Author Topic: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap  (Read 4880 times)

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Offline janekm

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JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« on: September 26, 2018, 10:30:20 pm »
JLC have since last year (I think) been offering a prototype PCB assembly service. It's very interesting because they run it very differently from anyone else (that I'm aware of). So far this service is only offered within mainland China, though presumably they will offer it at some point through their International website as well. The price is starting at 50RMB for 10 boards assembled (in addition to the PCBM fee which is typically also 50RMB), or <$8.

- They can only place a limited set of components that they have defined. So far there are 6343 in their list (though perhaps 80% of those are "extended" parts which require an additional fee, presumably those are not already loaded on the P&P robots). They are doing a fairly good job of including popular parts such as CP2102 / CP2104, some basic logic chips, common LDOs, opamps, AVRs, STM32s ,STC.
- They offer their own component library for the parts they have defined (Altium, PADS are supported). Of course EasyEDA also has those components, though surprisingly so far the integration doesn't work as well as with the Altium component library.
- I get the sense that the service is highly automated. They have to have two tooling holes on each PCB (which apparently can be holes that are already in the design if they are indicated on the gerbers, I haven't worked this process out yet). I assume they are using solder paste dispensing robots rather than stencil as they don't require a stencil file and the un-mounted pads do not have solder on them.
- You can choose either 2 or 10 PCBs to be assembled.
- You have to buy all the components they place from them (makes sense), the price is not excessive (but more than the cheapest Shenzhen price). Not an issue for prototypes, of course. For reference, my all-in price for the 10 pieces I had assembled, which include two quite expensive components (MPU6050 and CP2104), was 466RMB, or $68. 300RMB out of that was those two expensive components.
- They have developed online tooling for doing the DFM check with preview pictures of placement and polarity of each component. Very nice. Their DFM check appears to be a bit overly fussy so far as it keeps complaining about pad angle from parts from their own component library (but placed no problem in the end).
- I ordered a set on the 22nd and have the boards in front of me today, the 26th. They don't offer a rush service but can't really complain about that anyway  ;D

I have to say I'm pretty impressed... It's a pretty innovative way of running a prototype PCB assembly service.

I am planning to make a little Youtube video on how the ordering process works as it's quite interesting. Let me know any suggestions for what to include. Might take a while though as I'm not a professional youtuber  :-DD

In theory it should be possible to order this service from overseas by using a "Taobao agent", though it may be easier to just wait for JLC to offer it internationally.

« Last Edit: September 26, 2018, 10:32:00 pm by janekm »
 
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Offline mrpackethead

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2018, 06:39:13 pm »
Have you got a link for the chinese internal service.
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Offline janekm

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2018, 09:13:35 pm »
Have you got a link for the chinese internal service.


It's part of their portal if you make an account on their Chinese site: https://www.sz-jlc.com/

The SMT service is described further here: https://www.sz-jlc.com/portal/newV2/smt.jsp
There's pictures of rows of P&P machines, one is labeled 5-FR(35-1) suggesting there may be quite a few of them, which would be the easiest (though not cheap to set up...) way to run this kind of service. That's my working hypothesis so far... that they have enough p&p machines to handle all the basic components and a few extra to support the extended component range.

The PCBA part of the service is super-fast, my PCBs left QC in the PCBM part of the factory at 15:51 on Tuesday, were p&p at 16:56, QCd at 00:56 on Wednesday, and in my hands by 19:00 on Wednesday. Not much time for any kind of manual processing.
I've got another board going through it right now, just entered the PCBA department at 18:34 this evening so I'll be impressed if they get that shipped tonight  :popcorn:

And the Altium libraries are here:  http://club.szlcsc.com/article/details_963_1.html (Needs an account on gitee which is a kind of Chinese github clone).

 

Offline janekm

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2018, 09:24:38 pm »
Also just found a publicly accessible component list: https://www.sz-jlc.com/home/smtComponentList.html

Also does mention that they have 32 p&p machines and don't change the feeders on the basic library components.

According to their website they have 689 basic components and 4000 extended, but the database already shows more than that.
 

Offline newbie666

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2018, 06:42:09 am »
Really interested in development of this thread. Having boards assembled for 8 bucks a pop sounds like a dream - even if I have to limit myself to the parts they have in stock.

Would you be able to reach out to their customer service (since you already have an account on chinese website) to ask if they will ever offer that service outside of China?

Do you have your boards shipped abroad or you're based in China as well?
 

Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2018, 09:22:29 am »
Really interested in development of this thread. Having boards assembled for 8 bucks a pop sounds like a dream - even if I have to limit myself to the parts they have in stock.

Would you be able to reach out to their customer service (since you already have an account on chinese website) to ask if they will ever offer that service outside of China?

Do you have your boards shipped abroad or you're based in China as well?
I'd also be interested in the quality of the parts used.
 

Online bitseeker

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2018, 02:22:11 pm »
Following to see how this develops for international ordering.
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Online blueskull

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2018, 03:43:29 am »
I'd also be interested in the quality of the parts used.

Presumably the same parts sold by LCSC.
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Offline janekm

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #8 on: October 04, 2018, 05:16:05 pm »
Sorry for the late response, I've been on holiday (following the local custom in China...).

Yes, the parts are the same ones as sold by LCSC who seem to have a good reputation for stocking original parts compared to other Chinese distributors. I haven't used them much myself so can't comment beyond what I heard from others.

I'll see whether I can get some information from their marketing department about International ordering. I don't imagine the regular customer support staff would know about those sorts of plans.

Yes I'm based in Shenzhen so I can just get the boards shipped to me directly with same/next day delivery  >:D

My second set of boards arrived, seems they still managed to send them out just before heading on holiday which is nice to see. Haven't got all the other components necessary to build it up yet though.
 

Online bd139

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #9 on: October 04, 2018, 05:32:48 pm »
I’ve just received a couple of orders from LCSC. All parts seem good. In fact I’ve been evaluating some of the smaller brand parts as well and they’re all good. No more expensive LDOs for me.

I’ve ordered a few boards from JLCPCB as well now. Genuinely I am impressed so far. Assembly is very interesting to me as I’m hand assembling prototypes at the moment so if they can put down the more difficult packages that opens a whole new world to me.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #10 on: October 04, 2018, 06:31:32 pm »
I've bought many hundreds of reels of passives from them,  lots of connectors, and some IC's..   They are not that good ( price wise ) at Microcontrollers and special purpose Chips.. However no issues with the parts that i have had from them.   Their web site however is just insane.
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Online bd139

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #11 on: October 04, 2018, 06:53:09 pm »
I think the MCU and some of the special purpose parts have a pretty tight supply chain when it comes to pricing.

I'm quite impressed with one thing. I get through a lot of 3.3V and 5V LDOs. Decided to try some non mainstream brand ones from "Guangdong Hottech" which is a Holtek 7550 clone. You simply can't get anything this low in the UK from major disties and at $0.05 a go low volume it makes a big dent in a BOM. Amazingly over the spread of 10 I tested SOA, transient response, shorts, overloads, drop-out, they are absolutely spot on.

Web site takes getting used to. It's very noisy.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #12 on: October 04, 2018, 07:31:26 pm »
Yes, really very difficult to use, when you compare to the likes of Digikey.
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Offline janekm

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2018, 05:27:56 pm »
Well, at least with the PCBA service you don't need to navigate the component distribution side, since it can pick the components from your BOM (if you use their parts library it includes their stock number to match it).
The interface looks like Windows 95 generation but it's quite functional, with some good features like being able to verify parts placement and orientation before final order.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2018, 05:14:12 pm »
Does their library just have the parts that are avaialble on teh PNP, or everything?
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Offline janekm

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2018, 12:22:26 am »
It's only got the parts that are available for no extra charge (presumably these are the ones that are always left on the p&p machines). The website also lists other parts that they can mount for an extra fee (if you use their part number the online tools should identify them, or you can do a search to match them).
 

Offline EngiBob

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2019, 07:16:20 am »
This is pretty great.  If they can partially assemble a board with all the passives and let me finish the ICs and exotic parts it would open a world of projects I can't afford to get fab'd and am not willing to make by hand.
 

Offline mrpackethead

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2019, 09:21:29 am »
This is pretty great.  If they can partially assemble a board with all the passives and let me finish the ICs and exotic parts it would open a world of projects I can't afford to get fab'd and am not willing to make by hand.

welcome to EEVBLog Bob.    There are of course tricky issues that make partial assembly a challenge.  For example If you want to use more complex parts that are SMT without a stencil it can be quite a challenge.
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Offline OwO

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2019, 06:35:49 pm »
Have all the passives on the bottom side and the chips on the top side of the board. That's what I've been doing for all my projects and I can build shit with this with 100s of parts with just minutes of manual labor.
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Offline RobBarter

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2019, 08:18:51 pm »
Just had a quick re-scan of the JCLPCB website and am I right that assembly is still only available in China (except via the agent route)?
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Offline mrpackethead

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2019, 08:35:30 pm »
Have all the passives on the bottom side and the chips on the top side of the board. That's what I've been doing for all my projects and I can build shit with this with 100s of parts with just minutes of manual labor.

An interesting idea, but quite restrictive on what you couild build.
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Offline EngiBob

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2019, 01:06:19 am »
Thanks.  I'm only really afraid of bga/lga but I've pulled off some for prototypes reflowing with hot air.   I can do LQFP 144s .5mm pitch in about 30 seconds, just healthily tin the pads and then lots of flux, align and drag.  QFNs are a little harder but the same method works and solder paste and a heat gun work surprisingly with a little trial and error on getting the correct amount of paste down.  I mostly do IoT style stuff with MCUs and usually a handful of various ICs.
 I've designed several projects where the large pin counts drive up production costs like crazy and the large amount of passives means I'm not profitable making it by hand due to the time involved.  A single LQFP 144 adds about $1.50-$3.00 per board in China and about $10/board in the US (about $.01-$.02/pin vs $.07/pin US)
« Last Edit: January 27, 2019, 01:10:32 am by EngiBob »
 

Offline Bauck

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2019, 02:59:41 am »
This is very interesting.
I sent them an email asking if they will provide this service internationally in the future and they replied with that the will provide it in the future soon. I don't know if "soon" is a couple of month or a year, and I don't think I will get a more detailed answer, but we will get this globally eventually :D

It would be interesting though to see a video about the process. Is it possible for someone that dont speak a word Chinese to be able to order? (using an agent ofc).

BTW: doesn't it say 0.01 yuan per joint which is more like 0.0015USD -> 0.21usd for a LQFP144?
 

Offline janekm

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Re: JLC PCB Prototype Assembly - Incredibly Cheap
« Reply #23 on: April 16, 2019, 12:24:31 am »
This is very interesting.
I sent them an email asking if they will provide this service internationally in the future and they replied with that the will provide it in the future soon. I don't know if "soon" is a couple of month or a year, and I don't think I will get a more detailed answer, but we will get this globally eventually :D

It would be interesting though to see a video about the process. Is it possible for someone that dont speak a word Chinese to be able to order? (using an agent ofc).

BTW: doesn't it say 0.01 yuan per joint which is more like 0.0015USD -> 0.21usd for a LQFP144?

Yes you're right 1 Fen (0.01RMB) per joint. Which is cheap for prototype assembly even in China.

I don't speak / read much Chinese and I managed to make it work. Takes a bit of clicking around the website to figure out the flow. Basically you order the PCBs first, ticking the box that assembly is desired. Then upload the PCBA files, go through the process of linking component names to the ones in their database (you can search for each component and pick from a pop-up window), confirm which components you want assembled, verify the rough picture of component placements, then wait for their staff to "audit" the order, then pay for PCBM & PCBA together. Finally they will produce a more detailed placement picture.
I found the flow a little easier uploading the Altium file directly rather than gerbers / P&P files as their agents filled in some of the needed info already (but I had to re-upload the BOM as they didn't match all the headers the way I intended).

It might be easier to make it work with a forwarding company rather than a regular taobao agent (as a normal agent just wouldn't know how to deal with that kind of order). You'll also need someone to top up an Alipay account so you can pay (again there's some companies offering that service from what I recall).

I tried convincing them to make a video of their facility but they were understandably keen to protect their competitive advantage (I do think they do a few clever things to assemble multiple orders together). They did say they were going to offer International orders some time this year.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 12:34:01 am by janekm »
 


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