Seeed Studio vs ITead Studio PCB service head to head

in PCBs by DP | 13 comments

Florin made a head to head comparison of Seeed and ITead’s inexpensive PCB services. He made the orders with the same design files, on the same day. While the Seeed order came in after 4 weeks, ITead’s came just 15 days after the order was made. The author however suspects it might have been a fluke, since all his earlier orders from ITead took around 4 weeks to complete too.

In Florin’s opinion the quality was identical. In the high resolution pictures it appears that the Seeed boards have better silk screen and drill positioning. This is odd because they came from the same PCB fab unaltered! Perhaps a cheaper service, or just general inconsistency between batches or boards?

Read the full comparison on his blog, along with super hi-res pictures of the boards.

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Comments

  1. arhi says:

    This really is comparing 2 batches of boards since both seeed and itead send your gerbers to same factory … so this is 2 batches of pcb’s from same factory, one batch was better then the other, it just show how unreliable that factory is, nothing else, next time you do the boards with seeed and itead the situation can be reversed or they can both produce good or bad boards …

  2. Mats says:

    Last year I ordered a batch of 50 blue pcbs from Seeed and they had two slightly different blue shades. So apparently they had to refill the hopper (is that the right word for the container holding the paint in the machine?) during my batch. Maybe it was some green residue in the first part of the batch that affected the color.

    So even within the same batch there can be color differences – so I’m not surprised to see color differences between two unrelated batches.

  3. tinito says:

    +1 to ahri: the fab is the same, different results means low reliability.
    About the timing, i’ve always experienced faster processing with ITead, maybe as they are smaller than seeed and with a lower amount of orders.
    BTW, I love both of them, they actually changed the way I prototype!

  4. Willemite says:

    Slightly off topic, but ENIG finish (from OSH) sure is nice to solder onto. SMD parts really love it…

    • Mats says:

      ENIG looks nice and makes things solderable for a long time. But the HASL makes hand soldering a bit quicker since you can usually temporary tack down one side of the parts without adding any solder so you can work with only two hands (instead of requiring three – tweezer, iron and solder) :-)

  5. arhi says:

    I too love them both, I have problem with Itead as they require paypal while seeed allow regular ccard payment so I tend to use seeed more often, I get same time on both providers (~4 weeks) just like with any other shipment from PRC. Looks like it takes 4 weeks to get stuff from PRC to Serbia so few days seeed/itead take to make the boards really makes no difference…. It’s not a fast way to prototype stuff so I still have to make pcb’s in bathroom from time to time but yes.. very affordable …

    for small pitc ENIG rules !!! thing with HASL and HASL-LeadFree is that they tin the boards using non chemical method, I think they use wave or hot air method to tin the boards so that makes uneven level for the pads as there’s no way they can precisely put same amount of solder on each pad while with ENIG they use chemical process so the amount of gold is perfectly same so when you put your smd component on it fits perfectly :D … I don’t know if they add a layer of nicl underneath the gold or they push gold directly on copper as directly on copper is cheaper but significantly lower quality (there’s some long story about that and I forgot it :D but for long time stuff you should not goldplate copper directly, something forms between gold and copper I think … not an issue for pads as you melt the gold from copper anyhow but it is issue for connectors and test points)

  6. iabarry says:

    Is there a secret code (like between Mr Spock and Captain Kirk?) Does “4-6 days” in English mean “4-6 weeks in Chinese”? Itead provides no useful feedback on progress, which is disconcerting as I placed an order for ~$200. Requests for status go unanswered. I’m shocked! (not really). Disappointed: yes. Does Seeed provide any better communication and real service?

    • arhi says:

      I had better experience with seeed wrt communication but can’t say I was super satisfied with them :( .. maybe better then itead but not significantly

    • Mike says:

      I’m on my second order from iTead. First batch, I was expecting 4-6 days production and paid for the faster shipping so I was expecting 2 weeks max. 5 weeks went by and nothing. I finally ask about it and they say “oh sorry, we were waiting on you”, but they conveniently forgot to actually ask me anything. Price is so good I figured “fine, they made a mistake, I’ll try them again”.. nope. Fortunately, so far the boards have been working.
      Ordered another board on Aug 22. Still says “processing” Sept 5th. I ask and they apologize for the long delay and say they will ship today. Better than last time (assuming they actually ship), but I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t ask? Needless to say, regardless of the price, I will not be using them again. This second board had smaller trace/width than the first board so I’m hoping there isn’t any issues with them.

      • Josh says:

        Similar experience to Mike here. Ordered August 2, no communication, asked on 8/23, on 8/26 I got a reply that it had been completed and would ship late that day. I replied within an hour asking to expedite the shipping – either at my expense (okay) or theirs (better), because they quoted 4-6 days and it had been 24 to that point. They said no because it had already shipped. The next day, I got a tracking number. Still waiting on my boards now but I won’t use them again, if only for the lack of communication.

  7. christophe says:

    i have ordered to seeed 5 deferent PCB for an amount of 120€ 3 month ago , and i never received anything…..
    this manufacturer is completely unreliable …..

  8. iabarry says:

    Neither fully understands good customer service. There continue to be language barriers. It is necessary with EVERY order to follow up and ask questions. Christophe, I suspect they may not have your files (and you think you sent them) or there were problems with the files. You have to ask for an update at least weekly to get the answers you want.

  9. Sleepwalker3 says:

    I got boards done by Seeed in Mid Jan. 2014 and didn’t think they’d get done before Chinese festival, but as per all my previous orders, they were done within about a week and at my doorstep via DHL within about 10 days from when I emailed my order – that’s 10 days in total to make the boards and fly them to Aus, get them through customs and out to my door. I sent the details early one friday morning and they arrived I think the Monday or Tues Week, which I think is pretty darn good. The boards were fine, no issues and they even correctly followed my instructions for some slightly unusual requests, which I didn’t think they’d get right. I’ve never waited more than about 14 days and that’s even when I’ve doubled up orders and ask them to send them in the one freight bag.

    @Christophe – I’d strongly suggest you send them an email if you haven’t received some sort of reply from them within a few working days. Seeed always emails me saying they have been passed, being processed, sent, etc. It’s been much the same for me on every board I’ve had done there. If you haven’t had an email within a week, then it’s a safe bet something has gone wrong and if you contact them I’m sure they’ll try to sort it out. Make sure you give them all the order number details, etc. I usually get them sent with DHL, as although it costs a lot more, it ensures I’ll get them quickly and reliably.

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