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PCB design/fabrication quote - online or offline?

  1. May 26, 2012 #1
    For those who have tried getting online quotes from PCB vendors (i.e. for design or fabrication),
    may I know your feedback from doing this?

    I personally have not tried sending a request for quote on the PCB vendor's website but I am interested though quite hesistant in this process. I usually send a request for quotation directly to the vendor thru email. I'm just curious on getting quotes online.

    What are the pro's and con's of this process?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 26, 2012 #2


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    Do some googling. There are board houses out there that do low quantity. I have used Advanced Circuits. They would be a good choice for a startup company. Their web-site is www.4pcb.com.
  4. May 26, 2012 #3
    Do you, or anyone else, have any experience with their free layout software PCB Artist?
  5. May 26, 2012 #4
    Good thread here. I am contacting pcb house in Hong Kong for pricing. I got a quote of 4 layers, minimum run of about $200. But this is very approx as I did not sent the Gerber file, just asking for minimum of one panel FR4.
  6. Jun 7, 2012 #5
    It seems like your question is a bit contradicting when you say that you haven't not tried sending a quote request to a PCB vendor and then the next sentence, you say that you usually send a request directly to the vendor.. :confused:

    Anyways, there are a few things that I always consider before sending my Gerber files to any company. Make sure that the company isn't a broker and is an actual PCB house. I have found that I can get the best price when I am dealing directly with the manufacturer (no matter what the PCB Broker tries to tell me).

    The second thing I consider is if I should have them sign a NDA or Non-compete clause. On this rare occasion, the PCB company shouldn't have any problem with this.

    The last thing I consider is if the company has knowledgable sales reps that can answer my questions without sounding like an idiot. I understand that it is tough to find companies like this, but lately, I have been using a company called Custom Circuit Boards. They have been great so far, but I know that sh*t happens and things could always go south :approve:. (hopefully, it doesn't though)

    There are some companies out there that provide automatic quoting forms on their site, but I haven't been a fan because I don't like how they can't quote complex boards accurately. In my opinion, they are a big waste of time for the majority of my PCBs. It really pisses me off when I use those forms and it says one price, but then I get a call from the sales rep saying that it has to be a higher price because of X, X, and X. :mad:

    I usually stick to USA manufacturing companies (like the one I mentioned above) because the lead times I need are impossible for China.

    I would suggest contacting a PCB Manufacturer and seeing what their capabilities and go from there. Build a relationship so you have someone that you can rely on in the future. Don't just go for the cheapest price out there (especially for more complex boards) because we all know that you do what you pay for. :wink:
  7. Jun 8, 2012 #6
    Nowadays, PCB companies have their websites equipped with instant quote tools. And trying these tools is a hassle as you have to input more and more data. Even after providing data to these tools, its quotes and sometimes the official quotes have a lot of discrepancies.
  8. Jun 8, 2012 #7
    In my experience if a PCB fab house doesn't have instant quoting on their website then its not worth the time for getting a quote. I've tried half a dozen or so PCB fab houses before and now I will only use two, Sunstone and Itead Studio.

    If I'm getting boards made for research projects at uni or for work then I go with Sunstone. If its personal or hobby stuff I go with Itead Studio. Sunstone is very professional, quick turn around, and very reliable. Itead just provides hobby quality boards, has a 1 month turn around, but they are CHEAP (like $25 for ten 10x10cm boards).

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