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Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Hi I am interested to know your experiences on the time it takes to make your boards, and ship them to you.
I am mainly interested in DorkBotPBX, and spark funs BatchPCB, but any experience is welcome. Thanks.
best regards FIlip.

Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #1
Itead and Seeed is welcome too. We're working on a new PCB service wiki and will consolidate the data there.

We're also looking for open source images depicting:
*poor via alignment
*Connected PCB traces
*over etched PCB traces
Got a question? Please ask in the forum for the fastest answers.

Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #2
I've seen some blobs on traces from Seeed. I will take a picture next time I see one. Fill/trace shorts are pretty common on untested boards even meeting 8/8 spec. This can be due to imperfect solder mask causing shorts from soldering as well as incomplete copper etching on the part of the PCB house (I test boards before work if they are large. I have cut boards with a dremel to find the trace that is shorted and where at times.)

Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #3
- seeed, made only 2 batches 10x10cm so far, 10 boards tested were ok, other 10 "all" had some sort of imperfections (all were very easily fixable, mostly it was a short between lines) .. but to say again all tested boards were flawless. Problem is that it takes 4-6 weeks to get them from PRC to here

- itead, made 6 or 7 batches, 5x5 and 10x10cm, 2 batches were the new "open source 100% e-test" and I can say that I don't think they tested the boards as well... I found many errors on both batches (SID especially), some boards don't have via's drilled in!!! I found a piece of drill bit on one of the via's ... so during drilling a drill bit cracked, and no vias after that were drilled .. and those boards "passed e-test"... impossible the previous batches with 50% e-test I didn't even look at the "other 5 boards" but the marked 5 were perfect. Same issue as with SEEED, 4-6 weeks delivery time.

- Olimex, I used to use them often, the prices were great for the time (there were no cheap PRC services then) and if you ignore the super cheap 10x10 and 5x5cm boards from this factory seeed&itead are using, the prices from Olimex are comparable to prices from PRC manufacturers and the quality of olimex boards was incredible. All boards I did were with the ENIG finish and .. perfection .. that's all I cay say. Don't forget that during ex USSR Bulgaria was the "country that were making PCB's for the union" so they had a very good pcb manufacturing tools and after the sht hit the fan they were left with whole bunch of ppl with a lot of experience in pcb manufacturing .. olimex used that fact and are producing perfect boards for a long time.... more expensive then PRC but .. it really depends what you are looking for

- EI NIS Serbia, too expensive for the small batch as they charge some idiotic prices for "preparation", like they charge you 30EUR for dm2 for that, but when you get over the initial "preparation fee" the per board prices are very good (a colleague just posted prices on local forum yesterday, for e.g. 2layer 3.8dm2 board is 13.8eur, 2 layer 2.6dm2 is 10.7eur and 4layer 0.2dm2 is 3.3eur. To get these 2layer boards from seed would cost you 155$ for 10 (so 11.6eur for pcb) so it's not really a big difference taking into account that you will get boards from EI NIS in few days and that quality is higher then what I get from seeed/itead.. EI does 99% of the production for some French electronics manufacturers so they have very very very high quality standards they need to follow :D ... one other thing about EI - they do offer pcb population service too (both manual and pnp). The major issue with EI could be "how to get to them and how to pay them" as I'm not sure they are "open" to small orders from individuals from outside of Serbia, but I might be wrong

Those are all I tried. Olimex and EI do pcb's "for you only", itead/seeed and many other cheap ones do wait for number of orders so they can fill in the whole panel and then they make the panels and divide those "preparation" fees between the users... The major problem I have with seeed/itead is consistency, I got boards that looked like "hell yeah this is made in Sweden" and boards that looked like "who painted this cardboard green and sent it as pcb" ... 4-6 weeks can be a serious issue, lack of communication .. I once waited 2 months then pinged them "why are the boards not here" only to get "but we never received your gerbers" reply .. (and I know I sent them, they are in Sent folder on gmail) ... when you need something "other then ordinary" communication can be a bitch.. Olimex guy's speak English very good ... donno about EI guy's I use Serbian to talk to them :D

Btw there used to be a huge 16 layer 2/2 capable factory in Macedonia but was fscked up by some terrorists from North. The factory was supposed to be privatized and was supposed to start working last year, I have no clue what happened there, if they are up or they decided to just sell the equipment and cover losses ... If we have some readers from Macedonia they could fill us in :)


Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #5
I have only use Itead once.
I sent gerbers on 29'th december and it was shipped in 4'th January though it took more than 30 days in postal to reach me in India though India being the neighbour country of china.
The board I've sent to manufacture had nice wide traces/spaces and was non-SMD design. For that reason all 10 boards were perfect in my eye (I havent assembled them all, but one). Images at my blog http://goo.gl/MNFou
I'm very dissatisfied with the shipping.

I haven't had directly ordered something with Seeed, but have received some Seeed manufactured boards from the free pcb drawer. All the boards were excellent. The first board I received from free pcb drawer was a buspirate soic edition (those days there was nothing called diy edition and soic edition was freely avail;able in the drawer). The board didnt had any mark (non-etested) but the buspirate worked without error even I was new to smd soldering those days.
The only shipment I received from Seeed was courtesy of DP, it was a gifted DP tshirt and as per the tracking number, I saw it reached me in only 6 days after they had dispatched it.
For this reason, next time I'll order with Seeedstudio for my prototype pcbs of final version of my solar monitor project (unpublished yet, opensource ofcourse).

Oh and one thing, I'm unsure if the same will happen to seeed or not, I had very hard communication with iTead. They use meaningless english words in their reply. Even the forum was useless.
I got reply regarding my gerbers, "Are there no windowing  drill holes on the bottom side? All the the holes will be covered according to the current design." I got no explanation on this in their forum too. After I got the boards in my hand, I understood they were referring to tented vias(without pads).
Still learning
-Arup

Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #6
[quote author="arupbsk"]I have only use Itead once.
I sent gerbers on 29'th december and it was shipped in 4'th January though it took more than 30 days in postal to reach me in India though India being the neighbour country of china.
Quote

This is during the chinese newyear. During that time shipping take always lots of time. THe remaining of the year shipping is much quicker. usually it takes 1-3 weeks to ship it to .nl, europe, mostly in between. I think those cheap chinese sellers use a service that uses 'unused' space in an aircraft to send things cheap to you. Downside it will take some time :)

[quote author="arupbsk"]
Oh and one thing, I'm unsure if the same will happen to seeed or not, I had very hard communication with iTead. They use meaningless english words in their reply. Even the forum was useless.
I got reply regarding my gerbers, "Are there no windowing  drill holes on the bottom side? All the the holes will be covered according to the current design." I got no explanation on this in their forum too. After I got the boards in my hand, I understood they were referring to tented vias(without pads).
[/quote][/quote]

This is a problem with more eastern countries :) I beleive seeed has a native englisch speaker in their workforce

Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #7
Ian has directed pictures from the request for PCB manf. errors here.  These images can be used in whatever way is helpful.

This is an example of a primarily through hole board that has a single SMT component.  The SMT component is always assembled by hand. In this case, the assembler has solder all of the pins, but the IC isn't actually sitting on the pads!  The assembler appears to have tacked down one corner and then hastily soldered the remaining pins. I've also had issues where the corners were tacked down but none of the other pins were soldered ( I don't have any pictures of these, but they just look like a partially soldering chip).
[attachment=1]
[attachment=0]

Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #8
Seeed Studio, 100mm by 100mm, March 2011:

On the front, many vias are drilled too far "south" relative to the copper.  Actually, that's true for most of the drilled holes.  The back looks decent.

Edit: There also are vias featuring a drill size much smaller than the copper.  This was a design problem, not a manufacturing problem.  :-)

Edit2: Grammar and numeric errors fixed.  I can't believe I typed "to" instead of "too"!

Image license: CC BY-SA

Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #9
Hi! Look at  the 5-th pin. About 5% of PCB's have this short to GND.

Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #10
Hi,

I also have ordered some PCBs from Seeds Fusion Service. They are 50 x 40 mm in size.
All Vias should have been covered by the stop mask, but some vias are not covered.
Also there are quite some off-center drilled vias. E.g. the one in the middle of IC1 or the one at pin 7.

[attachment=0]
License: CC BY-SA

However all PCBs work for me, so far all vias have contact and I have not seen shorts.

regards,
twinpeaks

Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #11
[quote author="twinpeaks"]
All Vias should have been covered by the stop mask, but some vias are not covered.
[/quote]

Have you check your gerber? If via is covered by the solder mask or not is defined in your gerber. It is possible that your gerber is faulty (happened to me many times)

Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #12
[quote author="arhi"]
Have you check your gerber? If via is covered by the solder mask or not is defined in your gerber.[/quote]
Yes, gerber files are OK. This occured not on every PCB of the batch and not always at the same vias. Some PCBs are 100% good, but most PCBs have some vias not covered. Fortunately this was not a problem for this design.

twinpeaks


Re: Cheap PCB manufacturing timelines

Reply #14
Here is a picture of a mis-aligned via drill from ITead.  I thought this one showed a full crescent.

OK, got to get past new user thing to expire to post a link.

--Carl