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April 17, 2006

Standard pricing or estimating book for PCB design services

Is there a standard pricing or estimating book for PCB design services and other aspects of circuit cards even turnkey - parts buying - fabrication - assembly - testing/inspection? I'm looking for something like this to know whether or not the pricing or estimates I receive for these services are realistic. Sort of like a estimating book for the PCB service industry like the car service industry uses. Point me in a direction for I can do this research at least or to someone who has already done this research.

Paul D. Wilson

Experts Comments

Really depends. The problem with correlating this with buying a car is that cars come with most of the "options" standard (e.g., tires). If you could pick and choose everything on a car, then estimating book would be almost impossible. Consider just the material selection. You could go with the laminate and prepeg material that the board shop has in stock, or you could require your own choices. And prices are almost never public, so the price a large volume customer could be very different from your price. As an example, when I talk about new epoxy material that is phenolic cured with filler, one large customer told me the price was no different from normal dicy cured epoxy, while a smaller customer told me they were quoted a 35% price increase. Same thing occurs over time. If a large volume customer is shopping for a new PCB supplier, they maybe quoted at cost, with the expectation that once the relationship is set, the PCB supplier will find ways to recoup their cost (outsourcing some production to lower cost, less controlled shops, adding fees, cutting corners, etc.).

Some general rules of thumb? If the board is not too complex (2 6 layers), NRE's tend to range between $1000 - $5000. Simple boards, 2 layer, no more than 4 x 4, are going for about $0.75 to $1.00 per board once you reach significant volumes (>100,000). ENIG tends to add about a 10-20% price premium over OSP/ImSn, unless they don't have it in house (in which case, they'll add an overhead charge to send it out). If you need more info, you can contact me and I can put you in contact with some relatively neutral guys in the PCB business.

Dr. Craig D. Hillman
CEO & Managing Partner
DfR Solutions
Dr. Hillman's specialties include best practices in Design for Reliability, strategies for transitioning to Pb-free, supplier qualification, passive component technology and printed board failure mechanisms.
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