PCB design services range from $95-$145 per hour based on software and complexity. A 70-hour design at $120/hour would cost around $8,400, considering current PCB technology.
Determining the cost of a PCB design project is theoretically simple – estimate the number of hours and multiply that by an hourly rate. Estimating the number of hours is tricky, especially on complex designs. 911EDA has been providing PCB design services since 2000 and has quoted thousands of designs. We have developed a calculator that uses an algorithm based on the number of components, pins, and other information to determine a baseline estimate of hours. We then look for design aspects that might increase that estimate, such as differential pairs, RF, or high-speed designs, and increase the estimate to account for those items.
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, which would help create an accurate estimate. More information means a more precise quote. If we do not have enough information, it may require a re-quote when we get into the design. Sometimes the information 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
- Schematic (Source file ideally or PDF)
- BOM (Bill of Materials)
- Mechanical (DXF, IDF, PDF, etc)
Helpful Information for an Accurate Quote
- Routing Rules or Constraints Document
- Placement Floorplan
- 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:
- General schematic/technology questions?
- Manufacturing cost or design for manufacturability (DFM) concerns?
- CAD software tool requirement or preference? (At 911EDA, we support most PCB design software tools)
- Do you have an internal footprint library available?
- 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 follows the same task order for every board.
- Footprint creation
- Mechanical file import
- Critical placement
- Critical routing
- 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, the 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 that impact the standard time it takes to complete a design. Advanced tasks include:
- Component pin density. This is based on the number of component pins and 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. This is considered 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. HDI boards have a higher component and routing density. They also utilize blind and buried vias and often micro vias. HDI boards will require more placement time and more routing time.
- Routing Topologies. Topologies are used 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 Time – 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 Time 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, including footprint creation, layout, design reviews, and DRC checks, to produce a design that would meet all the design requirements and create a board ready for manufacturing.
PCB Design Services hourly rates at 911EDA range from $90-$145 per hour. To generate the price for this project, we would multiply the 54 hours times an hourly rate. The factors affecting the hourly rate include which software tool will be used, how quickly the design needs to be done, and the 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 costs and offer a lower rate.
Technologies are constantly changing as PCBs become increasingly complex. When we complete a PCB design, we always compare the number of hours we estimated with the actual number of hours we worked to ensure our calculator is working correctly and make adjustments to ensure our estimates are accurate. This means we do have the update the algorithm our estimation calculator uses. If you have questions about our PCB design services or our hourly rates or would like a quote, please get in touch with us at (800) 320-2480 or at email@example.com or Contact Us.