Determining the cost of a printed circuit board design project is theoretically simple. First, estimate the number of hours, then multiply that by an hourly rate. Estimating the number of hours is tricky, especially on complex designs.
911EDA has been offering PCB design services since 2000. Over the years, we have quoted thousands of designs. We have developed a special calculator for these estimates.
This calculator employs an algorithm that considers various factors. It considers the number of components, pins, and other relevant information. This helps determine a baseline estimate of the hours required for a project.
Additionally, we examine specific design aspects that could affect this estimate. These include elements like differential pairs, RF, or high-speed designs. When designs require these factors, we revise the estimate upwards to accommodate the increased complexity.
Files Needed to Determine PCB Design Services Cost
Common Customer Query: New customers frequently ask us, “What’s needed for a design quote?”
- Varied Requirements: The specifics can vary widely. Some projects demand certain files, even for basic boards, while others may not. Having the right information upfront is crucial for an accurate estimate.
- Precision with Information: More comprehensive information provided at the quoting stage allows for a more precise quote. This helps avoid the need for re-quoting when the actual design phase begins.
- Challenges with Incomplete Data: In certain cases, the required information isn’t available during the quoting process. To address this, we may provide a rough estimate initially and later invoice based on hours worked.
Understanding the importance of accurate information in the product design quoting process helps streamline the design project. It ensures that both parties are on the same page regarding project expectations and costs.
Required Information for a Quote
- Schematic: Ideally, this should be in the form of the source file. However, a PDF version is also acceptable.
- BOM (Bill of Materials): Include all necessary components with their specifications. It should include specifications, quantities, and part numbers.
- Mechanical (DXF, IDF, PDF, etc.): Mechanical details are necessary for a complete quote. You can provide these in various formats, including DXF, IDF, and PDF. These files should detail the physical dimensions, mounting holes, and other mechanical aspects of the PCB.
- Custom or Special Instructions: Please include specific requirements or unique guidelines for the project. This could involve controlling impedance, arranging differential pairs, implementing specific design rules, or specifying component placement.
Helpful Information for an Accurate Quote
- Netlist: Providing a detailed netlist helps in verifying the electrical connections between components. This ensures the accuracy of the circuit design and aids in the efficient placement of components.
- Routing Rules or Constraints Document: Submit any specific routing rules or constraints that the design must adhere to. This includes guidelines for trace widths, spacing, and via types. These elements are essential for the board’s electrical performance and reliability.
- Placement Floorplan: If available, a preliminary placement floorplan can be extremely useful. It provides a visual representation of your preferred component layout, which can significantly expedite the design process.
- Component Datasheets: If you need custom footprints built, it is helpful to provide component datasheets.
- Signal Integrity: Signal integrity requirements can significantly influence PCB design costs. Meeting these requirements often entails meticulous attention to impedance matching, precise routing, and effective crosstalk mitigation, which may require additional design efforts.
Additional Questions We May Have
Some of the common questions we might have, especially for new customers looking for PCB design services cost:
- Do you have any general schematic or technology-related questions?
- Are there any concerns regarding manufacturing cost or design for manufacturability (DFM)?
- What are your requirements or preferences for CAD software tools? (Note: At 911EDA, we support most PCB design software tools.)
- Do you have an internal component library available for use?
- Have you set a target completion date for this project?
Estimating Time – Baseline
Once we have a general understanding of the specifics of the design, we can begin our estimation. We can then estimate the hours required for the project. The PCB design process follows the same task order for every board.
- Footprint creation
- Mechanical file import
- Critical placement
- Critical routing
- Output file generation
We created a calculator to estimate the completion time for these tasks. It bases its calculations on the number of component pins, components, nets, desired layers, and the board’s usable area. Using the documentation and files provided, we then generate a baseline estimate of hours for each basic task.
Estimating Time – Advanced Tasks
We then adjust the baseline estimate to include any advanced tasks. These tasks can affect the standard time needed to complete a design. Advanced tasks include:
- Component pin density: This depends on the number of component pins. It also considers the usable area for placement and routing. Anything over 400 pins per square inch will generally increase the time needed for placement and routing.
- Routing density: We consider this based on the number of internal routing layers, the number of nets, and the board’s shape. A board with a lot of routing density will require more routing time.
- HDI (High-Density Interconnect) Boards: HDI boards, known for their high component and routing density, require additional consideration. They typically use blind and buried vias, often including micro vias. Because of their complexity, HDI boards demand more time for component placement and routing.
- Routing Topologies: We use topologies to plan for routing. An excellent 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 PCB Design Services Cost – Example
Here’s an example estimate we created from one of our recent design quotes:
- Board Size: 6 x 4”
- Pins: 1848
- Comps: 5443
- Nets: 353
Baseline Time Estimate
- Library: 4 hours
- Placement: 15 hours
- Routing: 24 hours
- Outputs: 6 hours
- DDR4 (1 bank)
Total PCB Design Services Cost Estimate: 54 hours
For this estimate, we had a relatively straightforward design we estimated would take 54 hours. We considered each task within the PCB design process. This includes footprint creation, layout, design reviews, and DRC checks. We aimed to produce a design that meets all requirements and creates a board ready for manufacturing.
Hourly rates at 911EDA for PCB design services range from $90 to $145 per hour. To generate the PCB design services cost for this project, we would multiply the 54 hours multiplied by the hourly rate. Several factors affect the hourly rate. These include the choice of software, the required speed of design completion, and the technologies used on the board.
911EDA actively maintains compliance with ITAR regulations. U.S. citizens complete all work in the United States. We do not send any work off-shore, which many companies do to save costs and offer a lower rate.
In summary, regarding PCB design services, the cost can vary and depends on several key factors. 911EDA, a seasoned company in this field since 2000, understands this well. We use a specialized calculator to estimate costs, considering both simple and complex aspects of PCB design.
Our approach is thorough, covering everything from basic tasks to more complex requirements like high-density boards. Importantly, we follow strict ITAR standards, doing all work in the U.S. and keeping it in-house, ensuring quality.
Our pricing varies based on factors like design complexity, software used, and project urgency. At 911EDA, we offer transparent and competitive pricing for PCB design services. This makes us a trusted choice for both new and experienced customers in the field.
For questions about our PCB design services or our hourly rates or to get a quote, please contact us. You can contact us at (800) 320-2480, email email@example.com, or visit our contact page.