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My under graduation is electronics based. I have done programming and made my own projects using dotted PCB. From the link posted It seems that the intial setup cost might be in millions. Is there ways to cut these cost off? I am looking for a cost effective setup. Manufacturing PCB is in parallel with Institutes which provides course on how to use them. It will also be available in online retail store.

I have seen small scale manufacturers having their name in circuit boards that they design. SparkFun has their own pcb boards. Do they have the same setup? Simple Labs, Basha electronics, sunrom are some online retailers who manufacture pcb on their own, from what I know, they have more cost effective methods of producing them. Could you please suggest on this.
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I am not giving up on this PCB stuff though. If its not cost effective, I would think about outsourcing it. But I am hoping that there would be a cost effective way to do it.
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I have seen small scale manufacturers having their name in circuit boards that they design. SparkFun has their own pcb boards. Do they have the same setup?

You are aware that a company or person need not own a PCB fab to have their name put on a board? Sparkfun makes a fair number of boards, I'm not aware that they own a fab.
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I have my name put on cards that iteadstudio builds for me.
Well, my initials and the year anyway.  But you can get carried away and put anything you want on the card.

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Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

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Did you manufacture that pcb?
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No, I had iteadstudio manufacture it. I assembled the parts onto it.
I could perhaps etch the copper and drill the holes, but I don't have the means for applying the solder mask (gives the green color), for making the connections thru the board (thru hole plating), or adding the crisp marking. And doing it all repeatable manner.
Companies like iteadstudio have all the automated tools for doing that. I just had to send them the Gerber files that define the design, which I created in eagle.
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Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

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How do you etch the copper and drill holes, is there a cheap professional tool to do these. How much does hole plating and solder masking machines cost? How much did itdea charge you  to make that board?
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www.iteadstudio.com, do some reading.
Completed boards are priced by size.
I design them using Eagle from cadsoftusa.com, other tools are also available.
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Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

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For the record, Sparkfun is about 5 minutes from my house and I've been there many times and walked through the building.  They do not have any pcb manufacturing capabilities.  Like many of us, they too outsource the job.  They only do assembly in house.  They have some awesome pick and place machines as well as ovens on the property.
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That was a nice site. Got lots of data for my project. Thanks a lot. I still would like to know how you etch and drill. what machines you use?
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Drilling is generally done with a CNC drill press, able to use various drill sizes.  Recently some manufacturers have moved to CNC laser drilling which allows for much smaller and tighter holes.

As for etching, I would presume you can built your own etch tanks and process.  There are machines for that but I don't have an idea of where to point you to.  But, when you start getting into that scale, you need to think about the facilities and proper ventilation of the chemicals, as well as proper disposal.  You can't just wash the stuff down the drain.  So now you're dealing with your municipality and what you can or can't do.

If you are serious about this, there is no cutting corners and you are looking at a rather large venture capital to start with.  As you've already discovered, it'll be in the millions.  Nothing says you CAN'T do this, assuming you can secure the funding.  However, you need to keep in mind your competition: China.

I can have ten 50mm x 50mm boards made for under $10 + s/h from China.  I can have three of the same board made through OSH park (who also outsources to China) for the same price.  Or I can have a single one made at a company that's 100% based in the US, for a little over $300 (price based on a September 2012 quote.)

China has the raw materials locally, they don't need to import anything (from afar).  This is why a lot of the electronics giants are in Asia (besides cheap labor.)  Companies based in the US (or anywhere else for that mater) have to import everything ... 99% of the time, from those Asian countries.  Someone, somewhere, has to pay for that.  So, it's either we outsource it all for cheap, or we pay a premium.  I choose to outsource, as does a lot of other US companies ... Apple being a big one.
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I still would like to know how you etch and drill.
I personally don't, iteadstudio does all that. The video's I linked to earlier discuss that, you can search for other information on the same.
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Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

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If you search the forums for the word 'vinyl' you will eventually find a method of creating one-off pcbs yourself.
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  As you've already discovered, it'll be in the millions.  Nothing says you CAN'T do this, assuming you can secure the funding.  However, you need to keep in mind your competition: China.

I can have ten 50mm x 50mm boards made for under $10 + s/h from China.  I can have three of the same board made through OSH park (who also outsources to China) for the same price.  Or I can have a single one made at a company that's 100% based in the US, for a little over $300 (price based on a September 2012 quote.)

There are places in the U.S. that can make PCBs for much less than that. Albeit, it takes a bit of searching around. I've done the homework, because I refuse to support the downfall of the American economy & workforce just to save a few bucks. — I need to start a thread with links to reasonably priced American PCB manufacturers that people can use.

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China has the raw materials locally, they don't need to import anything (from afar).  This is why a lot of the electronics giants are in Asia (besides cheap labor.)  Companies based in the US (or anywhere else for that matter) have to import everything ... 99% of the time, from those Asian countries.  Someone, somewhere, has to pay for that.  So, it's either we outsource it all for cheap, or we pay a premium.  I choose to outsource, as does a lot of other US companies ... Apple being a big one.

Actually, the U.S. (and other countries) exports many of the raw materials to China, and then imports the finished products back in. Where China prevails is in labor costs (and lower overall cost & standard of living). What I made in one day as a Union Journeyman can pay an entire assembly line to work for (at least) a whole week in China. And, since most workers are forced to live, sleep, & eat at the manufacturing compounds where they work, there is no need to pay the workers "extra" for those expenses that almost everyone in other countries would have. Well, that, and the Chinese government artificially devaluing their money to keep the exchange rates in their favor....

Yes, China has a huge advantage for now. But, that's why we need people working on new business models that may help balance things out.
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There are places in the U.S. that can make PCBs for much less than that.
I've not been able to find one. In most cases, there is a setup charge that makes small lots uneconomical.
Places I have tried were not able to accomodate combining small boards into a panel for unique users.
I suppose if you wanted to take on that task, as dorkbot/patchpcb has done, and with a US manufacturer, you might make a go of it.
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Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

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