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10 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2020 Most colleges teach an economics curricu- lum. We're not exactly professors, but this month, we're going to whip out our calculators and look into the economics of PCB design. We first came up with the idea for a design economics issue during our research for the March 2020 issue, which focused on design for profitability (DFP). Everyone can agree that profit is a good thing; however, the main dis- agreement among PCB designers and design engineers seems to center around the best de- sign practices for more profitable designs. Along the way, we heard a surprising statis- tic: Some project managers believe that up to 80% of the cost of the PCB is determined in the design cycle, so I wanted to know a few things. How do designers and design engineers man- age and track costs? How do they figure out what to bid on a design job? In a recent survey, we asked designers if they utilized metrics when tracking the cost of their designs, and 83% said they didn't. Here are a few of the respondents' comments regarding design costs, edited lightly for clarity: • We currently track BOM cost, part size, and pin count. Total part area vs. available board area gives us a "difficulty" metric that we use to create an estimated cost based on pin count and BOM. • PCB cost is a small part of the overall product cost. We track this at the product level, not the PCB level. • We think of it more from a design for manufacturability perspective. We assume (maybe incorrectly?) that if it is readi- ly producible at high reliability and good yields, it will maximize our profit. • I am a circuit board layout specialist. Others take the lead on a project's cost-related concerns. • Cost reduction is always on our mind. The Shaughnessy Report by Andy Shaughnessy, I-CONNECT007 The Economics of Design

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