What is a PCB BOM?

What is a Printed Circuit Board (PCB)?

Before we delve into the details of a PCB BOM, let’s first understand what a PCB is. A Printed Circuit Board is a flat board made of insulating material, such as fiberglass or plastic, with conductive pathways etched or printed on its surface. These pathways, known as traces, connect various electronic components mounted on the board, allowing them to interact and function as a complete electronic circuit.

PCBs come in various types, depending on their complexity and application:

PCB Type Description
Single-sided PCB Components are mounted on one side of the board, with traces on the opposite side
Double-sided PCB Components and traces are present on both sides of the board
Multi-layer PCB Consists of multiple layers of traces and insulating material, allowing for more complex circuits
Flexible PCB Made of flexible materials, allowing the board to bend and conform to various shapes
Rigid-Flex PCB Combines rigid and flexible sections, offering both stability and flexibility

Importance of a PCB BOM

A well-prepared PCB BOM is essential for several reasons:

  1. Procurement: The BOM provides a clear list of all the components needed, making it easier for the procurement team to order the correct parts in the required quantities.

  2. Assembly: The manufacturing and assembly team relies on the BOM to ensure that the correct components are placed in the right locations on the PCB.

  3. Quality Control: A comprehensive BOM helps in maintaining quality control by ensuring that the correct components with the specified ratings and tolerances are used.

  4. Cost Management: An accurate BOM allows for better cost estimation and management, as it provides a clear picture of the components and their associated costs.

  5. Revision Control: As PCB designs evolve, the BOM serves as a record of the changes made, making it easier to track revisions and maintain version control.

Elements of a PCB BOM

A typical PCB BOM includes the following information for each component:

  1. Reference Designator: A unique identifier for each component on the PCB, such as R1 for a resistor or C2 for a capacitor.

  2. Quantity: The number of each component required for one PCB.

  3. Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): The unique identifier assigned by the component manufacturer.

  4. Description: A brief description of the component, including its value, rating, and package type.

  5. Footprint: The physical dimensions and layout of the component on the PCB.

  6. Supplier: The name of the supplier or distributor from which the component can be procured.

  7. Supplier Part Number (SPN): The unique identifier assigned by the supplier for the component.

Here’s an example of what a PCB BOM might look like:

Reference Designator Quantity MPN Description Footprint Supplier SPN
R1, R2 2 ABC123 10kΩ, 1/4W, 1% 0805 XYZ Electronics 123456
C1 1 DEF456 10µF, 16V, X7R 0603 XYZ Electronics 789012
U1 1 GHI789 Op-Amp, 8-SOIC SOIC-8 XYZ Electronics 345678

Creating a PCB BOM

Creating a PCB BOM involves the following steps:

  1. Schematic Capture: The first step is to create a schematic diagram of the electronic circuit using EDA (Electronic Design Automation) software. The schematic should include all the components and their interconnections.

  2. Component Selection: Select the appropriate components based on the circuit requirements, such as voltage ratings, power dissipation, and package types. Use the manufacturer’s datasheets and application notes to ensure compatibility and optimal performance.

  3. BOM Generation: Most EDA software tools have built-in features to generate a BOM from the schematic. The software extracts the component information, such as reference designators, quantities, and descriptions, and organizes it into a tabular format.

  4. Review and Refinement: Review the generated BOM for accuracy and completeness. Add any missing information, such as supplier details or special instructions. Refine the BOM by grouping similar components, sorting them by reference designator, or applying other organizational techniques.

  5. Validation: Cross-check the BOM with the schematic and the PCB layout to ensure that all components are accounted for and that their footprints match the physical dimensions on the board.

Managing a PCB BOM

Effective BOM management is crucial for maintaining accuracy and consistency throughout the PCB design and manufacturing process. Here are some best practices for managing a PCB BOM:

  1. Version Control: Assign a unique version number to each revision of the BOM and maintain a history of changes. This helps in tracking updates and ensuring that all stakeholders are working with the latest version.

  2. Collaboration: Use collaborative tools, such as shared spreadsheets or cloud-based BOM management software, to allow multiple team members to access and update the BOM simultaneously.

  3. Standardization: Establish standardized formats and naming conventions for the BOM to ensure consistency across different projects and teams.

  4. Component Libraries: Create and maintain a library of commonly used components with their associated information, such as MPNs, footprints, and supplier details. This saves time and reduces errors when creating BOMs for new designs.

  5. Automated Updates: Use automated tools to update the BOM when changes are made to the schematic or PCB layout. This ensures that the BOM always reflects the latest design iterations.


  1. What is the difference between a PCB BOM and a schematic?
    A schematic is a graphical representation of an electronic circuit, showing the components and their interconnections. A PCB BOM, on the other hand, is a tabular list of all the components used in the circuit, along with their quantities, descriptions, and other relevant information.

  2. Can a PCB BOM include non-electronic components?
    Yes, a PCB BOM can include non-electronic components, such as mechanical parts, connectors, or mounting hardware, that are necessary for the complete assembly of the PCB.

  3. What is the purpose of a reference designator in a PCB BOM?
    A reference designator is a unique identifier assigned to each component on the PCB. It helps in locating the component on the board and serves as a common reference point for communication between the design, manufacturing, and assembly teams.

  4. How do I handle component substitutions in a PCB BOM?
    If a component needs to be substituted, update the BOM with the new component’s details, such as MPN, description, and footprint. Make sure to communicate the change to all relevant stakeholders and maintain a record of the substitution in the BOM’s revision history.

  5. What file formats are commonly used for PCB BOMs?
    PCB BOMs are typically stored and shared in spreadsheet formats, such as Microsoft Excel (.xlsx) or CSV (Comma-Separated Values). Some BOM management software tools also support their own proprietary file formats.

In conclusion, a well-organized and accurately maintained PCB BOM is a vital document that streamlines the PCB design, procurement, and manufacturing processes. By understanding the elements of a BOM, creating it correctly, and following best practices for management, you can ensure that your PCB projects are completed efficiently and with minimal errors.