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I know this question might get closed because of being opinion depended but I couldn't find any answer from google or any other search, so I decided to ask it here.

For clarity of question I want to link this Nexys II board just as an example.

For PCB manufacturing, prices per board drops sharply at low volume intervals(when you double the quantity price per board) as the graphic below. So PCB manufacturing becomes feasible after a couple hundred of production. For example a 10cm x 10cm, 4 layer PCB costs ~8$ per board(with other settings default) at pcbwing.

But Quoting for PCB assembly seems way expensive in those production levels and I couldn't find an online quote website for high volumes to see when cost is feasible per board.

So my question is, approximately at what quantities I get similar price per board graphics for PCB assembly costs(for boards like Nexys II) ?

enter image description here

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I went and got online quotes from two assembly houses for a simple board with 60 surface mount components (all on one side), no fine-pitch, bga, through-hole parts or connectors, and lead-free processing. Medium delivery time, neither rush or extended.

I then requested quotes for 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 boards. Only the second house would quote over 100 boards online. Then I plopped the #'s into Excel.

Here are the prices (in $) per PCB for various quantities for the first assembly house:

enter image description here

and here are the numbers for the second house:

enter image description here

The actual figures range from $318 for one board down to $11 / board for 100 boards for the first house, and $448 for one board down to $16 / board for 500 boards for the second house. Guess which one is based in China.

What I find interesting, is although the prices are quite different, the shape of the two curves is almost identical. Prices rise from their lowest point until they double at around 20 boards, and in both cases there is a very sharp knee right at 5 boards. I had thought the knee would be much further right, i.e. having to pay a steep premium for even quantities of 10 or 15 boards, but I guess that isn't the case.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the PCB house that you 'tested' are the ones that optimize for small runs. The ones that optimize for large runs won't do a < 100 run, and probably won't have an online quoting system at all. So mo guess is that for the industry as a whole the knee in the curve is frather to the right than can be observed from these two samples. \$\endgroup\$ – Wouter van Ooijen Oct 11 '14 at 8:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WoutervanOoijen Since his graph went from 1 to 100 boards, I chose the same range. But you are correct, the maximum number of PCB's either of these assembly houses can handle is 5000 at a time. And I can't get an on-line quote to compare the price @ 5000 pieces compared to the price @ 100 pieces. But obviously if you already have a 96% drop from $448/board down to $16/board, you're not going to have that kind of drop going from 100 pieces to 5000 pieces. So I think the price going from quantity 100's to the right are going to continue to slope fairly gradually. \$\endgroup\$ – tcrosley Oct 11 '14 at 9:22

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