Seeking recent PCB manufacture recommendations

Hi friends,

I am hoping to get some current info and recommendations on PCB manufacturers. Where have YOU had decent quality/price boards made in the last several months or so?

I had my first simple PCB design manufactured by Accutrace/PCB4U a few years ago... cost: 30$-10 boards, quality:excellent

A little over a year ago, my second... cost 30$-10 boards, quality-excellent

Just sent an RFQ today, an even simpler PCB design...cost 100$-10 boards :o don't know what gives on the over 3X increase.

So I am kindly asking for suggestions/comments on where you all are currently getting your boards made and opinions regarding the price, quality and service.

thanks for your suggestions, bc

Google “loss leader”.

OSHPark has been excellent for me. There's only two minor niggles: the turnaround on their 4-layer boards isn't as fast as the 2-layer and the screen printing isn't high enough resolution for 0.04" text.

Hmmm, I think i have smaller than .04 silk text, depending how you define it: .04 tall or .04 line width? I looked at OshPark, I seem to recall they were in line price-wise with Accutrace. I went ahead and put in an order with Itead, guess we'll see how they are, it was more in line with the prices I expected from my limited past experience.

Dirtypcbs and pcbway have both given my great results. The former is cheaper, and they won't look at your design and claim a few more bucks like pcbway sometimes will. On the other hand, pcbway, you can get in touch with people at the board house (they speak some what broken english), and they've got a ton of extra cost options if you need them, and they can do assembly if you're willing to pay for it.

Get the DHL shipping, from either of them. Ime, with DHL ship, their turn time is competitive with osh

I don't know what your requirements are, but since you where willing to go for iTead, I can also recommend Seeedstudio. Shipping took less than two weeks, lately, with the cheapest option (+up to 5 days production).

Since they allow tiling of the same design for free, I tested v-cuts lately, and they came out great. After breaking them and rubbing them together, the cut looks almost like the other ones. Gave me 60 boards for ~15$. Amazing.

I've recently received boards from both pcbway and SeeedStudio that I'm pretty happy with. The pcbway boards have been assembled and work fine (except for my own mistakes), and the Seeed boards look good but haven't been built yet... pcbway was quicker; Seeed gave me color choice for free. Both were/are having a sale on boards up to 10x10cm, and both ended up having postage that was more expensive than the boards (still: about $30 total for 10 boards!)

|500x254 |244x500 |448x500

@westfw those boards look nice...

Much thanks for all the suggestions. Looks like several votes for Seeedstudio and PCBway, and one for Oshpark and DirtyPCB. It's nice to know that yall have had decent results from the low cost China offers, I'm always seriously concerned with not only quality, but also certainly what they are going to do with my files. :o

ElCaron: Since they allow tiling of the same design for free, I tested v-cuts lately, and they came out great. After breaking them and rubbing them together, the cut looks almost like the other ones. Gave me 60 boards for ~15$. Amazing.

Yes I'd be tickled with that deal, especially if you are happy with the quality. I might ask if you'd be willing to share a few more details about the tiling and how you include the v-cut info. I could fit up to 4 duplicates of one of my designs on one 10cmx10cm board, but I'm not certain about the scoring/tiling. Are you just including holes or slot geometry in your 'mill' gerber file?

billcat:
Yes I’d be tickled with that deal, especially if you are happy with the quality. I might ask if you’d be willing to share a few more details about the tiling and how you include the v-cut info. I could fit up to 4 duplicates of one of my designs on one 10cmx10cm board, but I’m not certain about the scoring/tiling. Are you just including holes or slot geometry in your ‘mill’ gerber file?

Sure. I think the attached file is what I send them and got back perfectly (don’t have a Gerber viewer at hand here, if it doesn’t make sense, send me a PM). It also contains milled slots to separate mains from low voltage that came out pretty well (but not perfect in the corners)
It is a little PCB to hold a HLK-PMxx module, with a varistor, a thermal and a current fuse on the mains side, and some filtering (C and L) on the low voltage side (Though I am bridging L right now). As always, it is not perfect - the holes for the connector are a little too small and the holes for the fuses are not far enough apart, so I have to place the components a little higher and bend the legs together.

Gerber_20161227-1002.zip (14.3 KB)

thank you! _VERY_MUCH ElCaron!

That very well explains it for a novice like me. I just need to add the 'margin' gerber that's labeled where I want the v-cut.

And it looks like they milled slots as well, nice!

any chance you'd be willing to post a pic of the finished boards?

:)

cheers, bc

What you call "tiling" is called "panelizing" in the US. Also, if you populate a board that is "V" scored in a panel with SMT components you risk popping a component off when you break the boards apart.

Paul

That very well explains it for a novice like me.

It was my first try, too. Got lucky and it worked immediately. Basically like all Seed orders. The worst I got was when I didn't understand that the solder stop layer is subtractive and got boards without solder stop the first time.

billcat: any chance you'd be willing to post a pic of the finished boards?

I will only have access to one on the weekend, but sure. If you want to make sure, send me a PM on Saturday (preferably with a link to this thread), else I'll try to remember it.

Paul_KD7HB: What you call "tiling" is called "panelizing" in the US.

It is probably also called panelizing everywhere else. I am pretty tired right now and not a native speaker. But now that you say it, I agree with you.

Paul_KD7HB: Also, if you populate a board that is "V" scored in a panel with SMT components you risk popping a component off when you break the boards apart.

I don't quite get that. You can always break it apart before populating it and then you are at the same point where you where when ordered them as single pieces, can't you? Also, the seeed boards break apart cleanly and easily, the v-cut is VERY thin and deep. If I had populated them before (e.g. because I wanted to use a stencil) I would break them over the edge of a table and wouldn't worry too much. After they are broken apart, one would have to take a very close look at the edges to see that they where broken apart.

ElCaron: . I don't quite get that. You can always break it apart before populating it and then you are at the same point where you where when ordered them as single pieces, can't you? Also, the seeed boards break apart cleanly and easily, the v-cut is VERY thin and deep. If I had populated them before (e.g. because I wanted to use a stencil) I would break them over the edge of a table and wouldn't worry too much. After they are broken apart, one would have to take a very close look at the edges to see that they where broken apart.

Components on both sides, or V-score that is not very deep. We have a powered machine with two knife edge wheels that separate the boards. Have to be sure the components are far enough away from the V-score to allow the blades to work. Some customers don't and are a pain!

Paul

Hm, ok, when there are components on both sides close to the cut, I can see that.

Ok thanks again for all the help!

No SMD here and lots of room for error. I think I'm going to send another board design to Seeed and hope for the best. I mimicked your files regarding the Vcut ElCaron, thanks again for that info.

cheers, bc

I'm still happy with Iteadstudio. 10-lot of 5x5cm, 5x10cm, and 10x10cm for $$9.90, $14.90 and $19.90 plus shipping. You can cram a lot of parts on a board, and a really big amount if have components on both sides, altho routing then becomes a work of art. You can see lots of examples on my website www.crossroadsfencing.com/Bobuino17/

PS: I've also been very happy with OSHPark; they're quick, and they're very cheap for very small boards, and three is frequently plenty... And ITead, too.

It's ... fascinating that these low-priced services seem to be doing well enough to expand their offerings (larger boards, more colors, more thicknesses ... all things that used to cost extra, are now available at at least SOME vendors for free.)

I have been very happy with elecrow. They are the cheapest option for 4 layer 2oz boards. They also have a green only special sometimes 10x10cm for 10 dollars.

OSH Park has been great for me, a simple hobbyist. Very easy to place order. No hassles. Free p&p to anywhere in the world, and no, they don't send by "slow boat". USPS first class air.

Not relevant to everyone but...

1) If YOU want to share your design, you tick a box, and anyone who wants a copy of your board can order direct from OSH. Well... if they want 3 copies of your board. (3 boards is minimum order). For instance my little board to give you screw terminal connectors and a little bit of "proto" space around an Arduino Pro Mini, or similar...

https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/F740R0oa

2) If you use KiCad (Great free multi-platform PCB design software), OSH park only needs one of the files that is native to that package.

More on my OSH experiences:http://www.arunet.co.uk/tkboyd/ele1bps.htm

More on KiCad:http://kicadhowto.org/

=== One other aspect of using OSH Park... the job is done in the USA. I have little patience with nationalists who won't share their wealth with other humans, regardless of passport, would rather pay a "support the indolent" tax... but I do like saving delivery time.

OSH Park

Oh. Also their on-line order order/preview/visualization system is pretty brilliant! You can try it out without actually placing an order, and it's probably worthwhile to do so!