Cheappest PCB Prototyping - Where to Make Our Own PCB ?

About: I am an electrical engineer,interested in software and hardsare

If you don't have your own wet-etch system, you'll need to send pcb's out to be made by a company.Many companies have a "quick prototyping" option, where you get your board back within the week, but sometimes without soldermask or silkscreen. Most hobbyists use this option to make small runs of boards.

Advanced Circuits

These guys have a bunch of different options for cheap boards. The fastest is , which will get your boards shipped next day, no solder mask, etc. for $35 and a sq. in. cost. This seems to be one of the cheaper method available online. I've used it a lot and have no complaints. Since it's square-inch priced you can panelize (put mulitple designs on one PCB and cut it with a saw your shear) Another method, if you're a student, is their $33 deal where you can get a board for $33 ($50 after shipping) with soldermask and top silkscreen. If you're not a student, theres a 3-part minimum, so its $100. Still, a good deal if you want soldermask. If you want to panelize this design they'll add $50. They'll rip you off on shipping, so be sure to calculate that into your total!


Online submission of files, Detailed tracking of the manufacturing process on the website, you can follow online and see what the lead time is.The quality is outstanding, tied for first place with iTead and slightly better than OSHpark. The copper etch resolution is much, much better than the advertised 6mil/6mil; they could easily handle 4mil/4mil with good yield.Their pricing is fantastic, better than anybody else for 4-layer boards in medium/large quantities.and I like its instant and transparent quotation online. And they are helding activity these days,as low as 8dollars for 10pieces,free universal boards,and just 6days later you will receive it.

Alberta Printed Circuits

I like their quick turn P1 service, I don't like their weird drill-size constraints. Apparently theres a quick way to deal with this in Eagle but I don't use them much anymore


A front-end for some PCB company in China. A friend recommended them but after making 500 PCBs there, I found their customer service to be frustrating and I was unhappy with the PCBs I purchased. I wouldn't use them again.

Gold Phoenix

This is the company Sparkfun uses for their cheap PCB service. You can get 1000 sq cm of PCBs for about $100. Yow! Check out Julian Bleekers very nice review. I order prototypes from them, but for production be sure to go with electrical testing as I've had a few flawed PCBs (vias that dont connect thru, etc)


I've never used these guys, they're in Bulgaria so things take a while to get to/from them if you don't live in Europe. They're dirt cheap, though. I've heard some good things about the quality.


Steve Conway recommends them after a PCB run. Made in China, but with reasonable service and shipping. Probably similar to Gold Phoenix in quality.


We held a grudge against these guys for a few years for using a photo of our PCBs in their ads but after nudging from from friends, we've tried them out for PCB manufacture. They're good when you want a lot of something made. We think the PCB quality is higher than Gold Phoenix but its still not as good as advanced circuits.

PCB 123/PCB Express

The software is lame, but the service is pretty good, apparently. I haven't had time to try it out though. Seems to be pretty much identical to Advanced Circuits in pricing and structure: Cheap (no silk/mask) next-day PCBs, a couple-day prototype service with green mask and white silkscreen, and then a more detailed 'production' service. You can check out their pricing here. "Batching" manufacturers These services will make nice PCBs in small quantities but they can take weeks - they basically collect a dozen orders and tile them into one PCB which is why there's adelay.


They have a 'prototypers' service, $10 + $2.50 per sq in. They use Gold Phoenix as their downstream provider, its probably good for most small projects but be aware that it may take 3 weeks to get your PCBs (they are low priority and made in China)


Laen sends out a bi-weekly PCB order. Boards are $5/sq. inch. for 3 copies. The quality is excellent, the boards are produced domestically, and shipping is covered in your board price. Boards take a max of 9 days turn around. Not cost-effective for producing small volume runs, but good for testing/experimenting with a design. All designs are purple mask with gold-plating SeeedStudio Fusion 10cm*10cm max -10pcs for $40



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