What do PCB design services cost?

PCB design services cost is $95-$145 per hour based on the software tool used, component pin density, routing density, and the time required for completion.

Determining the cost of a PCB design project is theoretically simple - just estimate the number of hours and multiply that by an hourly rate. Estimating the number of hours is the difficult part, especially on complex designs. 911EDA has been providing PCB design services since 2000 and have quoted thousands of designs. We have developed a calculator that uses an algorithm based on the number of components, the number of pins, and other information to determine a baseline estimate of hours. We then look for design aspects that might increase that estimate such as the use of differential pairs, RF, or high speed designs and increase the estimate to account for those items.

An Altium PCB schematic with a calculator for PCB design services

Documents and Files Needed

One of the questions we are asked often by new customers is "What do I need to provide for you to quote a design?". Some files are required for even the most basic boards, while others are not but certainly would be helpful in creating an accurate estimate. More information means a more accurate quote. If we do not have enough information, it may require a re-quote when we get into the design. Sometimes the information just is not available at the time of quoting. In these cases, we often provide a rough estimate and then invoice for hours actually worked.

Required Information for a Quote

  1. Schematic (Source file ideally or PDF)
  2. BOM (Bill of Materials)
  3. Mechanical (DXF, IDF, PDF, etc)

Helpful Information for an Accurate Quote

  1. Netlist
  2. Routing Rules or Constraints Document
  3. Placement Floorplan
  4. Component Datasheets (only if footprints need to be built)

Additional Questions We May Have

Some of the common questions we might have, especially for new customers:

  1. General schematic/technology questions?
  2. Manufacturing cost or design for manufacturability (DFM) concerns?
  3. CAD software tool requirement or preference? (At 911EDA we support most PCB design software tools)
  4. Do you have an internal footprint library available?
  5. Do you have a target completion date?

Estimating Time - Baseline

Once we have a general understanding of the specifics of the design, we can estimate the hours required for the project. The PCB design process generally follows the same order of tasks for every board.

  1. Footprint creation
  2. Mechanical file import
  3. Critical placement
  4. Placement
  5. Critical routing
  6. Routing
  7. Output file generation

To estimate the time it will take to complete these tasks, we have created a calculator based on a count of component pins, components, nets, desired number of layers, and the usable area of the board. A baseline estimate of hours for each basic task is created based on the documentation and files provided.

Estimating Time - Advanced Tasks

The baseline estimate is then adjusted to account for any advanced tasks, which are tasks which impact the standard time it takes to complete a design. Advanced tasks include:

  1. Component pin density. This is based on from the number of component pins and the usable area for placement and routing. Anything over 400 pins per square inch generally will increase the time needed for placement and routing time.
  2. Routing density. This is considered based on the number of internal routing layers, the number of nets, and the shape of the board. A board with a lot of routing density will require more routing time.
  3. HDI. HDI boards have a higher component and routing density. They also utilize blind and/or buried vias and often microvias. HDI boards will require more placement time and more routing time.
  4. Routing Topologies. Topologies are used to plan ahead for routing. A good example of routing topology is escape routing from high pitch BGAs. Pin counts are increasing and pitch is decreasing, requiring proper planning ahead of time.

Estimating Time - Example

Here's an example estimate we created from one of our recent design quotes:

Baseline Inputs

  • Board Size: 6 x 4”
  • Layers:
  • Pins: 1848
  • Comps: 5443
  • Nets: 353

Baseline Time Estimate

  • Library: 4 hours
  • Placement: 15 hours
  • Routing: 24 hours
  • Outputs: 6 hours

Add-Ons

  • DDR4 (1 bank)

Total Time Estimate: 54 hours

For this estimate, we had fairly straight forward design we estimated would take 54 hours. We took into consideration each task within the PCB design process, including footprint creation, design, design reviews and DRC checks in order to produce a design that would meet all of the design requirements and produce a board ready for manufacturing.

Hourly Rate

To generate the price for this project, we would multiply the 54 hours times an hourly rate. PCB Design Services hourly rates at 911EDA range from $90-$145 per hour. The factors affecting the hourly rate include which software tool is to be used, how quickly the design needs to be done, and the types of technologies used on the board. 911EDA is ITAR compliant, which means all work done at 911EDA is done within the United States and performed by U.S citizens. We do not send any work off-shore, which many companies do to save cost and offer a lower rate.

Conclusion

Technologies are constantly changing as PCBs become increasingly complex. This means we do have the update the algorithm our estimation calculator uses. When we complete a PCB design we always compare the number of hours we estimated with the actual number of hours we worked in order to ensure our calculator is working properly and make adjustments to ensure our estimates are accurate. If you have questions about our PCB design services, our hourly rates, or would like a quote please contact Ryan O'Connor at (800) 320-2480 or at [email protected] or Get a Quote.