Chinese PCB Fabs

Are scribing or paper-dolly routing offered as Fab services and how much, by whom, If limited and approximately what does it cost?

Bob

What is paper-dolly routing?

Routing around the board perimeter... I'd be as interested in charges for routing setup If they were applicable.. I have YaAcb (Yet another Arduino clone board) it takes a 328 W/o the pins and an RFM12B radio on the other side and is .19 X 25 mm. I can make 24 boards and buy 5 radios for what it would cost to buy any of the 2 or 3 products that use that radio assembled with a 328, assuming a board price is typically 18 to 22 dollars. Panelization is trivial and the artwork for a task like that is trivial. It fits in that small outline because I don't use through holes for the controller IC pads, It was a common experimenter's trick in the 70's to bend the skinny part of the pin out and solder it to a flat pad or cut them right to the bottom of the chip... If room was really tight. The only reason not to would be If it wasn't possible to panelize them... Thus the question.

Bob

The Itead/Seeed service won't panelize. You can have the board routed to any shape you want -- and use internal routes -- but the moment you start perforating or cutting the board in any way that will enable you to break the boards apart for separate projects they'll reject it. You can have separate projects on one board, but they require you to do all the separating cuts yourself. Seems confusing, but basically they just don't want you cheating their already quite inexpensive service.

I know OSH Park does panelization but I've never used their service myself.

Yeah that's a real shame... Dumb too, not building a job that could be cut up... not that they had to, and incur the tooling time added to the job... just make what was paid for. I had hoped for better.

Bob

Hmm, I thought Seeed and Itead had changed their policy on panelizing? Correct me if I'm wrong. http://www.instructables.com/id/Panelizing-PCBs-for-Seeed-Using-Eagle-Free-Light/#step1

iTead: You can panelize but the design should meet our rules as followed: (1) There should be no more than 5 sub-boards to fit the size (2) The sub-boards should only be separated by silkscreen. Using holes or long slots to separate the sub-boards are not permitted. *Note: You will have to cut the boards by yourself if you fabricate a panelized design.

@ Chagrin, Bajdi and thank you for your valuable input.. I was really interested in how people responded as much as what they said... more to get an idea of what's going on. I've seen a lot of contradictory information and after having read a few of the various PCB houses websites pages... I thought I'd ask... A long time ago I was taught that you get what you ask for.. Politely.

Bob

The last time I used Itead I had four boards, each 100mm x 25mm, panelised into one 100mm x 100mm board. They came back with grooves cut in them so I could separate them simply by snapping. I'm still awaiting my first order from Elecrow but I get the impression that they do so too.

Bajdi: Hmm, I thought Seeed and Itead had changed their policy on panelizing? Correct me if I'm wrong. http://www.instructables.com/id/Panelizing-PCBs-for-Seeed-Using-Eagle-Free-Light/#step1

In the instructable he doesn't have any cuts/grooves/holes between his boards -- just a silkscreen line. That's always been allowed as far as I know.

dannable: The last time I used Itead I had four boards, each 100mm x 25mm, panelised into one 100mm x 100mm board. They came back with grooves cut in them so I could separate them simply by snapping. I'm still awaiting my first order from Elecrow but I get the impression that they do so too.

I've read of one other person doing that too. Both Seeed and Itead clearly state it's not allowed but apparently it's still possible to slip an order in. YMMV I guess.

I don’t request that they do it. Perhaps it’s something in the software that I use to panelise the boards?

As far as I'm aware, with Seeed and Elecrow you will only get any separating silkscreen that you place on the board.

The only other way I could think of is if something slipped through on the Milling layer?

My first order with Elecrow was for straight 100mmx100mm design. I'm waiting on one being delivered (hopefully tomorrow) that is a panelised one, so I'll let you know the outcome.

The problem with panellizing is that in general most small order PCB runs will be panellized as part of a larger run by the manufacturer. Your attempts at panellizing would get in the way of that. That's the reason they don't like you panellizing - it has nothing to do with them trying to stop you for extra profit.

Most PCB manufacturers are more than happy for you to create a panellized layout, including v-grooving etc, if you work in full panels and are ordering many thousands of boards.

From a post I just did on another thread

I've used both iTead and LCBCart.

The proto services like iTead sound cheap and they are under the right circumstances, but I need 10 different boards done so I costed a panel with 10 designs as opposed to 10 boards done with iTead.

Result, MUCH cheaper to panalize the boards and use a professional fab house. $880 for 10 designs (10 boards each) from iTead, $673 for 10 panels each with 10 designs from PCBCart.

As mentioned for the combination of boards I have it was much cheaper to go with a panellised board from a "real" fab house.


Rob

Again I thank one and all of you for your help. The information about V grooved or scribed boards is most interesting as I believe it can be done on smaller cut panels so perhaps the good news is that they are starting to be a little more accommodating providing you provide a cutting guide on the top legend layer. I think that's really up to me to find the rest. I was looking more for 'Tunes from the Trenches than websites or quotes. @Rob, I agree with you, better to use a real fab house than a job shop.. Wasn't always that way but economic realities have either changed the tune or the landscape... Remember "Him as got the Penny calls the tune"...?

Bob

Nothing ambiguous about these instructions (both Seeed and Itead use the same image, incidentally). I would guess that the cases where a groove made it through was simply because the boards weren't checked before they were sent off. Or, from the perspective of the employees working on the project, it's probably easier to just let it slide rather than do all the paperwork to reject it.

I use Accutrace for proto pcbs. Not as cheap as itead/etc. They have a special deal of 10 bds for $10/each, but put restrictions on the tooling, because extra tooling apparently costs them more to "set up" the panels. IOW, I imagine that, for protos, they have some automated scheme for setup with little human intervention. Also, I imagine that they stuff the protos around the edges of panels that are not efficiently used by other production board runs.

From the previous figures by Chagrin, for protos, they will do the closely-spaced holes, but not the slots. OTOH, if you want to buy production boards, usually meaning 50 to 100 or more boards, then they will do whatever machining you like, for some fee.

OTOH, I would always get protos first, and if those are 100%, then get production later. I know a guy with 5,000 useless pcbs in his closet because he didn't do it this way.