How To Reduce PCB Cost with Altium Designer
Reducing design costs takes more than just reducing your upfront costs for design software. Component costs, fabrication costs, delivery costs, and non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs all contribute to PCB pricing. If you use the right PCB design software, you have plenty of control over your manufacturing costs and scheduling.
Working with the best PCB design software package gives you the tools you need to maximize your design productivity and validate your designs. When it’s time to manufacture your boards, working with the best design software will help you generate all the information your manufacturer needs to source your components and prevent fabrication delays or re-runs.
Altium Designer maximizes your control over PCB costs by enabling you to easily implement DFM rules, which reduces or eliminates the need for pre-manufacturing redesigns. You can estimate, track, and control component costs with a real-time Active BOM. Altium Designer gives you everything you need to control PCB component costs.
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The most advanced and comprehensive PCB design package that gives you control over PCB pricing and sourcing.
PCB prices are driven by two factors: manufacturability and component costs. On the manufacturing side, costs can be lowered by streamlining the overall fabrication and assembly process, including optimizing your PCB stackup and PCB layout. On the component side, some smart sourcing and design choices can help you take advantage of discounts on procurement and circuit board assembly.
On the design side there is also a lot that can be done to save money. If you can get a better understanding of the entire PCB design and manufacturing process, you can find ways to prevent redesigns, shorten design reviews, eliminate the need for engineering services, and produce a higher quality product. With the right CAD tools and supply chain visibility features, you can design to save cost on manufacturing, sourcing, and assembly. Altium Designer is the only PCB design package that includes the sourcing features you need to design the best PCB layout and estimate your costs before manufacturing.
Your fabricator will have something to say about the price you’ll have to pay for PCB manufacturing and PCB assembly, but creating an accurate PCB layout will help you avoid design errors. Giving your manufacturer an accurate PCB layout and deliverables is the best way to expedite redesigns, or to prevent redesigns altogether.
Working with an excellent PCB design software package gives you the ability to define design for manufacturing (DFM) rules from a manufacturing and assembly service as design rules. The PCB layout and routing tools in Altium Designer automatically interface with your design rules as you build your board. Once you finish laying out your PCB design, you’ll need to check your circuit board layout against your design rules. The 3D viewer tools in Altium Designer also allow you to quickly check pad, component, trace, and via clearances throughout your board.
3D PCB layout view in Altium Designer. You can thoroughly inspect all aspects of your printed circuit board layout before sending your design out for fabrication and PCB assembly.
Working with PCB design software that includes design rule checking features is a great way to ensure you won’t lose productivity. Rules checking features also help you prevent costly redesigns. Your PCB designer software should show you any design errors in an intuitive dialog, and you need capabilities to check against rules individually or in batches. Once you’ve confirmed your design is error-free, you need to create accurate deliverables for your manufacturer.
PCB Design Package Completeness Drives PCB Pricing
Your PCB design and PCB layout package also drive PCB pricing. A successful PCB manufacturing and assembly run relies on having accurate and complete design deliverables. These documents include Gerber files to communicate graphical location of layers, nets, through-holes, and components to make completed PCB assembly. Assembly instructions, centroids for X-Y component locations, the PCB stackup, silk screen, drill files, and other fabrication drawings can all be prepared with the right PCB design application.
Altium keeps version control in its unified environment and provides advanced file formats, such as ODB++ or IPC-2581. Both ODB++ and IPC-2581. If your design package contains errors, does not match manufacturer capabilities or is incomplete, your boards cannot be made without significant back and forth and most likely redesign which increases your overall costs. These can be avoided by engaging with your PCB fabricator and PCB assembler to ensure you employ accurate DFM specifications, incorporate panelization and provide your manufacturer with a complete set of design files.
- Tailoring your DRC checks to match the capabilities of your manufacturer will prevent an additional PCB price increase for redesign and circuit testing.
- Once your design files are complete, you can increase your throughput by panelizing your boards.
- Your Gerber files must be included in order for your manufacturer to accurately quote and produce your design. Make sure your design package includes all pertinent files, including images and notes.
Altium’s Draftsman collects information for costing in one place
Another important consideration is the cost associated with your components. Obviously, the actual cost of components is important as a small increase can translate into a major expense for production. However, component sourcing is also important as the selection of components that are unavailable or near obsolescence can result in production delays or redesigns that can increase your overall costs.
Another key point to have control over is the components you select for your design. A lot of money gets wasted in manufacturing when the production line is delayed or stopped because of unavailable or excessively expensive parts. Your PCB design tool should provide part availability information and prices. This is essential to saving money when you send your design to a circuit board assembly service.
How to Reduce PCB Cost with an Accurate BOM
Once it comes time to send your circuit board off for manufacturing, your design software should give you tools to implement the right component and supplier information management strategy to ensure you can source the parts you need without breaking the bank. Given the tradeoff that can occur between availability and cost, up-to-date supplier information can help you find the right components while helping you prevent PCB pricing overruns.
Component selection involves much more than choosing parts that will perform circuit operation reliably. Every component has a lifecycle that includes original introduction, a ramp up and finally a decline. During this cycle, availability and prices will vary. It can be difficult to know the status of each component, unless your design software shows you this information during the design phase. You can prevent production stalls and find alternate components to avoid increased PCB pricing. Your PCB manufacturer will need an accurate BOM with updated component prices and availability.
- Delays in manufacturing due to unavailable or expensive parts can be easily avoided with CAD tools that can deliver the latest component information to you directly from the vendor.
- Altium Designer provides real-time sourcing information, including updated component pricing and availability from multiple distributors. You can avoid additional costs and manage component shortages.
- Altium Designer links you directly to component sourcing information. You can include alternative parts and supplier information in your bill of materials. Learn more about sourcing supplier information in Altium Designer.
Altium Designer provides real-time component prices and supplier data.
The most costly aspect of PCB manufacturing occurs when you need to do a redesign. This costs you in terms of time, engineering services, and another round of design review. It may sound simple, but performing thorough inspections of each aspect of your design is a small step to prevent errors that may result in major PCB pricing increases. Fortunately, Altium Designer equips you with the capability to view and inspect your design visually.
Another way to save money on the high cost of PCB prices is to use modern printed circuit design tools that are built to work quickly and efficiently. If you find you need to replace components, the design and simulation features in Altium Designer help you quickly qualify design changes and analyze your new circuits. You can quickly execute any redesigns before sending your board back for manufacturing and assembly. This helps you eliminate any extra costs of engineering services.
Get to Manufacturing and Assembly with Altium Designer
If your PCB design process is being hampered by lost productivity, cost overruns, and failed fabrication/assembly runs, you need to work with the best PCB design software platform. Only Altium Designer contains all the tools you need in a single package. You’ll be able to move from conception to fabrication with unparalleled accuracy when you work with Altium Designer.
- The integrated environment in Altium Designer includes the best design and PCB manufacturing tools for any application.
- Without a doubt, DFM practices are the best way to prevent PCB price overruns. Altium Designer makes it easy to implement DFM rules in your design environment.
- Altium Designer takes your PCB layout data and automatically generates standardized manufacturing outputs for your board. You’ll have everything you need to estimate PCB pricing and control costs.
See how to reduce PCB cost with the integrated toolset in Altium Designer.
PCB pricing is not completely out of your hands. With Altium Designer, the most comprehensive unified design design package in the PCB industry, you have the tools available to minimize your manufacturing and assembly costs. Don’t settle for budget design tools that cost you money in the long run, use the comprehensive suite of circuit board design tools in Altium Designer.
Altium Designer on Altium 365 delivers an unprecedented amount of integration to the electronics industry until now relegated to the world of software development, allowing designers to work from home and reach unprecedented levels of efficiency.
We have only scratched the surface of what is possible to do with Altium Designer on Altium 365. You can check the product page for a more in-depth feature description or one of the On-Demand Webinars.