Tips & Tricks for Saving Money on Your PCBs
If you are not careful, the cost of your PCB is going to shoot through the roof. Even for the simplest of projects, carelessness on your part can lead to some costly mistakes which need a lot of time and money to rectify. Here are some of the things you can do to try to save money on your PCBs.
Go Over Your Design with a Fine-Toothed Comb
Most flaws within PCB design occur within the design stage. Make sure you use your design software PCB layout tools to check every inch of the schematic. It is always the little things that cause your design to falter. Depending on your software, it may even be able to run simulations to check that everything does indeed work properly.
There are many common design issues you need to be aware of. Common ones include not leaving a solder mask between pins, resulting in solder bridges between the components, and copper running too close to the edge of the board. This could result in layers accidentally shorting together. These are simple issues and it should be easy to spot them and eliminate them. If it means taking one more look at the schematic before you send it off, it is entirely worth it.
Find the Right Manufacturer
When you as a PCB designer have finished your design, it is time to hand it over to an expert manufacturer. The ideal manufacturer will be one who works with you to make your perfect design come to life. They should have a range of different materials which you can make use of and they might even be able to offer some rounds of testing.
What you need from them will vary depending on the nature of the PCB. If it is just the one, you may decide to forgo testing and just do it yourself. However, if the PCB is going to have a lot of uses, it might be better value for you overall if you choose to let them test it for you.
Did you know it might actually be better value if you order 100 units instead of just one? This is because the major cost of manufacturing actually comes from setting up the machinery in the first place and not from the price of the components; although that is a factor too. Once your manufacturer has set their machines up to produce your PCB, it is more cost-effective for them if they can print multiple pieces in one go. These savings are then passed on to you.
PCBs can be tricky little things to get right but the satisfaction of a job well-done is endless. If you want to save a little money with your next big design, some of the tips above may be able to help you out. Just remember, you can never double-check your design too many times! Start thinking about how you are going to approach your next PCB design now.