Ordering Circuit Boards

PCB Vendors

These are some of the PCB vendors I’ve worked with or heard of. They are many more out there, though, so you might find a better deal elsewhere. This is a U.S.-centric list, since that where I’ve had most of my experience. If you have suggestions for other services, particularly in other parts of the world, please leave a comment and let us know.

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OSH Park preview of a PCB (top and bottom).

OSH Park

This is a great option unless you need a super-fast turn-around time. OSH Park pools PCB designs from multiple people, enabling them to get better pricing. As of this writing, their cost is $5 per square inch for two-layer boards, which gets you three copies of the PCB. You get the boards back in about two weeks. They’re purple. They offer a four-layer service as well, for twice the price. There are also options for ordering larger quantities of boards at lower prices and with longer turn-around times.

OSH Park is almost unique among board services in offering a visual preview of your board before you order it. This is a great way to do a simple sanity check to make sure that there’s nothing obviously wrong. In addition, they let you upload Eagle files directly so you can skip the Gerber generation process (although you lose the ability to pick which layers to include in your silk screen).

AP Circuits

AP Circuits is the service I use when I need boards quickly. If you order in the morning, they’ll often make the boards the next day and ship them Fedex overnight so you get them two days after you ordered them. If you order later in the day, it tends to take an extra day, i.e. order on Monday, get boards on Thursday. On the other hand, you pay for this speed. Their plus service (which includes solder-mask and silk-screen) can cost around $60 to $120 dollars for two boards, depending on their size. Fedex overnight shipping (to North America) adds an extra $25. They also offer a somewhat cheaper basic service without solder-mask or silk-screen. (And you’ll need to pay a bit extra for a second silk-screen layer with their plus service.) You’ll also pay extra for any board shape besides a rectangle or circle.

Advanced Circuits

Advanced Circuits is another good option. They offer a fast and relatively cheap bare-bones service and a $33 each deal for four or more two-layer boards (i.e. a total price of 4 x $33 = $132). The $33 each service include solder-mask, silk-screen, and custom board shapes and ships in five days from ordering. They have a $66 each dealfor four-layer boards (minimum four). If you’re a student, they’ll waive the four board minimum.

Gold Phoenix PCB

Gold Phoenix PCB is a good PCB fabrication service in China. In particular, I’m a fan of their special price deal. For $110, you get as many copies of your (two-layer) board as will fit into 155 square inches. They make the boards in five days and ship it Fedex, so you get them back about two weeks after ordering. You can pay extra for faster service, different color solder mask, and other options. This is often a good option for a medium-sized run of boards (e.g. 10 to 15 copies for a workshop).

SeeedStudio Fusion PCB

SeeedStudio is a Chinese maker and distributor of hobbyist electronics, who also offers a variety of fabrication services. They may be the cheapest of the options listed here, although you have to deal with shipping from China.

In addition, Seeed offers a low-volume PCB assembly service for boards using a common set of parts.

Sunstone PCB

I’ve heard about Sunstone a few times, but never used them. Still they may be a good option.

Other Opinions

For another take on this, see LadyAda’s list of PCB manufacturers.

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