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As a Maker, you really need a decent price, with good
quality and good service. Contrary to what many people think, you don’t need to
look outside of North America for this. You can keep your gaze West of the
Atlantic and East of the Pacific.  

Like everything else in the modern world, design
decisions can have a pretty big impact on your cost. So, let’s take a look at
seven design decisions that can make your manufacturing more affordable.  

Accept Longer Lead Times — Lead times are one of the
biggest factors in electronics manufacturing. Businesses can turn a kitted
assembly job overnight, but it costs a lot of money to do that. When you can, a
20 day turn-around that is much more affordable. Accepting longer lead times on
PCB fab will drop your cost as well.  

Avoid Leadless Packages Like QFNs and BGAs — Screaming
Circuits builds tons of QFN and BGA boards — even down to 0.3 mm pitch micro
BGAs. That’s great if you need those packages. However, since all of the leads
are underneath, we have to x-ray every part. That adds a bit of cost to the
process. If you can, stick with TSSOPs and other parts with visible leads.  

Use Reels and Continuous Strips — To save costs, use full
or partial reels or continuous strips of at least 12″ long. 

Stick with Surface Mount — These days, thru-hole
components tend to be hand soldered. That costs more than machine assembly, so
use surface mount wherever possible. Surface mount components tend to be less
expensive than thru-hole too. If you do need a few thru-hole parts, this is an
opportunity to put in a little sweat equity by soldering the thru-hole yourself
and save a bit of money.  

Keep Your Surface Mount Parts on One Side — Putting
surface mount parts on both sides of the pc board is a great way to better
utilize space. However, if cost is more of a concern, and you only have a few
parts to put on the back side, it may be more cost effective to move them to
the top side. If you’ve got a lot of parts, the additional cost for assembling
both sides may be less than the cost for the extra PC board size, but with a
small number of parts that’s probably not the case. Quote it both ways and see
which is less expensive.  

Panelize Small Boards — Sticking with a larger size makes
the job easier, and, again, creates extra savings. If your PC board is smaller
than 16 square inches, panelize it.  

Save on Start-Up Costs — Just the act of starting out can
pretty much break the bank. Software like PCB123 offers full-featured PCB CAD
systems you can get free of cost.  

By following these guidelines, you can get a decent price
and quality service. 

Source: Screaming Circuits