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'[EE] Fast, Cheap, and Good PCB manufacturer'
2009\03\11@024249 by Forrest W Christian

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Right now I have 3 PCB manufacturers I use:

AP circuits in Canada for the quickturn proto's where I just need a
board to validate a design that I'm not that certain of (and when I'm a
hurry)
PCBgeek.com, for where I can wait 10 days or so for full-spec PCB's,
primarily for those initial "not quite production" runs - where I need a
few boards to to final production testing (and beta units) with.
And PCBfabrication.com for my full-spec vscored, full-production boards.

Occasionally I find I need something like PCBgeek which will turn faster
than 10 days.   That is, full spec (1 side silkscreen + 2 side mask)
boards, around a dozen or so (depending on board size) boards, no vscore
or special things.   But I often need them in 2-3 days.  Usually due to
lack of planning on my part, or sometimes just the desire to have full
spec boards for something I'm working on.   PCBgeek is $90 shipped for
200sq in of boards, but like I said takes around 10 days or so, and
often more if there are customs issues.

What I'd like is someone that I could (in the US) send gerbers to and
have a dozen or so full-spec boards (typically around 10sq inches each)
show up on my door in 3-4 days (I.E. order over one weekend (aka by
Monday AM), and have it in hand for the next weekend (by Thu or Fri PM)).

So far, everything I've found is prohibitively expensive.   So, really
what I'm asking for is all three:  Fast, Cheap and Good.   I know this
is likely unreasonable.  I *am* willing to pay more for this, but not
the few hundred dollars I am often quoted.   I'm envisioning $150 or so,
but I could live with $179 or so, for around 200 sq inches of boards,
delivered.   But am open to suggestions.

Ideas?

-forrest


2009\03\11@025924 by Vitaliy

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Forrest W Christian wrote:
> What I'd like is someone that I could (in the US) send gerbers to and
> have a dozen or so full-spec boards (typically around 10sq inches each)
> show up on my door in 3-4 days (I.E. order over one weekend (aka by
> Monday AM), and have it in hand for the next weekend (by Thu or Fri PM)).
>
> So far, everything I've found is prohibitively expensive.   So, really
> what I'm asking for is all three:  Fast, Cheap and Good.   I know this
> is likely unreasonable.  I *am* willing to pay more for this, but not
> the few hundred dollars I am often quoted.   I'm envisioning $150 or so,
> but I could live with $179 or so, for around 200 sq inches of boards,
> delivered.   But am open to suggestions.
>
> Ideas?

You know, we just started using this new PCB proto place, but I can't for
the life of me find the URL. I will ask another engineer tomorrow.

We ordered two small boards from them: double sided, soldermask, silkscreen.
The cost was around $90, and they were delivered in three days (using 2nd
day shipping).

Vitaliy

2009\03\11@030509 by Jesse Lackey

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Hi... for that 'middle ground', I use pcbfabexpress.com.

I go barebonespcb.com for the rough protos, pcbfabexpress for a few to
say 20 (they'll do all you want but it starts to not make sense after 20
or so), and then either pcbnet.com or more recently just let my contract
assembler handle the production ordering of boards.

You can choose 3,5,10 day turns, and there are some limits as to what
they can do in those times with a basic online quote but it is fine for
the majority of more "normal" boards.

They're in silicon valley.

J



Forrest W Christian wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2009\03\11@074032 by olin piclist

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Forrest W Christian wrote:
> But I often need them in 2-3 days.  Usually due to
> lack of planning on my part,

Exactly.

We routinely do prototype PCBs, and the normal 1 1/2 to 2 week lead time is
usually not a problem.  You send out for the PCBs as soon as you have the
board design done.  Then while that's in process you create the BOM and
order parts.  Parts will usually take a little less time to arrive than a
normal turn PCB, but not much.  There are always other projects going on, so
you work on them while you wait the week or so for parts and boards of the
first project to arrive.  With a little planning this is usually no issue
and no overall time is lost.

> So, really
> what I'm asking for is all three:  Fast, Cheap and Good.

It doesn't work that way.  You get to pick only two.

> I know this is likely unreasonable.

No, it is definitely unreasonable.

> I *am* willing to pay more for this, but not
> the few hundred dollars I am often quoted.   I'm envisioning $150 or so,
> but I could live with $179 or so, for around 200 sq inches of boards,
> delivered.

That's unrealistic.  If you really need fast, use Advanced Circuits, but it
will cost you.

> But am open to suggestions.

Plan better.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\03\11@074112 by olin piclist

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Vitaliy wrote:
> We ordered two small boards from them: double sided, soldermask,
> silkscreen. The cost was around $90, and they were delivered in three
> days (using 2nd day shipping).

Sounds very good if the boards were tested.  However, I bet is wasn't 200
square inches as the OP wants.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\03\11@144236 by Vitaliy

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Vitaliy wrote:
{Quote hidden}

http://www.sunstone.com

Oh, and allegedly they have the most user-friendly/interactive website
(according to a colleague).

Vitaliy

2009\03\11@160605 by olin piclist

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Vitaliy wrote:
> http://www.sunstone.com
>
> Oh, and allegedly they have the most user-friendly/interactive website
> (according to a colleague).

I just took a look and the price is quite high.  As a example I had it quote
on a 5x4 inch board with 200 holes, solder mask both sides, silkscreen on
top only, electrically tested.  A single board is $350 for 3 day turn.  5
boards (100 square inches) is $429 for 3 day turn.

I haven't looked at the details, but if you sent them files on Monday, they
probably count Tue Wed Thu as the three days.  It would probably be shipped
on Friday, so you'd get it Monday or Tuesday.  In other words, this is
probably 1 week from sending files to receiving boards.  That's only a days
longer than Gold Phoenix for a lot more money.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\03\11@182201 by Vitaliy

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Olin Lathrop wrote:
>> http://www.sunstone.com
>>
>> Oh, and allegedly they have the most user-friendly/interactive website
>> (according to a colleague).
>
> I just took a look and the price is quite high.  As a example I had it
> quote
> on a 5x4 inch board with 200 holes, solder mask both sides, silkscreen on
> top only, electrically tested.  A single board is $350 for 3 day turn.  5
> boards (100 square inches) is $429 for 3 day turn.
>
> I haven't looked at the details, but if you sent them files on Monday,
> they
> probably count Tue Wed Thu as the three days.  It would probably be
> shipped
> on Friday, so you'd get it Monday or Tuesday.  In other words, this is
> probably 1 week from sending files to receiving boards.  That's only a
> days
> longer than Gold Phoenix for a lot more money.

Olin, I don't know what the deal is, we got two boards roughly 1x3", order
placed on Monday, we got them same week for $90.

Vitaliy

2009\03\11@182312 by Vitaliy

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Olin Lathrop wrote:
>> We ordered two small boards from them: double sided, soldermask,
>> silkscreen. The cost was around $90, and they were delivered in three
>> days (using 2nd day shipping).
>
> Sounds very good if the boards were tested.  However, I bet is wasn't 200
> square inches as the OP wants.

Tested? When we order boards from AC, the boards aren't tested (and
unfortunately we sometimes get boards that are defective). Luckily, any
problems are usually easy to fix on a 2-layer PCB.

Vitaliy

2009\03\11@191004 by solarwind

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On Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 6:41 AM, Olin Lathrop <spam_OUTolin_piclistTakeThisOuTspamembedinc.com> wrote:
>> So, really
>> what I'm asking for is all three:  Fast, Cheap and Good.
>
> It doesn't work that way.  You get to pick only two.

LOL! Nice one!

2009\03\11@212026 by Joseph Bento

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On Mar 11, 2009, at 5:10 PM, solarwind wrote:

> On Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 6:41 AM, Olin Lathrop <.....olin_piclistKILLspamspam@spam@embedinc.com
> > wrote:
>>> So, really
>>> what I'm asking for is all three:  Fast, Cheap and Good.
>>
>> It doesn't work that way.  You get to pick only two.
>
> LOL! Nice one!

Can we add easy to the equation?  :-)

I just tried out ExpressPCB's $51 special for three boards.  I'm very  
pleased!  I'll admit this was for hobby use and not professional,  
though for simple prototypes, their service might be equally good.  No  
gerbers, thereby locking you into their service, but the software is  
free.

Here's an example of the board I had made.  The project was a single-
VFD clock.  The VFD digit alternates for the time, and the LEDs show  
h10's, h1's, m10's, m1 to designate the displayed digit.

Top:  http://www.kirtland.com/Projects_files/Single_VFD/Images/VFD_Top.jpg

Front:  http://www.kirtland.com/Projects_files/Single_VFD/Images/VFD_Front.jpg

Well, that really isn't part of the board, but I had to show off the  
cool VFD tube!

Bottom:
kirtland.com/Projects_files/Single_VFD/Images/VFD_PCB.jpg

The wire correction was a stupid mistake on my part - I got the  
polarity of the coaxial power jack backward.  Oh well - what else is  
kynar wire for?

Joe

2009\03\11@212503 by Vitaliy

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solarwind wrote:
On Wed, Mar 11, 2009 at 6:41 AM, Olin Lathrop <olin_piclistspamKILLspamembedinc.com>
wrote:
>> So, really
>> what I'm asking for is all three: Fast, Cheap and Good.
>
> It doesn't work that way. You get to pick only two.

LOL! Nice one!

------------

Man, you're easily amused. :)

"Do you want Fast, Cheap, or Good? Pick any two"  is a well-known
engineering/project management axiom. The OP said he's looking for ways to
break the rule, and Olin told him he can't. :)

In fact, it is definitely possible to have all three -- for example, when a
new technology or a tool becomes available. Take the history of car
manufacturing, for example. But then it becomes the new benchmark, and we're
back at Square 1.

Vitaliy

2009\03\12@010343 by Forrest W Christian

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Olin Lathrop wrote:
> We routinely do prototype PCBs, and the normal 1 1/2 to 2 week lead time is
> usually not a problem.
In reality, it's the same here....   The problem is when the "usually"
doesn't apply....

When I'm in rapid turnaround, R&D mode (which is rarely), I just get
some prototype "bare" boards, with a day or two turn from somewhere for
cheap.  That isn't a problem.   And when I need full spec boards, the
1-2 weeks usually isn't a problem.

But occasionally I need the full spec boards and 1-2 weeks *is* a
problem.   And I really hate paying $40/board for something I can wait 2
weeks for and get for $1.   I was hoping that someone would point me
toward the middle ground ...  there are some ones that people have
mentioned which are better that what I was aware of.  But you would
think that some Chinese shop would have sprung up which does 24 hour
turn, and then sticks them in a fedex box for the other 2 days.  (order
Mon, Ship Wed, arrive Fri).  And although I do require full test on my
production boards, I would be willing to skip that for this type of
situation.

-forrest

2009\03\12@070941 by fred jones

picon face


I know you can't keep from giving the Chinese your money in this day and age.  But I try to do it as little as possible...only when it can't be avoided.

FJ



> But you would
> think that some Chinese shop would have sprung up which does 24 hour
> turn, and then sticks them in a fedex box for the other 2 days. (order
> Mon, Ship Wed, arrive Fri). And although I do require full test on my
> production boards, I would be willing to skip that for this type of
> situation.
>
> -forrest


_________________________________________________________________
Windows Live™: Life without walls.
http://windowslive.com/explore?ocid=TXT_TAGLM_WL_allup_1a_explore_032009

2009\03\12@075153 by olin piclist

face picon face
Vitaliy wrote:
> Olin, I don't know what the deal is, we got two boards roughly 1x3",
> order placed on Monday, we got them same week for $90.

That's rather different than their web site leads you to believe.  Maybe
there was a "special" somewhere I didn't see.  I followed the link to
prototype runs if I remember right.

Was that tested for the $90?  Untested boards are pretty much useless.  The
web page I saw showed electrical testing as a separate option, so I suspect
the $90 didn't include it.  If so, this is the same price as Gold Phoenix
for a lot less board and a little faster.  From Gold Phoenix you would have
gotten 33 boards tested and delivered to you for $109 about 1 1/2 to 2 weeks
later.  Untested would be $89 delivered, but that is a meaningless figure.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\03\12@075649 by olin piclist

face picon face
Vitaliy wrote:
> Tested? When we order boards from AC, the boards aren't tested (and
> unfortunately we sometimes get boards that are defective). Luckily,
> any problems are usually easy to fix on a 2-layer PCB.

Unless you are doing a large production run and have the ability to test the
boards yourself, you always want to have your boards electrically tested.

Just having to diagnose a problem, regardless of how easy it is to fix, will
cost more than have the PC board vendor make sure the boards are correct.
Especially for prototypes when your circuit is suspect, you want to have one
less thing that could be at fault.  It just doesn't make sense for you to
test boards by putting parts on them and then seeing if the circuit works.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2009\03\12@080545 by Tony Vandiver

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Of course that means you have to add local to the pick two list, i.e.
fast, good, cheap, local - pick two.  Don't know about the best deal (I
also use sunstone/pcbexpress a lot for quickturn), but when I was in
this predicament during Chinese New Year, I found what I thought was a
good candidate in http://www.superpcb.com.  Looked like they were a US company
fronting Chinese mfg, but pricing was good on fullup boards and
turnaround was in the neighborhood of a week.

Thanks,

Tony


fred jones wrote:
> I know you can't keep from giving the Chinese your money in this day and age.  But I try to do it as little as possible...only when it can't be avoided.
>
> FJ
>
> _________________________________________________________________
> Windows Live™: Life without walls.
> windowslive.com/explore?ocid=TXT_TAGLM_WL_allup_1a_explore_032009
>

2009\03\12@082922 by Chris Smolinski

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Speaking of cheap and good, I need to have a small batch (25 or so)
of very simple (double sided, thru-hole parts only, about 2 x 4
inches) boards made. I've used Advanced Circuits "bare bones" service
for this type of board before, and had acceptable results. Their
current pricing isn't too bad, but from memory they rape you on
shipping. Anyone know of an even less expensive service? (Yes, i'm
chea^H^H^H^H frugal)  I don't need fast.

--

---
Chris Smolinski
Black Cat Systems
http://www.blackcatsystems.com

2009\03\12@121040 by Mark Rages

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On Thu, Mar 12, 2009 at 7:29 AM, Chris Smolinski
<.....csmolinskiKILLspamspam.....blackcatsystems.com> wrote:
> Speaking of cheap and good, I need to have a small batch (25 or so)
> of very simple (double sided, thru-hole parts only, about 2 x 4
> inches) boards made. I've used Advanced Circuits "bare bones" service
> for this type of board before, and had acceptable results. Their
> current pricing isn't too bad, but from memory they rape you on
> shipping. Anyone know of an even less expensive service? (Yes, i'm
> chea^H^H^H^H frugal)  I don't need fast.
>

custompcb.com.  Have them panelize it for you, you can get lots of 2x4
boards out of a panel.  Malaysia.

(regarding Sunstone:  I priced a board with them, and it was over
twice the Advanced Circuits cost!)

Regards,
Mark
markrages@gmail
--
Mark Rages, Engineer
Midwest Telecine LLC
EraseMEmarkragesspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTmidwesttelecine.com

2009\03\12@142004 by Forrest W Christian

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pcbgeek.com.  $90 for 200sq inches.   For a 8 sq in board you will end
up with around 25 boards, full spec, delivered to your doorstop, in
about 2 weeks.

Chris Smolinski wrote:
> Speaking of cheap and good, I need to have a small batch (25 or so)
> of very simple (double sided, thru-hole parts only, about 2 x 4
> inches) boards made. I've used Advanced Circuits "bare bones" service
> for this type of board before, and had acceptable results. Their
> current pricing isn't too bad, but from memory they rape you on
> shipping. Anyone know of an even less expensive service? (Yes, i'm
> chea^H^H^H^H frugal)  I don't need fast.
>
>  

2009\03\12@142955 by Forrest W Christian

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Olin Lathrop wrote:
>
> Just having to diagnose a problem, regardless of how easy it is to fix, will
> cost more than have the PC board vendor make sure the boards are correct.
> Especially for prototypes when your circuit is suspect, you want to have one
> less thing that could be at fault.  It just doesn't make sense for you to
> test boards by putting parts on them and then seeing if the circuit works.
If my boards were more complex, I would probably agree with you 100%.    
But, right now I'm still pretty much 100% through hole, double sided,
and very conservative with the vias.  Plus, my clearances and trace
widths are almost always well over what the board manufacturer can make
in the process they run the boards through.

Plus, if you can't quickly diagnose a unconnected board, you must not
have very good troubleshooting skills.  Or at least didn't spend a lot
of time dealing with digital circuits back when *everything* was
socketed, and the sockets were crap, and so the most common problem was
an unconnected.    When I'm having a problem I always test all the pins
on the net to determine if they are connected, and seeing the same
(correct) voltages or signals.

-forrest

2009\03\12@145947 by Bob Blick

face
flavicon
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On Thu, 12 Mar 2009 12:19:58 -0600, "Forrest W Christian"
<forrestcspamspam_OUTimach.com> said:
> pcbgeek.com.  $90 for 200sq inches.   For a 8 sq in board you will end
> up with around 25 boards, full spec, delivered to your doorstop, in
> about 2 weeks.

Interesting that they offer PCB + paste stencil + SMT/TH assembly for
$287. I guess you have to ship the parts to them first? And is that for
200sqin of boards?

Great web site design :)

Cheerful regards,

Bob

--
http://www.fastmail.fm - Accessible with your email software
                         or over the web

2009\03\12@152615 by Vitaliy

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Olin Lathrop wrote:
>> Olin, I don't know what the deal is, we got two boards roughly 1x3",
>> order placed on Monday, we got them same week for $90.
>
> That's rather different than their web site leads you to believe.  Maybe
> there was a "special" somewhere I didn't see.  I followed the link to
> prototype runs if I remember right.

Yes, we used a coupon. Last night I watched a guy place another order with
them for slightly larger boards, with more route points, the total was $120.


> Was that tested for the $90?  Untested boards are pretty much useless.

We never had our proto PCBs tested, because we find that the few problems
that occur, are super easy to troubleshoot and fix.


> If so, this is the same price as Gold Phoenix
> for a lot less board and a little faster.  From Gold Phoenix you would
> have
> gotten 33 boards tested and delivered to you for $109 about 1 1/2 to 2
> weeks
> later.  Untested would be $89 delivered, but that is a meaningless figure.

We got the boards within days (speed was important, we want to test the
protos & launch the product ASAP).

Vitaliy

2009\03\12@153531 by Vitaliy

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Forrest W Christian wrote:


> Olin Lathrop wrote:
>>
>> Just having to diagnose a problem, regardless of how easy it is to fix,
>> will
>> cost more than have the PC board vendor make sure the boards are correct.
>> Especially for prototypes when your circuit is suspect, you want to have
>> one
>> less thing that could be at fault.  It just doesn't make sense for you to
>> test boards by putting parts on them and then seeing if the circuit
>> works.

In fact, that's exactly what we have been successfully doing for almost 7
years now.


> If my boards were more complex, I would probably agree with you 100%.
> But, right now I'm still pretty much 100% through hole, double sided,
> and very conservative with the vias.  Plus, my clearances and trace
> widths are almost always well over what the board manufacturer can make
> in the process they run the boards through.

Our designs are usually mixed PTH/SMT, with lots of vias, and we keep
cramming more and more parts onto shrinking PCBs, so the parts keep getting
smaller. It still costs less to troubleshoot an occasional defective PCB
than to pay for testing every time (we order protos on average every two
weeks).


> Plus, if you can't quickly diagnose a unconnected board, you must not
> have very good troubleshooting skills.

This was my sentiment, too. We have a nice wide angle stereo microscope, and
normally you know which part of the circuit the problem is in, so you
inspect that region, fix the trace/short, and you're done. I don't know why
Olin is making such a big deal out of testing. Calling untested PCBs
"useless" is a serious exaggeration.

Vitaliy

2009\03\12@173645 by William \Chops\ Westfield

face picon face

On Mar 11, 2009, at 6:20 PM, Joseph Bento wrote:

> I just tried out ExpressPCB's $51 special for three boards.


> Maybe there was a "special" somewhere I didn't see.

I'm pretty sick of having to wade through a crop of "special offers"
to figure out whether a board shop is appropriate to my needs or not.
By the time you figure out all the missing pieces (extra $$), weird
rules (hole sizes, multiple designs, etc)  Bah!

The batchpcb system of $x/in^2 + $y setup is much more palatable as
a system (though prices are frequently quite high this way.)

BillW

2009\03\13@063736 by cdb

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Appreciate this is pushing this thread a bit, but I've just discovered
a Croation company/person advertising PCB manufacture. Looks like
someone setting up a home enterprise.

Might be good for hobby and one off users.

States : 2 day turnaround and charges US$29.99 + $0.40/sq" for DS
board. No mask or plating.

cgi.ebay.com.au/PCB-Copper-Board-Clad-Design-FR4-Etching-Servic
e_W0QQitemZ220372340015QQcmdZViewItemQQptZAU_B_I_Electrical_Test_Equip
ment?hash=item220372340015&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66%3A2%7C65%
3A1%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318

Colin
--
cdb, @spam@colinKILLspamspambtech-online.co.uk on 13/03/2009

Web presence: http://www.btech-online.co.uk  

Hosted by:  http://www.1and1.co.uk/?k_id=7988359






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