Yay! Our pilot run PCBs arrived. Finding a PCB manufacturer was not as easy as we hoped, mainly due to our special demands like
- red solder mask
- ENIG finish (it just looks great with the red solder mask, right?)
- 1 mm PCB thickness
- half-cut holes / castellation (this was the deal breaker for most manufacturers)
Also we really didn't want to set the panels ourselves so having it done by the manufacturer was also a big plus.
And all that of course for the cost of under 1$/piece in volume (the pilot run was not that cheap of course).
In the end we had them made at PCBway.com (that's a ref link, just so you know) and we are pretty pleased with the results.
We ordered them in handy 2x5 panels, because we thought 10 pieces was a good number of circuits to handle at a time.
We want to assemble the pilot run ourselves so we got a stencil at OSHstencils.com.
We applied the solder paste and placed the components manually using tweezers. Placing the components was much more exhausting then we expected (10 circuits was a bit too much, to be honest).
We put it in our reflow oven (actually it's the company's we work for):
And out came 9 drive module assemblies (we messed up the solder paste on one circuit so we only assembled 9).
So yeah, we're pretty pleased with the results and will now work on a test program for our rig and then hopefully qualify the pilot run for mass production.