Author Topic: Custom PCB Work Questions  (Read 2006 times)

flanagan0718

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Custom PCB Work Questions
« on: November 02, 2020, 08:26:19 PM »
Hey Guys,
I had someone reach out to me and asked if I could do a layout for them. I already have the PCB designed. I really just need to move a few things around and put their name on it. I was wondering if anyone here has had experience with this and what you would charge for something like this? They would be buying a quantity of 20-30 boards. I already have pricing from the FAB house (for 30 boards). My cost, shipped to me is about $1.25 per board. So, should I break it down to come out to cost per board, and how much would one charge for something like this? Thanks in advance for ANY advice you can give me.
-Mike-

mauman

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Re: Custom PCB Work Questions
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2020, 11:13:43 PM »
Disclaimer: I do custom pedals rather than PCB development, but I think the principles below are sound and transferable to your situation.  I've also used this process to price equipment repair, music lessons and performance.

When I think about pricing, I prefer to base it on my costs rather than the market, so here are the things that go into my equation for a job:
1. Time - set a value on your time per hour, and multiply by the hours needed to develop the project from scratch.  Got it partly done in advance?  Great, that will offset the other occasions when you will spend endless hours figuring out how to do something and would be embarrassed to charge the customer for all your time.  On the average, it works out about right.  Technically this is labor.
2. Resources - add up the cost of your tools and equipment and assign a fraction of the total to each job.  Technically this is depreciation, and allows you to replace/upgrade when necessary.  If you say 1/2 of 1% of the total value, you'll have 100% cost recovery after 200 jobs.
3. Materials - your cost for vendor products and services for this job.  Includes board manufacture, customer-related shipping, PayPal fees, third party fees if you work thru eBay/Reverb/Etsy, etc. 
4. Profit - whatever markup you want here, from zero to ridiculous.  I don't do this for a living, so I usually add zero.  100% is common for commercial products.

Once you have that total, you can either quote the entire job, or break it down by board.  But I would suggest a flat amount for the first order whether it's one board or 20, to cover all your overhead and development.  Then you can charge a modest incremental amount for reorders of the same board (without changes) to encourage repeat business.  Changes and revisions would invoke additional time and possibly other costs.   Hope this helps you think it thru!  Mike   

PS: I love the graphics on your pedals!  Killer.
« Last Edit: November 02, 2020, 11:17:48 PM by mauman »

aion

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Re: Custom PCB Work Questions
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2020, 07:35:06 AM »
Normally I just charge the same as the "cover price" for the PCB (i.e. $12 each in my case), figuring that the "discount" is free minor customizations. They're not just paying for materials + time for customizations, they're paying for all the time I spent researching & developing the original PCB layout, as well as all the time I've spent developing Eagle libraries, thousands of hours honing my craft, etc. It's much more than just "what's a half hour of my time worth" or whatever.

If they do 100 or more then I'll do 20% off, which I'd also do for a large non-customized order.

Aentons

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Re: Custom PCB Work Questions
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2020, 07:48:02 AM »
It's much more than just "what's a half hour of my time worth" or whatever.

It could be argued that all the stuff that you mentioned are the things you use to determine your level of expertise and therefore billing rate and then you present that to the customer as something simple they can understand such as billable hours.

aion

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Re: Custom PCB Work Questions
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2020, 08:45:31 AM »
It's much more than just "what's a half hour of my time worth" or whatever.

It could be argued that all the stuff that you mentioned are the things you use to determine your level of expertise and therefore billing rate and then you present that to the customer as something simple they can understand such as billable hours.

Generally true, but in this case it sounds like he's wondering what to charge for a PCB that has already largely been designed and just needs to be tweaked. So it's more than just expertise, it's that the work product itself has already been ~90% designed, and so to only charge for the ~10% would be far less than it's actually worth.

mauman

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Re: Custom PCB Work Questions
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2020, 10:06:02 AM »
It's much more than just "what's a half hour of my time worth" or whatever.

It could be argued that all the stuff that you mentioned are the things you use to determine your level of expertise and therefore billing rate and then you present that to the customer as something simple they can understand such as billable hours.

Generally true, but in this case it sounds like he's wondering what to charge for a PCB that has already largely been designed and just needs to be tweaked. So it's more than just expertise, it's that the work product itself has already been ~90% designed, and so to only charge for the ~10% would be far less than it's actually worth.

Agreed, identifying "worth" was my purpose in laying out some of the hidden investments and costs involved in a "little project."  You could also define "worth" from the customer's perspective, which we aren't doing here. Where the two definitions intersect is the value proposition. 

LaceSensor

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Re: Custom PCB Work Questions
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2020, 02:28:55 PM »
I guess it depends if you are selling them the gerbers so they can make their own board, or a run of fabbed boards, and what level of responsibility you are taking for the veracity of the design

I cant give explicit advice but I would say dont sell yourself short, skills are valuable and its a sellers market

midwayfair

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Re: Custom PCB Work Questions
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2020, 04:27:02 PM »
It doesn't matter that you've already put the time into making the PCB for yourself, they need to come to you to get it.

If they are getting the gerbers: Charge $50 an hour for the time you originally spent making the board, or a flat rate per placed component.

If they are just getting the boards: Price the boards according to similar projects but give them a bulk discount of like 10%.

Let them negotiate if they want from there.

matmosphere

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Re: Custom PCB Work Questions
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2020, 05:16:22 PM »
I read this differently than everyone else. It sounds like he designed the board specifically for the job, but is only now thinking of how much to charge.

I agree with others though, it depends if his customer only wants boards or if he wants the files to use later.

If he only wants a certain amount of boards I would say to charge him similar to what shops like bean and pedalpcb charge. If you spent a lot of extra time getting everything exactly to his specifications, then I might charge a little extra per board.

flanagan0718

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Re: Custom PCB Work Questions
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2020, 07:41:12 PM »
It doesn't matter that you've already put the time into making the PCB for yourself, they need to come to you to get it.

If they are getting the gerbers: Charge $50 an hour for the time you originally spent making the board, or a flat rate per placed component.

If they are just getting the boards: Price the boards according to similar projects but give them a bulk discount of like 10%.

Let them negotiate if they want from there.
Solid advice!

You’ve all given me very good idea of what I should charge. As most of you that have commented know, I’ve been at this “racket” for a while now. I’m not as experienced as most of those that have commented and I’m glad that you have all done so.

So you have all asked some really good questions. They will not be getting the Gerber files. Those I’ll keep. I’m assuming they have an idea of what they want to pay and have been very transparent in the “exchange” so far. These would only be in a short run of pedals and the boards would not be sold individually.

After being in the fx industry for a while and purchasing WAY more than my fair share of boards and even having one layout of my sold by a 3rd party (LoveMySwitches Whammoth) I have an idea of what they sell for at a retail level.

My main question was, is / should there be a discount for the “bulk” buy? From most of the comments and posts it looks like yes but don’t under sell myself. So for a board that would sell for $7 each, maybe a 15-20% discount for the 30 customized boards sounds decent. Maybe that is too much considering what people sell short runs / custom builds for now a days. Thoughts?


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culturejam

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Re: Custom PCB Work Questions
« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2020, 09:05:47 AM »
My main question was, is / should there be a discount for the “bulk” buy? From most of the comments and posts it looks like yes but don’t under sell myself. So for a board that would sell for $7 each, maybe a 15-20% discount for the 30 customized boards sounds decent. Maybe that is too much considering what people sell short runs / custom builds for now a days. Thoughts?

This is just me, but I would base it on how well capitalized the layout is. Have you already recovered your design labor cost through sales of this layout? If so, consider pricing a little lower to entice a higher volume, as you're running at or near 100% margin. Tack on a couple bucks for the minor design changes (1 hour of labor, say), and there you go.

If this is a layout you did for yourself and you haven't recouped any of your labor cost, maybe do a one-off charge that reflects the design time and then a low per-piece charge for the PCBs.

Or, you can do a larger one-time charge and give them the gerbers. You lose possible residual/future sales (which are not guaranteed), but you get "money in the bank" right now which is guaranteed. This is my preferred way of pricing, otherwise known as "work for hire". I'd rather get X now and be done, than 0.5X now and possibly 2X over the course of a few years. But that's just me.

Last thing to consider: are you feeding your family with this, or is it fun money? If it's the latter, I'd counsel not being a greedy shit. If it's the former, squeeze out every nickel you can.  ;D
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