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Can anyone recommend a good place to go making PCB's? I'm particularly interested in places that also offer assembly, because this makes SMD parts an option.

  • GoldPhoenix is an option, but not the cheapest.
  • Anyone used OurPCB?
  • Any order time is OK- there is no particular rush, and the slowboat from China is just fine.
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    \$\begingroup\$ It really depends on the specs and the quantities of your PCB. Can you let us know the approximate size of the PCB, the quantity you want, how many layers, and if there are any other unusual requirements? \$\endgroup\$
    – davr
    Jun 3 '10 at 18:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Cheap PCB manufacture electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/1893/… Where can you get PCBs fabricated in Australia?electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/1629/… \$\endgroup\$
    – endolith
    Oct 22 '10 at 15:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ This should be a community wiki. \$\endgroup\$ May 3 '11 at 17:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ i've use OurPCB for PCB with no assembly. Price ~$50-$80 tooling and $1-$2 per board for an Arduino sized board. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17 '11 at 3:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you considered learning to do SMT assembly yourself? It's not that hard, you know. \$\endgroup\$ May 17 '13 at 10:39

13 Answers 13

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Assembly can get very expensive unless you are making 1K or more pieces. At 1K pieces the setup costs start to amortize to reasonable values. If you can get to 10K pieces then you could source the parts from China too.

I have had Gold Phoenix and E-Teknet quote on a job. They both had similar quotes. Since I only wanted to do 1K pieces the pricing did not work out and I did not do the project.

Neil Munzinger ( sales@e-teknet.com ) at E-Teknet was very responsive to my questions and made recommendations about cost saving opportunities. Unfortunately the numbers didn't work.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Just tried E-Teknet - they are not bad pricewise for boards. The assembly price is high tho. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dirk
    Jun 3 '10 at 19:40
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I've used Advanced Circuits (www.4pcb.com) before (located in Colorado). They have a pretty good special I've used a lot. 4 layer boards for $66 each (qty 4+). They also have a FreeDFM service that checks your gerbers for errors.

They also do assembly, but I've found that assembly costs are sometimes more expensive than the board itself. If you're doing this for a hobby, I've heard of folks using toaster ovens for SMD parts.

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    \$\begingroup\$ We use Advanced Circuits heavily in our company and have had very good results with them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason S
    Jun 20 '10 at 19:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Have you used them for assembly or just PCB fab? \$\endgroup\$
    – jluciani
    Jun 20 '10 at 20:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just PCB fab. Interesting fact; about half a block down the road from Advanced Circuits in Colorado is Advanced Assembly. They aren't specifically affiliated with Advanced Circuits, but if you place an order at AC, then AA will go pick the order up to assemble it. Saves on some shipping costs! \$\endgroup\$
    – ajs410
    Jun 25 '10 at 17:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ From what I understand, Advanced Assembly was started by the guy that started Advanced Circuits. He sold AC. I have not been impressed with PCBs from AC lately. I'm pretty impressed with AA, but the cost is pretty high. Better than local (non-junk quality) assemblers, though. \$\endgroup\$
    – darron
    Oct 21 '13 at 23:06
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You can use http://batchpcb.com/ from Sparkfun. It's made from small quantity as prototype.

They have a bot who check if your pcb is valid.

But they do not the smd assembly, and it take between 20-30 days to receive your pcb.

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Screaming circuits ( http://www.screamingcircuits.com/ ) has a proto assembly option and have a tie-up with Sunstone circuits for pcb fab. I've never used it them, so take my advice with a grain of salt!

They have a simple proto service where you send them all the parts and they charge you the labor for assembly. They do SMT and thru-hole (no BGA). Expect to pay about $500 for 5 boards.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ We use Screaming Circuits and haven't had any problems with them. They do assemble BGAs (though not as part of their cheapest service). \$\endgroup\$ Oct 23 '10 at 2:01
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I usually use Sierra Proto Express for quick PCB fab and assembly if its a complicated board like 6 layer with controlled dielectric thickness, non fr-4 dielectric material, small traces, BGAs, blind/buried vias, strange milling, those kinds of things. They also do a great gob with pick and place assembly.

If your building something really simple, 4 layers with standard dielectric thickness, no BGAs or ultra fine pitch SMT parts you can use almost anyone for PCB fab. just find the cheapest price.

For SMT parts on small run boards, they really aren't hard to hand solder if you have a decent iron (metcal mx500 or something). Or you can get a very basic solder paste stencil made for like $30 and bake them yourself, its not hard to do even on the the kitchen stove with a decent skillet and an IR temperature probe.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I looked up the Metcal. $650 is a bit over my budget. Is it really worth it? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dirk
    Jun 4 '10 at 18:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ depends on your usage. The problem with cheap soldering irons with temperature adjustment is that they need to be calibrated fairly often or you risk the chance of burning ICs. More accurately they would have to be calibrated for every possible tip. With Metcal(or similar) irons the temperature control is built into the tips which are ~$20 a piece. At the end of the day its a matter of how much use the solder station sees and how much $ you lose if you burn an IC. The first time you spend 3 days trying to debug a circuit as a result of a burnt IC you may sing praises of Metcal. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark
    Jun 5 '10 at 5:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dirk They say you can find them on eBay used from time to time for much less. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mark C
    Dec 10 '11 at 18:40
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For prototypes, APCircuits in Alberta, Canada, is outstanding. I've been using them for years with great success. They do well with production work too, but they're not quite as competitive on cost for the production stuff. The only competition for prototypes that I know of is BatchPCB, but they're slow (which might be worth it if your budget is tight).

For production work, or more finished prototypes, I've had good experiences with Sierra Circuits and PCB Express. I got a tour of Sierra Circuits about 5 years ago, and it was an impressive operation.

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For prototypes or personal projects, I just found this group buy thing the other day:

http://dorkbotpdx.org/wiki/pcb_order

  • Two layer: $5 per square inch for three copies of your board.
  • Four layer: $10 per square inch for three copies of your board.

Shipping within the US is included, and there are no setup fees. Your boards will be mailed within 9 days of the [monthly] order deadline.

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    \$\begingroup\$ (As my profile hints at) I've used this service before, and it's really nice. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 21 '12 at 23:53
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I've used Gold Phoenix several times with good results. It is only $99 per panel, and $20 more if you want electrical testing. I have always ordered the extra testing, and since there is always a few bad PCBs on the panel, I've always gotten an extra panel. So this really keeps the per-PCB cost down.

BatchPCB is a good way to get a prototype. They have Gold Phoenix do the fabrication.

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The list of PCB manufacturers on the Open Circuits wiki has practically every PCB manufacturer I know; many of them also do assembly now. There's another list at https://electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/1893/cheap-pcb-manufacture .

Have you considered one of the many companies that focus entirely on PCB assembly?

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Are you a student? A lot of places (Including Advanced Circuits 33Each deal; not an assembler) give great discounts.

More lists:
http://claymore.engineer.gvsu.edu/egr326/PCBAssembly
http://claymore.engineer.gvsu.edu/egr326/PCBManufacturing

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I added some links, and fixed the formatting of the list of links you had. \$\endgroup\$ May 7 '12 at 6:02
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iTeadStudio's OpenPCB prototyping service is really good. Their rates are $10 for 10 boards of 5cm*5cm, $22 for 10cm*5cm. So they are great for a small amount of small boards. (Shipping is also usually $4-5 depending on order). The production time is about a week and shipping is also about another week.

So for $14, 10- 2"x2" boards in two weeks is pretty good I'd say. They have excellent customer service too.

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My favorite is Advanced Assembly in Colorado. They are an assembly house (as I guess we can all surmise by the name) but they have ties with board houses. When I quote boards I alway have them quote first because they are the only place that the assembly itself isn't more expensive than the bare boards...unless you pick the one day turn option which is ridiculous money. They also take my loose parts and don't require reels, but everything is machine placed, unlike the guy down the road from me who will take the loose parts and place them with not quite so good quality.

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For UK I'd recommend Screenbond. Not as cheap as PCBCart but usually comparable to Eurocircuits on price. Unusually low tooling coists, usually £40 for DS/PTH. They can do down to 24hr turnround if you have deep pockets.

Also for UK I have used many times www.opcbr.co.uk they are very competitive and also help with all aspects of the manufacturing process.

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