There are many PCB manufacturers that offer good quality PCBs for low price. Anyway there may be lots of small things that may lead to few inconveniences if your choice isn’t the best. Of course the main source to check out is Internet. Customer feedback may be good starting point to evaluate PCB manufacturing process of chosen vendor. Other sources may be social media, colleague recommendations or other influences. Sometimes there is nothing wrong to give a try on any manufacturer with some small batch and evaluate PCB manufacturing process and build quality by yourself. There may be a different experience for different people and what is bad for one may be good for other.
Evaluating quality of delivered PCB
If you decided to try new PCB manufacturer, there are some key points that you may want to check when boards are received. Most of them are PCB quality checks. You may go through several points such as:
- Dimensions of board – are they right as specified
- The holes – are dimensions correct and accurately positioned and centered
- Cutting quality – inspect the edges of boards are they properly cut
- Silk screen – are they readable and small parts visible
- Solder mask – is it accurate and well positioned
- Are connectivity tested – most manufacturers do.
These are small and basic things that may influence the choice of PCB manufacturer. The PCB quality is the key of successful build of electronic device.
Design your PCB while keeping an eye to manufacturer requirements
Before you build new PCB board it is good practice to check the requirements of selected manufacturer. They normally specify the minimum and maximum sizes of PCB parts such as holes, traces, dimensions, clearings and so on. If they specify the smallest possible sizes, it doesn’t mean that you should try to squeeze to smallest. With small dimensions there is always a risk of increased failures. Use common sense which comes with practice.
The other factors of choosing right PCB manufacturer
The manufacturing cost. It may be important factor in some cases, but competing PCB manufacturers keep prices close to each other. The other factors may be more important such as timescale – the time it takes to manufacture a PCB. If you need boards fast, then it is an important factor. Of course then follows the delivery which can be sometimes frustrating. Be sure to check possible delivery options and prices. The other factors may be some bonuses such as the number of boards included when ordering one, discounts, coupons and other.
In general you should look for PCB manufacturer that fits your needs. If not, then try matching manufacturer capabilities to your needs. Selecting right manufacturer is important step towards successful electronic equipment assembly and production. Time spent on selecting PCB manufacturer is well spend and can be major factor in long term. If you are planning large batch of PCBs it is worth even to visit the company and see the whole process how quality boards are made.