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Topic: Manufacturing Path/Estimating Production Costs for Arduino-Based Project (Read 4859 times) previous topic - next topic


I'd like to ask the community's help in thinking through the production path for an Arduino-based project.
Thank you for your time, which I hope will be useful to the whole community.  I hope that replies to this post will be useful to others in thinking through their final production path for Arduino-Based projects, as our project is pretty simple and uses relatively common components.
If things go well, we are working toward building a low-cost consumer product at meaningful scale (at least 10k unit production lots for initial small run, hopefully 100k unit lots for full production runs if things go really well).  The ultimate retail cost will need to be in the range of $50-150 -- still a wide range at this point because we are still working on pricing vs. features, largely based on the answer to this question.  Beyond the electronics costs that we are asking about here, the product will also need to include about $5-10 in non-electronics parts + assembly.
Before we go further in our development, we want to have a better understanding of the path towards production, and at least very rough estimates of final electronics production costs, so that we can make whatever early choices are going to be appropriate for later commercialization.

Question 1: Estimated production cost
What is a reasonable range of cost to estimate for final production for the electronics components of our microcontroller-based project?  If you have prior examples that you are familiar with, that would be great.  Also, if you (or someone you can recommend) might be interested in paid consulting, that would be greatly appreciated.  If we get a list of available potential consultants on this forum, I suspect that others might be interested as well.

Question 2: Component selection
What current prototype-level components will we probably want to remove, and what components might we ultimately choose?  What form/manufacturing method will the final product likely take?  If I can ask your indulgence, please give us the full names of components you suggest so that we can Google them, as we may not know what you mean if you use abbreviated names/numbers for chips etc., even those that may be familiar to others on this forum.

The prototype is a handheld, powerful, motor-driven device that can produce complex programmed sequences of movement, stored in memory, with additional motor sequences downloadable.
Here are the components that we are currently using in the prototype:
Arduino Uno
Motor controller shield
3A motor at 100:1 gearing
7.2V battery pack
Wall charger
Memory (need about .25Gig, currently using SD memory/SD shield)

Thanks very much for your help  :)


This would be far easier if you were more specific.  How many units do you plan to run that's going to massively affect your per unit cost.  The major parts of an uno, a motor control IC, and 256mb of flash on a custom PCB can easily be under $20 a unit with decent volume really anything not using a very expensive IC can come in under this ammount.  Do you need USB accessibility, I assume so as you say downloadable or do you need a sd card that's removable?  Do you need a 7.2v battery if so why normally better to figure out watt hours and/or sizing/weight/chemistry requirements. 3A motor means little how many volts?  Wall charger do you really need this if your programming via USB why not charge via it?


Wow! 10K, 100K unit production. I'd say you guys should invest in some
"professional" level help. You certainly must have the money up front if you're
talking those sorts of production levels. A good professional could easily
cook up the figures for you for $1000 or so. Money well spent. There is an
immense amount of risk in a product with those production levels.


You're not ready yet to estimate per unit costs with any accuracy. You need to design a prototype. An Arduino Uno with shields is not a prototype. To get assembly quotes you'll need a list of components (BOM or bill or materials). You'll also need gerbers for the PCB and details about it (2 layer? 4 layer? Dimensions?).

That's the easy part. The harder part is the enclosure. Cost here is impossible to guess at without knowing anything about it.

Then there is final assembly and testing.  Then packaging.

Another big expense is shipping parts and assembled units around.

And tools. You'll probably need some hardware and software tools.

How about distribution chain? Are there distributors who sell to retailers? The price gets marked up each step of the way.

All that said, its all very doable. I did it, you can too.


For what it's worth, and given the implied lack of experience of commercial product development, I think it's crazy to consider jumping into a production run of thousands or tens of thousands if you don't already have substantial experience of developing something similar. You can get a dozen functional prototypes made for money which is trivial in terms of the numbers you're describing, and if you plan to scale this up to thousands I suggest you should subcontract the design and manufacture to specialists. By the time you're thinking about making tens or hundreds of thousands, you should already have sold thousands. That's my view, anyway.


Doesn't sound that hard to duplicate all that functionality on a card.

Arduino Uno
Motor controller shield
3A motor at 100:1 gearing >> offboard? connector only?
7.2V battery pack >> offboard?  connector only?
Wall charger
Memory (need about .25Gig, currently using SD memory/SD shield)

If you're interested, PM me with more details of your design and your goals, I can quote you a price to design it up with a PL from mouser.com, digikey.com, you can chase qtys with a turnkey production house.
Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years.  Screw Shield for Mega/Due/Uno,  Bobuino with ATMega1284P, & other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  my website.


As others have mentioned, you need more definition and probably experienced help. I agree with the previous comments that $20 is the right ballpark for the electronics but it could be $30 easily and much more with poor design. Not included in that price is the enclosure. A basic off the shelf plastic enclosure is only a dollar or two, but drilling / milling holes and labels add cost very quickly. A custom enclosure can be cheap, but there may be hundreds or thousands of dollars in tooling charges. The biggest risk with jumping into medium volume production is probably warranty / reliability.




For the UK, might you recommend any particular specialists for whom to sub-contract the design and manufacture?


I've found this company from the 'PCB Prototyping in the UK' thread,

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