Guides/PCB Fabrication

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This is a guide on generally how to get PCBs fabricated. It is NOT a guide on how to etch PCBs - that's the PCB Etching Instructions page.

Introduction

There comes a time when an electronic circuit just needs something a bit more permanent to be built on. That's when you will want to build a PCB.

Etching in the space

The space has some etching facilities, for which you can view the instructions here: PCB Etching Instructions.

Be warned, though, there are no tinning, through hole plating, silk screening facilities. It's great to get you by for a quick turnaround prototype, but for anything more fancy, you'll probably want to send your design off to the professionals.

Fabrication Houses

There are a number of places which can fabricate your board, here are some possibilities

  • UK/EU commercial suppliers. Fairly expensive but can be fast and good quality.
    • Spirit Pretty well priced. Also provide a free & fast 'Naked' PCB service [1] (though they do put advertising around your board, and they won't cut it to shape for you)
    • Stickleback [2]
    • Ragworm.eu (owned by Stickleback) hobbyist centric service
    • Eurocircuits EU based PCB house - several proto services. Fairly cheap for stainless SMT stencils.
    • PWT UK based full-capability PCB place for stuff Screenbond can't do. Typically cheaper than Eurociruits for 4-layer
    • Screenbond UK based PCB house with unusually low tooling costs (typ £40). 1 & 2 layer only. Can do 24hr turnround if you have deep pockets.
    • PCB-Pool Proto/low-volume oriented PCB service, not the cheapest these days but offer a free stainless SMT stencil.
    • PCB Train Fast turn around, good prices. Also have an assembly service and a 1 day (~£40 all in) prototype service for uncoated 2 layer boards.
  • Far-eastern suppliers.
    • PCBCART PCBs from China. Very cheap once you get over a square foot or two. Reliable, Quality generally good. A gazillion options - funky resist & silk colours
    • Seeed Studio Fusion PCB service
    • Elecrow
    • Gold Pheonix
  • Overseas
    • OSHPark - out of the DorkbotPDX batch pcb order, and then absorbed Sparkfun's BatchPCB


Comparisons

For some kind of reference for comparison, here is a table of quotes for a fairly standard small board:

  • Minimum quantity of boards
  • 20x50mm
  • 2-layer board
  • No particularly coloured silkscreen/soldermask
  • Through hole plating
  • 1oz copper
  • HASL or immersion silvering (whichever is cheaper)
  • FR4 1.6mm (or nearest cheapest equivalent).
Service Approx Turnaround time Approx Shipping time Silkscreen Cheapest shipping cost Total quote Number of PCBs Cost per PCB (delivered)
Ragworm.eu 10 working days 2 working days Orange only £0.00 (included) £5.95 1 £5.95
OSHPark see specs 12 days 7 - 28 days (average 11 days) Purple only £0.00 (included) £4.50 3 £1.50
PCB Train Express service (no silkscreen, just copper) 2 days  ? None £0.00 (included) £30.00 1 £30.00
PCB Train 2 layer (with soldermask and silkscreen) 10 days  ? Green only £0.00 (included) £44.10 1 £44.10
PCB Pool 2 layer Bare board 8 days  ? None  ? £60.16 10 £6.02
PCB Pool 2 layer (silkscreen + soldermask) 8 days  ? Green  ? £117.30 10 £11.73
ITead 2 layer  ? 4 - 5 days Green £2.29 (Airmail) £8.10 1 £8.10
Eurocircuits 25 days  ? Green £7.66 (Economy) £33.02 1 £33.02
Elecrow 2 layer  ? 7 to 25 days Various £2.70 £8.52 10 £0.85
Seeed Studio Fusion PCB 5 - 7 days 0-25 days (Registered airmail) Green £4.39 £10.21 5 £2.04
PCB Snap (Spirit Circuits)  ?  ? Green? £10.31 £61.86 1 £61.86
PCB Cart 12 days 3-5 days (DHL) Green £17.39 £59.59 1 £59.59
Gold Phoenix 5 days 3 days Green  ? £78.96 25 £3.15

NB: this is not an endorsement - prices may change, but this could be an indicative guide on roughly how much you might expect to pay.

See Also