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Are there software solutions out there that help provide a cost estimate for PCB assembly? I have a BOM and want to generate a cost estimate to help me negotiate with my suppliers better.

I also want to understand the costs of my PCB assembly earlier in the design phase so I can meet my target costs.

I have been using home grown spreadsheets to estimate these costs but it is tedious and time consuming. Are there any tools out there to help automate this? Application is high/medium volumes for machinery and aerospace.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Daniel Grillo, laptop2d, Armandas, Ricardo, W5VO Sep 16 '16 at 18:24

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ My tool for estimating the cost is called "e-mail" or "phone". You contact manufacturer, provide them the design files and ask for the cost. \$\endgroup\$ – Eugene Sh. Sep 16 '16 at 15:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ How many are you building, and what technology? If I'm building <10, they're not huge boards, and there's no BGA involved, it's probably quicker and easier to get soldering than deal with assembly houses. \$\endgroup\$ – Brian Drummond Sep 16 '16 at 15:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ A super rough guide the assembly cost will be x2-x3 the component cost. If you don't like what the board houses are charging, then go to the lowest bidder. Usually the price is related to the quality and you get what you pay for. It also depends on the quantity and if you have custom solderwork. Keep in mind that everytime you switch board and assembly houses, you will incur a time penalty because you will have to re-explain how your stuff needs to be built. \$\endgroup\$ – laptop2d Sep 16 '16 at 16:34
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In my experience the price is very, very variable, but it depends on the quantity and technology and where the work will be done in fairly predicable ways. It might be several US dollars per part for a small high-quality run of a few boards done in a first world semi-clean room environment to a tiny fraction of a penny per part for boards made to a consumer standard in a higher volume environment.

You need to find production houses that deal in your kind of requirements and will value your business, including volume. The 'A' list of production houses are probably not an option unless you're building in huge volumes and have a history and balance sheet to match, so you'll be dealing with a different set of suppliers. If they're used to dealing with (say) medical instrument companies they'll have a different set of systems in-house and different expectations for you, the customer, than a place oriented towards industrial or aerospace or consumer assembly. You have to shop around enough to make sure you're not overpaying, but also build relationships with a couple good suppliers so when things go pear-shaped you will get support. Hint: The lowest price supplier is rarely the best deal- more usually it's close to the middle of the pack.

In some cases it may be better to permit the assembly house to source certain parts, and that adds another level of complexity.

It sounds like you have boards already and can get quotes for assembly with minimal effort by simply e-mailing off the documentation. One trick for getting rough quotes if you don't have (or don't want to disclose) that information is to pick a similar board (in terms of complexity and technology) and get quotes on that, using that step to filter out the companies you don't want to try to establish a relationship with.

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This will depend on a large number of factors, which can interact in interesting ways.

  • equipment used
  • size of the PCB
  • number of different component values (in relation to the number of feeders)
  • size of the run
  • any special processing (hand-placed components, visual checks, ...)
  • single sided or double sided
  • solder and finishing requirements

In a place where I once worked the manufacturing department couldn't give accurate estimates, they simply made a run and calculated the cost afterwards. I tried to get some hard data, but there were too many factors. In the end it didn't matter for the product we made, because the manual work of folding the shielding around a small connector print dominated the costs.

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