Before we need to know the cost and price of a flexible PCB, we first need to know what a flexible PCB is. What factors affect the price of a flexible PCB? The purchasing personnel of electronics factories has been confused by the changeable price of flexible circuit boards. Even those who have years of experience purchasing flexible circuit boards may not fully understand it.
What is a flexible PCB?
Flexible PCB, also called flexible electronics; we call it FPC for short, is made of polyester film or polyester amide. Light and thin, high assembly density, high flexibility, bendable and foldable, and advantages that other circuit boards do not have. Compared with traditional interconnection technology, FPC can withstand millions of bends, is easy to install, and has good heat dissipation performance.
What are the factors that determine the cost and price of flexible PCB?
Since flexible PCB has so many advantages, its price will naturally be higher than ordinary rigid PCB. What factors make up the price of flexible PCB? Let’s discuss it together below.
1. Flexible PCB Materials
Taking ordinary double-sided flexible PCB as an example, the sheet materials generally include PET, PI, etc., with thickness ranging from 0.0125mm to 0.10mm, and copper thickness ranging from ⅓Oz to 3Oz. All of these have caused substantial price differences in the sheet material, and there are also price differences between different brands of materials. Therefore, the difference in materials has caused the diversity of flex PCB prices.
In addition to materials such as PI and PET used in flexible PCBs, price differences are caused by different reinforcing materials. Flexible PCB reinforcement materials can include steel sheet, FR4, aluminum sheet, PIF CCL copper foil, etc.
2. The Manufacturing Process
Different production processes will cause different costs. The available options of the PCB surface finish process are gold plating, immersion gold, immersion tin, OSP, etc. Different surface finish processes will also cause different manufacturing costs for flexible PCBs; in addition, the precision of the shape of the production, the use of silk-screened circuits and dry film circuits, etc., will cause different costs and ultimately result in price diversity.
3. Processing Difficulty Factor
Even if the material is the same and the process is the same, the design and manufacturing difficulty of the flexible circuit board itself will cause different costs. For example, there are 1000 holes on two kinds of circuit boards, and the hole diameter of one board is more significant than 0.6mm, and the hole diameter of the other board is less than 0.6mm. The drilling cost between the two is different. Another situation is, The other design and production processes of the two circuit boards are the same, but the line width and line spacing are different, one is more significant than 0.15mm, and the other is less than 0.15mm, which will also cause different production costs. Because of the high scrap rate of flexible PCBs that are difficult to produce, the cost will inevitably increase, which will result in price diversification.
4. Panel utilization
The raw material of flexible PCB is copper-clad laminate, and the copper-clad laminate has a fixed size when it leaves the factory. The flexible PCB manufacturer will calculate the copper-clad laminate utilization rate of this batch of flexible PCBs based on the material, the number of layers, process, quantity, and other parameters of the flexible circuit board to be produced by the customer, thereby calculating the material cost.
5. Copper Foil Thickness
The standard copper foil thickness is 18um (1/2OZ), 35um (1OZ), 70um (2OZ), 105um (3OZ), 140um (4OZ), etc. The thicker the copper foil, the higher the price.
6. The Fixtures and Test Cost
1. The cost of fixtures. Flexible PCB prototyping and small-batch manufacturing generally do not charge for milling costs, while large-scale production requires the use of fixtures, which will incur fixture costs;
2. Test cost. The test fee includes the production and testing methods of test fixtures. Flexible PCB prototypes generally use flying probe testing, and test fixtures are used for mass production. The method of test fixture test is more expensive than the flying probe test.
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Flexible PCB manufacturers will give different quotations based on the length and width of different flexible PCBs. Larger flexible PCB sizes require unique materials and equipment.
We know that flexible PCB is divided into single-sided flexible PCB, double-sided flexible PCB, and multilayer flexible PCB. Single-sided flexible PCB is the least difficult to produce, and the price is the cheapest, followed by double-sided flexible PCB. Multilayer flexible PCB is also the most expensive due to its incredible manufacturing difficulty. For example, the price of producing a 6-layer flexible PCB will be higher than that of a 4-layer flexible PCB.
9. Acceptance Criteria
The level of customer requirements will directly affect the yield rate of PCB manufacturers. For example, a flexible PCB is produced according to the IPC-A-6013 standard. Class 1 requires a 98% pass rate, but according to class 3 requirements, it may only have a 90% pass rate. This results in different costs for PCB manufacturers and finally leads to variability in product prices.
10. Flexible PCB Manufacturers
Different costs will be formed even for the same product because different manufacturers have different process equipment and technical levels.
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11. payment method
At present, flexible circuit board manufacturers generally adjust the price of flexible circuit boards according to different payment methods, ranging from 5% to 10%, which also causes price differences.
12. Different regions cause price diversity
In terms of geographic location in China, from south to north, prices are increasing. There are specific differences in prices in different regions. Therefore, differences in regions also result in price diversification.
In addition, the cost of choosing a flexible PCB manufacturer in China and an overseas flexible PCB manufacturer will also be different. China has a complete infrastructure construction and a complete industrial chain. It produces many flexible circuit boards every year and has accumulated rich experience in production, and labor costs are relatively low. Therefore, it is more high-quality and cheaper than choosing flexible PCB manufacturers in other parts of the world.
13. Different plating methods cause price diversity
The cost of partial electroplating is about 15% higher than that of full electroplating.
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14. The surface finish of the gold finger part is different, resulting in a different price.
There is a cost difference of about 5% between the gold-plating process of the gold finger and the tin-plating process.
The volume of flexible PCBs in the order will significantly affect the overall cost. Generally, flexible PCB manufacturers offer discounts or lower prices for more oversized or bulk orders.
16. Lead Time
The more urgent the production task means that you will pay higher expedited costs.
How to reduce the cost of flexible PCB?
From the above price composition of flexible PCB, we have learned that the factors that affect its price include the layers, quantity, size, line width, and line spacing, copper thickness, board thickness, reinforcing materials, production technology (drilling, gold fingers, surface finish )Wait. Therefore, to reduce the cost of flexible PCB, you can suggest:
- It is not recommended to use multilayer flexible PCB when it is not necessary;
- The more quantity in the order, the cheaper it is;
- The minimum aperture should not be too small;
- It is recommended to choose Immersion Gold for the surface finish of flexible PCB;
- There are two options for the surface finish of gold fingers, one is hard gold, and the other is sinking gold. Hard gold is much more expensive than sinking gold;
- Plan the production of orders as much as possible. The more urgent, the higher the price;
- Apply manufacturability design check, optimize design, understand the properties and specifications of specific materials, drilling technology, adjust line width and line spacing;
- Reduce the number of blind holes and buried holes because the production of blind holes and buried holes is more complex, increasing the processing time and reducing yield. Reducing the number of holes on the flexible PCB can reduce the total cost;
- Improve the panel utilization rate. The overall manufacturing cost can be reduced through the effective use of the panel.
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