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Forum Index : PCB Manufacturing : Low cost Chinese PCB Manufacturing

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OA47

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Joined: 11/04/2012
Location: Australia
Posts: 677
Posted: 03:38am 11 Mar 2018
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I have recently ordered some prototype PCBs from Chinese manufacturers and thought I might share the experience on this forum. The PCB's I required were 72mm X 64 mm, double sided and qualified for the under 100 mm squared offers at $US5 per 10 units advertised by a couple of manufacturers.

I set up an order with ITEAD as I have used them in the past even though they are not offering the $5 deal on past experience I thought I could trust their product if the cheaper units proved to be inferior. The cost to use ITEAD was $US19.90 for the 10 boards and $US10.26 for registered airmail shipment, making total cost of $US30.16. I chose the registered air mail as I thought it would be a lot quicker that surface mail. My payment through PAYPAL went through on the January 24th and I received the package on February 28th. There was no issues with the product other than I had made two minor errors in last minute changes to the design. These errors have not stopped me from loading and testing the boards with a minor cut track and a bit of jumper wire.

At the same time for comparison I set up an order with PCBGOGO.COM for the $US5 offer for 10 boards (2-3 days build time) and selected DHL shipping (3-5 days) at $US24 plus a PAYPAL fee of $US4 making a total of $US31 for the 10 units. Initially I was confronted with a quote of over $US60 for these units and when I enquired why I was told that my vias were 0.2mm which is under the minimum 0.3mm for their $5 deal. I modified my design to 0.3mm vias and was quoted the $US31 again. I made payment to PCBGOGO on January 24th and the units were ready for shipment on 27th and due to the weekend they holidayed in Melbourne Customs for 3 days and I picked them up from the PO on February 2nd.

I had noticed that PCBWay.com was also advertising the $US5 deal for 10 boards under 100mm2 (2-3 days build time) so I updated the Gerbers and changed the board colour to red to avoid issues of confusion. I had been wanting to order some PCBs for another project and as I was already to pay $US24 for DHL service (3-5 days delivery time) and $US4 for PAYPAL fees, I decided to add 5 units 105mmX190mm to the order. I was put back when I saw the DHL quote had jumped to $US36 but when I looked closer I noticed that I had exceeded the 1Kg weight allowed for the $US24 DHLcharge. The quote for the five additional PCBs was $US40 which I thought was acceptable. As I was over the 1Kg mark I decided to order an additional 10 units of the under 100mm2 units. The total for this order was $US5+$US5+$US40+$US36+$US4-$US5 discount, totalling $US85 which I paid on March 1st. (As an after thought I could have possibly reduced the board thickness which may have got my weight back under the 1Kg)

PCBWay, like PCBGOGO have a similar step by step way of monitoring progress of your order. I monitored the fabrication process over the 3 days, going from 0-100% and as promised the boards were ready to ship on the 4th March. I was sent a message to inform me that the boards were on there way and I could monitor their progress via the DHL site. I ticked the appropriate boxes on the DHL site so that they would send me an SMS at each stage of their journey. I may regret giving out my mobile number to for these SMS's as it may lead to junk messages in the future. To my amazment the package was delivered to my country Victorian address on the morning of the 7th March.

I was suspicious that the similarities in the web sites of PCBGOGO and PCBWay
may have meant I was dealling with the same company. My suspicions were hightened when the shipment from PCBGOGO arrived in a PCBWay box, but checking the documentation that came with the shipment shows completely diffrent factory addresses so I am not sure what is going on there.

In summary all of the boards were of excellent quality even though they may have
been specified as PROTOTYPE service. The only errors I could pick up were errors that I had suppled in design (original Gerbers had a lot of screen printing overlapping with the solder mask) The boards from ITEAD came as 1.2 mm as standard where the other boards were 1.7 mm thick as standard. All of the manufacturers placed the order number somewhere in the screen print so that they could be identified before loading.
The speed and cost of the boards from PCBWay in 7 days has to win hands down but maybe given the same circumstances next time PCBGOGO may be comparable and I liked the extra information presented by PCBGOGO during their manufacturing process. I certainly made a misjudgement using registered air mail from ITEAD as it was near half the cost of DHL and at 4 weeks delivery was close to the normal 6 week free service offered by China post. The comparison of the cost of the boards at near $US20 for 11 boards against $US5 for 10 boards will also be a factor in the future.

Hope someone will gain some knowledge from my experience and I would welcome any comments or questions.
OA47
 
Grogster

Guru

Joined: 31/12/2012
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 7193
Posted: 07:33am 11 Mar 2018
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I use GOGO for all my PCB's these days, and have never been disappointed with their service and the quality of the boards. Highly recommended.
Smoke makes things work. When the smoke gets out, it stops!
 
bigmik

Guru

Joined: 20/06/2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 2264
Posted: 02:52am 12 Mar 2018
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Thanks OA47,

I am just now putting together another order and will look at them again.

I usually use Shenzhen2u.com mainly as the others charge (quite a bit at times) to simply vee groove a 100mm x 100mm panel into 4 50mm x 50mm sub panels (all same design) Shenzhen2u do this for free.

Kind Regards,

Mick
Mick's uMite Stuff can be found >>> HERE (Kindly hosted by Dontronics) <<<
 
Clockmanfr

Guru

Joined: 23/10/2015
Location: France
Posts: 328
Posted: 08:40am 12 Mar 2018
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I also use Shenzhen2u for my big PCB's.

The only issue I have had was poor and missing silk screen printing on the Big board, double copper thickness, at A4 size. I suspect that the extra thick copper would leave a slight void on its edges. I just modified the silk screen layout slightly.

Costs have risen by about 40% since I started using this company in 2015.

I get the feeling that the company itself is a one man band. A middle man Who knows the actual PCB manufacturers, and gets his work slipped in. As sometimes my gerbers Zip file will not upload properly, and I have to send it on the back of a reply to a standard email.

I have a few European PCB manufactures here, some are cheeky by sending their orders to China manufacturers, and those that do actual manufacture PCB's are about 100% more expensive, with the Postage about the same costs from China.
Everything is possible, just give me time.

3 HughP's 3.7m Wind T's (11 years). 5kW PV on 3 Trackers, (7 yrs). 9kW PV AC coupled SH GTI's. OzInverter created Grid. 1300ah 48v.
 
bigmik

Guru

Joined: 20/06/2011
Location: Australia
Posts: 2264
Posted: 06:39am 13 Mar 2018
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Hi Clockmanfr,

i don't know how big the Company is, but I suspect they are not big..
My first order with them was back in October 2014 (Order #96), the price back then was $11.90US for 10 `panels' of `100mm x 100mm' Prototype run. They are now $9.90.. A typical cheap order inc cheap postage was back then was $21.20US in 2016 (the last time I bought a single set of PCBs from them) the price seems to be $21.47. I ordered 4 types yesterday and the total in Postage was $61.09.. (Order #3780)

So from that they have done on average 1050 orders per year.. Not big from world wide..

But I don't think their costs have increased 40%.. Maybe the premium service may had increased cost though.

Kind Regards,

Mick
Mick's uMite Stuff can be found >>> HERE (Kindly hosted by Dontronics) <<<
 
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