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I have an idea of an electronic device, some kind of a gadget. It will have a bluetooth chip, some memory in it, some led indicators and some controlling chips, not sure yet how it should be constructed. What I need now is to estimate an approximate cost of the gadget hardware itself including the board, chips and the plastic case. What is a good way to calculate the cost?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Development time is going to be 80-90% of the cost. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nick T
    Jan 9 '11 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you wanting to estimate what it will costs to re-manufacture or the cost of development, redesign, and bug fixing? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kellenjb
    Jan 9 '11 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would like to calculate the price for remanufacturing the device using an existing developed construction. I need it to have a picture of how much this gadget would cost if manufactured in large amounts so that to know if its worth that. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 9 '11 at 19:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ You already have a completed design, then? Seems the only thing left to do is add everything up and get quotes, then. \$\endgroup\$
    – tyblu
    Jan 9 '11 at 20:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ How much is "large amounts"? This could be interpreted as 50, 500, 5,000, or 50,000+, depending on who you talk to. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 12 '11 at 0:55
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A ballpark figure for the manufacturing cost can be obtained by multiplying the parts cost by 3 to 5.

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Here is what I use for estimates, they are not accurate by any means be at least gives me an idea:

  • $0.50 per part to be soldered
  • $300-$400 for a PCB order under a quantity of 100. Divide by the number of boards you want to get the cost per board
  • If you already know what parts you are using, add up their cost
  • Add on an extra buffer to account for all of the stuff you haven't thought of
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    \$\begingroup\$ Disagree with point #2, I got a quantity of 10x 2-layer PCBs for $40 USD total and 10x 4-layer for $150 USD total. \$\endgroup\$
    – Thomas O
    Jan 9 '11 at 20:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Thomas O Can you tell me where you got those prices? Did they include soldermask and silkscreen"? Was there any student discount with that? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kellenjb
    Jan 9 '11 at 21:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kellenjb, SeeedStudio and a few other places. 2-layer FR4, green soldermask (+$10 for red/blue/yellow soldermask), silkscreen on both sides, works with 6/6 mil rules. (8/8 for inner layers on 4-layer.) \$\endgroup\$
    – Thomas O
    Jan 10 '11 at 10:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ your not tossing a 2.4Ghz RF transceiver (bluetooth) on a 2 layer FR-4 board and getting an operational device, at least not unless you really know what your doing and using specific types of antennas \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Jan 11 '11 at 23:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mark I use a bluetooth module that has the antenna on board. In a situation like that a 2 layer is just fine. But yes, a bluetooth ic with your own antenna is a bit more difficult to do on 2 layers. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kellenjb
    Jan 11 '11 at 23:53
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Parts cost is all about volumes. If you're making a handful, go with the prices on Farnell/Digikey/Mouser/etc. and buy from there.

If you're making in even modest quantities, you need to get on the phone with suppliers and request quotes.

As others have said, accurately predicting manufacturing costs is also hard.

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Estimating project cost is an art. It can be guesstimated by kludging together development time, parts and manufacturing cost. Time really is money, so the first thing to do is break down how long each part of the development cycle is going to take, then multiply by 3X. Only you know how much your time is worth -- I go by 5CAD/hr-15CAD/hr for personal projects, 25CAD/hr-50CAD/hr for contract work (experienced EE's use 100-200/hr). As Leon mentioned, multiply parts cost by ~3X for manufacturing, including enclosure.

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