with speedy turnaround times.

Customers that demand short turnaround and delivery time can drive the assembly costs of printed circuit boards by close to one-third –around 33% or more-. Quick turnaround and delivery times somewhat increase assembly costs since it often requires printed circuit board manufacturing companies to put a hold on the current orders that they are handling and prioritize on yours.

Likewise, expedited shipping, which tends to shorten the turnaround time, tends to cost more than regular shipping.

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PCB Assembly Costs–Material Packaging

When it comes to the assembly of printed circuit boards, some parts require intensive labor to package and assemble as needed. For instance, some electric equipment such as BGAs needs additional time and effort to package since they need careful connections to a source of electricity.

Since these BGAs consist of electrical pins, there are high chances of assembly costs shooting up dramatically. The reason because they have to undergo an X-ray examination meant for checking short-circuit issues.

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PCB Assembly Costs–Special Parts Preparation Requirements

All the electronic devices that we use daily consist of several different components. These parts work together to bring about the desired effect. When you look at a printed circuit board, you’ll notice that such boards consist of several different components that all work together to bring about the board’s desired functionality.

There are different types of printed circuit boards, and some of them, such as a flexible printed circuit board, require different parts. For instance, flexible printed circuit boards are made a little bit different than the rest, and their components may drive up the overall cost of the printed circuit board in the end. But regardless of the type of board, there are several essential parts whose preparation will increase the final printed circuit board’s value.  

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PCB Assembly Costs–Unclear BOM Rows

A BOM row containing several occurrences of a specific item sharing a single source or parent. However, they have a single or more BOM row properties consisting of different values. These different values can include, though not limited to, description, quantity, and length. When it comes to the manufacture of printed circuit boards, there are some of the essential things that manufacturers need to include in their BOM rows.

Some of the things to include in BOM rows include the part number, part name, material, color, description, quantity, unit, and unit price. Unfortunately, a majority of printed circuit board manufacturing firms have in place unclear BOM rows.

It becomes difficult to establish the actual price of components used in manufacturing printed circuit boards with unclear BOM rows. With this, there are chances of component overestimation, an aspect that leads to increased printed circuit board assembly costs.

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PCB Assembly Costs–Comprehensive Bill of Materials

If printed circuit board manufacturing companies want to reduce the costs associated with printed circuit board assembly, they must have a complete bill of materials (BOM) that contains all the components and sub-assemblies needed to produce printed circuit boards. Manufacturing firms can rely on plenty of PCB design checklists to determine whether their BOM includes the necessary items required to assemble the PCB.

Some essential items include reference designators, part numbers, SMT method, BOM level, manufacturer name, and footprints. An excellent bill of materials must have replacement parts for every component.

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PCB Assembly Costs– Engineering Support

Concerning the manufacture of a product, engineering support encompasses all activities related to the design, production, and undertaking of specific changes to a product. Engineering support means addressing critical issues such as product quality, testing the items, and ensuring that the product functions as desired before being put up for sale.

When it comes to engineering support, the critical point is to coordinate the participants while availing each engineer a workstation to work independently on a given task.

When it comes to producing printed circuit boards, engineering support will see a board’s cost going slightly higher. A majority of companies that manufacture printed circuit boards that are supposed to function without failure have a team of professional support engineers whose task is to look for problems in a board and solve them.

A correct PCB service provider. Thankfully, there are various PCB manufacturing firm that provides engineering support will sell its boards at a slightly higher price than the one that lacks such support.

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Lately, PCB manufacturing costs seem to have increased tremendously, with today’s manufacturers using specialized equipment to assemble boards that meet several application requirements. This brings about an increase in overall production costs. Looking around, you’ll notice that several PCB manufacturers employ some tactics aimed at reducing costs.

We at WellPCB specialize in low-cost PCB assembly. We have a group of qualified and industry-tested engineers with a clear understanding of the need to keep the costs low without compromising the quality of assembling the board. If you require low-cost PCB assembly services, please get in touch with us at your earliest convenience.

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Emma Lu
Our professional engineering support saves our customers a lot of trouble and loss. >>>>>> After you place the order, our engineer will conduct technical reviews to make sure the parts can be mounted well/correctly on the boards. We will check if the component packages match well with the Gerber footprints, if the part numbers you provided match well with the descriptions, and if the polarity is clearly marked. >>>>> When your design is ready, please send your Gerber and BOM so we can quote and start!