Steps for building PCB prototypes using low-cost PCBs
So, are you ready to design the first PCB prototype? We believe this must be a surprise moment for you We thank you for your desire for innovation and for trying things out of the box However, if you want to further design PCB prototypes in low-cost PCB, then this article is for you!
Here, we will give you an in-depth understanding of PCB prototypes. Whether you are a novice or a professional engineer, I believe these steps will benefit you immensely.
Let's get started.
Why is PCB cost an important standard
The cost of printed circuit board is an important standard. The higher the cost, the more expensive the final product. In fact, the price of circuit boards ranges from 50 cents to 300 dollars. Depending on the complexity, number of layers and installation, the price may be higher.
If you want to reduce the cost of PCB prototype as much as possible, you must control its size. It can be predicted that the price of PCB will increase with the increase of its surface area.
Similarly, compared with the traditional form, the design cost of irregular shaped PCB is higher. Because a large amount of waste will be generated in the manufacturing process.
Number of layers
In fact, the higher the number of layers in PCB; The greater the complexity. The more complex the PCB design, the higher the cost of the entire process.
It is strongly recommended to limit the number of layers as much as possible. A better approach here is to stack additional PCB copper layers on top of each other in the form of highways. They will provide a new aircraft for electronic routing and serve this purpose well.
If you want to reduce the cost of PCB prototype as much as possible, you must pay attention to its data type. The standard PCB is made of copper. Other accessible PCB materials used include glass epoxy, also known as FR-4. Here, FR stands for flame retardant, and the front digit stands for its flammability.
FR-4 is the default choice for most PCB manufacturers. However, care must be taken when designing dielectric constants and data thicknesses that are critical to high-speed plate parameters.
Through the pad electroplating process, the exposed copper surface of PCB is covered by another metal material. This is to improve the solderability of pads during assembly. Two standard technologies include HASL and ENIG. If you want a low-cost PCB prototype, you must insist on using HASL, because ENIG is very expensive.
The thickness of PCB also plays a crucial role in determining PCB manufacturing cost. The 1.6mm depth seems to be the industry standard, but it may increase with the number of copper layers.
The thick plate determines your production cost. In modern science and technology, thick plates are expensive, but their functions are not very comprehensive. Instead, it is a thin board that can be used for mobile phones and electronic products. When designing a PCB, you must determine the thickness of the required PCB and then develop it. Avoid some problems.
If you plan to integrate Bluetooth, Wi Fi and related technologies on a PCB, you must define the impedance accordingly.
PCB impedance depends on many factors, including trace width, prepreg data, and solder mask. Proper impedance control must be performed to optimize wireless antenna performance.
However, since most manufacturers will not provide you with a controlled impedance, this will be an additional cost.
It is important to determine the correct hole size on the PCB. These holes help to establish a vertical electrical connection between the copper layers. Although the small backing plate can help you save space (and thus cost), it may make the manufacturer's process difficult.
In addition, smaller holes also mean smaller tolerances, which may cause more waste, which will cost you more.
Here, the best way is to keep balance and select holes within 0.2 – 0.3 mm.
Apply a layer of polymer similar to paint on the copper wire of PCB. It prevents the formation of welding bridges and eliminates any possibility of short circuits.
There is no doubt that solder mask is indispensable. If you need to design low-cost PCB, we can only select the type and printing method of solder mask.
There are many types of PCB solder resist, such as:
1. Epoxy liquid
2. Liquid photosensitive imaging
3. Dry film photosensitive imaging
4. Upper and lower masks
It can be selected according to the specific design of PCB functions. If you need special help, you can contact us, and we will be happy to provide you with the best service for you.
Comply with industry standard dimensions
If cost reduction is one of the main motivations behind PCB prototyping, it is recommended to avoid reinventing the wheel. Try to adhere to the industry standard size.
Because most manufacturers follow the industry scale of these standards, if you need anything off the shelf, their equipment will be customized according to these requirements, and manufacturers will have to pay extra effort. In turn, this will adversely affect the cost of custom PCBs.
Core component selection
In order to achieve efficient prototyping, you must have a clear understanding of all the electronic components to be deployed (such as sensors, microchips, displays, sensors, and connectors). The target price of the final product will also play an important role.
The best approach here is to create a related block diagram to ensure as much detail as possible and natural continuity.
You can use PCB design software for preliminary design and have the initial file of PCB layout. In this way, some PCBA calculators can be used to calculate the cost in time.
Once you have a basic understanding of what you need and other expectations, you can create a design sketch. You can simplify this task by designing applications. This figure will also give you a deeper understanding of the connecting pipes of different components.
Once you have designed the preliminary sketch map, please contact us through the website, and we can provide you with all the information you want to know about the board.
List of low-cost PCB materials
Once PCB manufacturing is completed, layout failure is likely to occur, which will have a negative impact on the function of the final product. Several PCB layouts have been completed. Now is a good time to generate the bill of materials. It can be created automatically by schematic design software. The proposal includes part numbers, quantities, and other specifications.
Then you can analyze the bill and see which are the most expensive for future analysis and improvement.
Low cost PCB experiment and repetition
Retrieve PCB from manufacturer and evaluate correctly. Your PCB may not meet your requirements. Don't be surprised. Things are often not as expected.
You must thoroughly weigh the time required to select and debug on the PCB.
This part may take a lot of your time, but I think it's worth it because you can find problems and solve them. This is related to the function of making PCB.
How to design low-cost PCB prototype. The key here is to adhere to industry standards and follow best practices to minimize PCB costs.
In addition, your PCB manufacturer also plays an important role Choose to wholeheartedly accept prototype orders at reasonable prices They must also offer discounts and equip themselves with appropriate tools to simplify manufacturing