Whether you are an inventor dreaming about marketing your next big gadget or an established manufacturer looking to launch a new product, sooner or later you will encounter the mystical abbreviation PCB. It stands for printed circuit board and it is all around us. What do an MP3 player, DVD writer, TV set and a NASA space-ship have in common? They all have a circuit board that holds and connects all the necessary components. The majority of boards used today consist of multiple layers to be able to house more components on less footage.
How much does multilayer PCB fabrication cost?
Multilayer PCB fabrication is not an expensive process any more. The technology has advanced significantly and as more companies start offering printing, the prices go down.
As an example, let’s take a simple 2 by 4 inch circuit board with 4 layers. Let’s assume it is meant for household electronics – therefore no special materials required. There will usually be a first time setup fee, which is necessary for the engineers to work and adjust your Gerber files and set up the printing machines. Despite of work involved, the setup fee will rarely exceed $200. Still, it will be higher for sophisticated layouts.
Unit prices depend on materials used, necessity to bore holes and passages and other factors. In a similar way to book publishing and other printing jobs, the more you order, the cheaper you get. A test batch of 100 boards can cost more than $2 per unit. Ordering more than 10,000 you bring the unit price closer to one dollar. High-temperature materials usually tend to double the unit price, however, when you need it you just have to go with it. Saving money on materials may make the difference between success and failure of your product.
Cheapest is not always the best!
Continuing to talk about success, you also have to make sure you choose the multilayer PCB fabrication company with a proven track record. Although many start-up entrepreneurs and product inventors try to save money and send their boards to be manufactured in Asian countries with China PCB fabrication companies, they rarely notice that there are local companies offering much better quality. The price difference is not that big because multilayer PCB fabrication process is almost completely automated and the human resources involved are pretty low. There are great electronics companies in USA, Germany, UK and other European countries. Your best guide in finding a reliable partner is probably Yellow Pages. Look for local companies, you will have more control of the end result and you will save big time on shipping. If you have found a company through the internet, check their website for proper contact information and always compare the address with the Who is admin mailing address for the particular domain name. Ideally, they should match or at least be within the same country.
With so many websites and electronics companies springing up every month, it is very easy to fall prey to fraud or low quality service.