Are Prototype PCB Stencils Cost-Effective?

Surface Mount Technology (SMT) has transformed the world of electrical and electronic engineering. From flat-screen laptops to mobile phones – this technology is behind most modern-day innovations. SMT manufacturers design circuit boards where all components can be directly mounted on top. The need for using through-hole technology to fix each component on the board individually has been eliminated by SMT.

Components in SMT-based PCBs are also much smaller than regular components. Because of these small sizes of SMT components, placing them accurately on printed circuit boards is also much more difficult. Thankfully, the invention of SMT stencils has proven to be a life-saver to PCB assembly and manufacturing experts.

These tools allow PCB assembly professionals to maintain great levels of accuracy as they place tiny and sensitive components on the PCBs. The introduction of laser-cut stencils in the mid-1990s made it possible for PCB assembly and manufacturing professionals to work with SMT devices as slim as 0.65 millimeters. These stencils can be custom-designed as per the PCB layout to guarantee perfect mourning.

Are PCB Stencils Cost-Effective? 

Many PCB assembly companies work on tight budgets. For product designs that are straightforward enough, they still use through-hole technology or hand‐solder all components, hoping they can cut costs. But, undertaking the PCB stencil cost and using these tools to assemble electronic packages accurately is a much more logical option. Here’s why –

Let’s assume a PCB assembly company is spending $50/hour in labor fees for assembling electronic packages. Also, let’s assume that the PCB stencil costs $240. Here’s how PCB stencils will help the PCB assembly company reduce labor fees –

For assembling three boards (with fifty components or parts in each board), on average, the labor savings will be approximately $240 in a day.

For assembling five boards (with eighty components or parts in each board), on average, the labor savings will be approximately $640 in a day.

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