Cheap PCB Manufacturers Cheap PCB Manufacturers
1. Easy to use. You can probably learn how to use it in a day.
2. Do not need to generate Gerbers to order PCBs.
1. Locked into a specific PCB manufacturer which is ExpressPCB.
2. It does not generate Gerbers. If you want to order PCBs from a different vendor, you have to pay a fee for it.
3. Primitive mechanical design capability. Creating irregular board outline can be challenging if not impossible.
4. Unable to create internal slots and openings.
5. Drill hole limited to 0.25" maximum and have limited choices on drill sizes.
Had a client who asked for a rapid development of a proof of concept prototype to demo in front of a few investors. Had not used PCB Express before, and decided to give it a shot because the pricing for one day turns was preferable to the alternatives. Submitted the board using their software at noon on Thursday, paid the extra for saturday delivery.
Next day (Friday), sent an email (no phone number) asking for the tracking number. Queue the crickets. Saturday, the boards do not arrive. So, I have to kludge together the circuit using proto-boards. Sent more emails.
FINALLY come monday night they get back to me, apologizing that they had some "manufacturing difficulties", but are pleased to say that the boards have shipped, and my saturday delivery refunded.
Yea, thanks a lot. Did not honor my request to cancel the order, waited to contact me until AFTER the boards shipped, and refused to refund or offer any sort of discount or remedy of any kind.
Considered giving 2 stars because the boards I did get were quality (and useless) However ultimately it's not even that they failed to deliver on time-- I understand issues come up. It's their lack of communication, and poor customer service.
I just sent a run of \"torture boards\" to all the cheap board houses. 3PCB was the only one who didn\'t give me incredible amounts of grief; just a simple \"are you sure you want to make this board that flagrantly violates all our rules\" -> \"yes\" -> \"ok boards are on their way\", hooray.
The torture boards reveal a lot of interesting things. First off, their copper plating/etching is WAY WAY WAY better than they advertise. I probably shouldn\'t post exactly how much because they don\'t want people relying on it and technically they don\'t have to keep using such a high quality process for prototype boards, but I\'ve confirmed that the actual lithographic resolution is substantially better than TWICE what they\'re advertising. Wow!
In fact, these boards are way above spec in every way except the soldermask registration (which is merely average) and silkscreen (which is digital-print, totally okay). On the stuff that matters -- the copper+drills -- they\'re giving you a much better board than they claim. I can mount 300um WLCSP (yes, that\'s 0.3mm ball-center-to-ball-center) on these boards no problem and I\'d known how good they would be I would\'ve tried for 200um!
The other board I sent them is an actual design, not a torture-board. It\'s still in fab but already I\'ve had a very positive experience; every other house I sent it to complained and raised all sorts of erroneous objections, and many of the PCB houses tried to jack up the price once they saw that my board had expensive components (even though it was 100% compliant with their design rules). 3PCB only raised one objection, which was actually a genuine mistake on my board (albeit a tiny one); and then accepted it on the second submission. I\'ll update this review when it comes back, but so far 3PCB is by far my favorite budget-prototype board house and I\'ll be using them for everything that doesn\'t need next-day turnaround.
I sent out another board; this time with the exact same four-layer GERBER package to five different board houses: 3PCB, smart-prototyping, shenzen2u, seeed studio, and pcbway. Once again the 3PCB boards...Read more »