PCB (Printed Circuit Board) Cost and Price Deciders and Its Future Trend

Price is always a core factor that both the manufacturer and consumer will pay much attention to. If there’s a PCB (printed circuit board) part in your product, how can you decide its price? What are the factors influencing the price?

In this post, we’re going to share you with the price-deciding factors of PCB. In addition, we’ll provide you with some future trends of the PCB market.

1. Price-deciding factors

Basically, 4 factors can decide how much a PCB cost, they’re:

  • Material fee,
  • Drilling fee,
  • Fee of surface treatment technology and manufacturing difficulty, and
  • Human and factory cost.

1.1 Material fee

There are mainly 3 materials that make up PCB, i.e. the substrate, the conductor and the adhesive.

For FPC, PI (polyimide) and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) film are the most commonly seen materials of substrate. And for rigid PCB it’s FR-4 and CEM-3. FR stands for flame retardant and CEM stands for composite epoxy materials.

PI can maintain its performance under high temperature while PET can only work in room temperature. Therefore, though in price the PI is much higher than PET, about 70 percent FPC substrate are made from PI.

CEM-3 is a new generation material that also has the ability of flame retardant. The performance of CEM-3 in many aspects is nearly the same as FR-4, and the price of it is lower than that of FR-4, thus there’s a tendency that CEM-3 is grabbing the market share.

The conductor in PCB is usually copper, and thickness is the core factor of copper foil within PCB. A thicker copper foil is more expensive.

Many types of adhesives are used in FPC manufacture, such as acrylic, epoxy adhesive, reinforce adhesive, pressure sensitive adhesive and so on. Among which the pressure sensitive adhesive is the cheapest one, it can simply be used by human hands and is used to paste stiffener.

Speaking of stiffener, some conjunction area of FPC need an extra reinforcement to ensure the mechanical strength.

Stiffeners include FR-4 board, sheet steel, aluminum foil, PI and PET film, etc.

The price of FR-4 board and PI film are relatively high, and compared to the film the metal stiffeners have higher hardness, thus they’re more widely chosen.

1.2 Drilling fee

For the needs of electrical connection and circuit structure, there’re always holes on PCB. Number and the diameter of holes will determine the fee of drilling.

1.3 Fee of surface treatment technology and manufacturing difficulty

We do surface treatment on PCB to achieve better soldering quality and to prevent oxidation.

HASL (hot air solder leveling) and ENIG (electroless nickel immersion gold) are the two dominant technologies in the past and the present.

ENIG is much more expensive than HASL, but it is eco-friendly and has better soldering performance. Thus, on the mass production phase, ENIG is often used and you still can choose HASL to do a prototype.

As for manufacturing difficulty, it refers to the line width and distance of the circuit and the layers of PCB. Generally, a more complex circuit and multi-layer will result in a higher cost.

Two layers FPC with ENIG treatment
Source: http://www.foundpcb.com

1.4 Human and factory cost

This part of cost will not appear in the price sheet directly.

It would be in the form like a shared fee or be added into other fees. The mass production stage will have a higher cost in this aspect.

2. Future trends

In the production side, future of FPC are more about eco-friendly, high density and automatic production.

The key points of the most advanced PCB technology are the micro holes, micron scale circuit and multi-layer. The smaller a single unit is, the higher density the whole product can reach. In future these parameters of PCB will climb to another level.

In the consumption side, wearable devices and car electronics grants the PCB a huge growth space. And predictably, the needs of PCB in consumer electronics like PC and mobile phone will remain stable in future.

We can provide more information about PCB if you’re interested. Just contact us!

Note: We do not own the images used in this post. Feel free to contact us if they belong to you, and we’ll take them down as quickly as we possibly can.

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