Seeed PCBA Series 4: PCB Assembly Pricing Explained

Online quoting is a relatively new feature in the PCB industry, but now every manufacturer and assembler seems to have some mix of online and offline quoting methods. For PCB manufacture, they have proven very popular and helpful, but currently, PCB Assembly quoting is hit and miss and buggy at best. Seeed Fusion’s intelligent PCBA calculator is different and provides many optimized features to help you on your prototyping journey. Here we’ll show you how and give you a little insight into how pricing is determined.

Back in the early days when PCB design and manufacture were restricted to engineers, offline PCB quoting was the norm and is still utilized today for more complex requirements. Typically, you would choose one or a few manufacturers and send them an e-mail with the necessary files and requirements. Within a day or so you’d get your quotes. Modify the files, and you’d have to apply again. But since then the maker movement and the increase in hobbyists have motivated online quoting systems for the convenience of both the manufacturer and the customer. With a reliable platform, PCB companies can save on human labor and avoid the lengthy process of going back and forth via snail mail. In return, customers can experiment with pricing even before beginning design and make essential decisions that could save them valuable dollars.

Only recently have PCB assembly quoting systems been introduced – but they are proving much more difficult to implement. For PCBs, fabrication processes evolve slowly and are relatively stable. But for PCBA, there is the need to consider components procurement. Components sourcing is not a simple process and consists of many channels working together to calculate that important little figure at the bottom of the page. Two primary issues arise; availability and pricing. With the wide range of components and sources, how do you make sure this particular component is available? Will it suddenly go out of stock? And prices change all the time. Additional issues include whether or not you can get the components to the assembler’s facilities. Are there restrictions? What about the quality of the parts and assembly fees? Also, assemblers charge differently according to the type of component – how does the system take this into consideration? Seeed Fusion has answered all of these concerns.

Seeed Fusion’s online platform is connected directly to partner component distributors such as Digikey, Mouser, TME and Element14. What they all have in common is accurate and up to date parts stock, pricing and product information that embeds directly into the Seeed Fusion PCBA calculator. By utilizing this information, a complete PCBA quote can be determined.

To simplify the calculation further, Seeed Fusion has divided the PCBA costs into 5 categories that can be viewed directly on the order page:

Component Cost: The easiest to understand – this is the raw cost of the components that Seeed will procure on your behalf. These prices come directly from the supplier databases. You can influence this cost by shopping around for alternative components.

Assembly Costs: The cost of the actual assembly work. This is calculated on a per component basis and depends on the type of component. For example, surface mount components are notably easier to mount if using pick and place machines whereas through-hole components and BGAs soldered manually require more labor and so cost more.

Consumptive Materials Cost: This is the cost of other materials including the stencil, packaging, solder and other tidbits.

Operation Fee: Includes procurement and administrative costs.

Setup Cost: Different to the operation fee in that it includes the cost of setting up assembly equipment such as loading the pick and place machine with feeders and programming. Since OPL components have already been tested for compatibility and are supplied in batch quantity packaging (e.g. reels or tubes), the setup cost for an all OPL component BOM is less (only $25).

quote 2Example break-down of a PCBA quotation

The Seeed Fusion PCBA calculator is highly advanced and adds flexibility to your project. Seeed can also handle the entire components procurement procedures on your behalf, making PCBA simple and convenient. Why not give it a try now?

That pretty much ends the PCBA series and we’ve pretty much covered everything. We hope you liked the series and have learned something in the process. Stay tuned for more similar content

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