Author Topic: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board  (Read 686 times)

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Offline scopeman

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PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« on: April 28, 2020, 03:49:50 pm »
Hello,

Does anyone know of an inexpensive PCB boardhouse that will allow you to put more than one design on a board? The board layout would be such that the maximum amount of area is used. I am thinking about doing this for multiple designs of essentially the same board then when I get the panel I would then route the boards out on my LPKF pcb router saving a bunch of money over individual boards. I could do the layout and omit the boarders so it would look like one board if  that would make it easier. All of the layouts would reference one datum point.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Sam
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Offline rea5245

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2020, 03:55:15 pm »
They all allow it. It's just that some of them add a surcharge. It might even be cheaper to order two different boards than to order one bigger board with two designs.

PCBShopper.com's price comparison list can tell you which manufacturers charge extra for multiple designs. (Disclosure: I run PCBShopper.)

- Bob Alexander
 
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Online wraper

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2020, 04:10:05 pm »
They all allow it. It's just that some of them add a surcharge.
I haven't seen any PCB house which would surcharge if different designs are not separated by routing/scoring.
I am thinking about doing this for multiple designs of essentially the same board then when I get the panel I would then route the boards out on my LPKF pcb router saving a bunch of money over individual boards.
That's pretty wild claim about saving bunch of money. You may save something if you order bunch of different tiny boards on panel smaller than 10x10 cm but otherwise no.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2020, 04:19:58 pm by wraper »
 

Offline rea5245

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2020, 04:14:13 pm »
I haven't seen any PCB house which would surcharge if different designs are not separated by routing/scoring.

Oh, they do! And it pisses people off because they see no logical reason for it.

- Bob
 

Online wraper

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2020, 04:28:24 pm »
I haven't seen any PCB house which would surcharge if different designs are not separated by routing/scoring.

Oh, they do! And it pisses people off because they see no logical reason for it.

- Bob
Can you mention a few? Really strange since just as well it could be a single design with blocks electrically separated.
 

Offline rea5245

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2020, 05:14:39 pm »
Can you mention a few? Really strange since just as well it could be a single design with blocks electrically separated.

JLCPCB: "Some customers would like to merge more than 1 PCB in the same Gerber. We know you want to save money but this may make it hard to cut the board outline and more importantly, this will take a lot more time to pick up and package the PCB. Although by doing this, you just have the one order, this complicates the fabrication of the panel and separation of the individual PCBs, so we will usually charge more for this. Similarly, using holes or slots as break off sections between boards are treated the same way as putting more than one design on a panel, each with its' own board outline."

PCBWay: I asked them in an e-mail "If someone submits a Gerber to you that has multiple designs in it, and he doesn't want you to cut the designs apart - he'll cut them himself - how do you calculate how much extra to charge him?" and they answered "And for the multi-pcbs, we will add extra fee for any one more kinds of pcbs."

Bittele: "If two designs are not connected by any copper layer, thus require separate electrical NETLIST Testing, not connected by a component, and are not exact copies of each other then they are considered to be unique designs."

Also ALLPCB, U&I (quickturnpcb.co.kr), Bay Area Circuits, and Advanced Circuits.

A few manufacturers that don't charge extra: Elecrow, Seeed, ShenZhen2U, Smart Prototyping, Dirty PCBs, ITEAD, Lion Circuits, AISLER, Eurocircuits, PCBJOINT, OSH Park, and others.

- Bob


 

Online wraper

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2020, 05:38:19 pm »
JLCPCB: "Some customers would like to merge more than 1 PCB in the same Gerber. We know you want to save money but this may make it hard to cut the board outline and more importantly, this will take a lot more time to pick up and package the PCB. Although by doing this, you just have the one order, this complicates the fabrication of the panel and separation of the individual PCBs, so we will usually charge more for this. Similarly, using holes or slots as break off sections between boards are treated the same way as putting more than one design on a panel, each with its' own board outline."
I read it that if you place single outline, it should count as single PCB. If you put multiple PCBs onto single Gerber and do not add outline, IMHO it's lame.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2020, 05:41:34 pm »
Boards are so absurdly cheap these days, how will you save any money by combining multiple layouts and then taking the time to trim them apart yourself?

The low cost board shops already do this in house. They combine a bunch of designs onto one panel, it's how they get the cost down, and it's the reason they don't like it when you try to game the system to save a few bucks.
 
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Offline thm_w

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2020, 08:55:02 pm »
The only PCB vendor I am aware of that explicitly allows multiple designs, with your own cutouts, and no fee, is DirtyPCBs: https://dirtypcbs.com/store/pcbs/about
This way you can snap them apart and not screw around with routing them out manually.

Boards are so absurdly cheap these days, how will you save any money by combining multiple layouts and then taking the time to trim them apart yourself?

The low cost board shops already do this in house. They combine a bunch of designs onto one panel, it's how they get the cost down, and it's the reason they don't like it when you try to game the system to save a few bucks.

Yeah, cost of router bits, and your time, and possible health implications (if you don't have a proper HEPA evac system), is never going to be worth it.
I mean, OP has enough money for a LPKF machine, its not like they are hard up for cash.
 
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Offline E-Design

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2020, 09:38:55 pm »
I haven't seen any PCB house which would surcharge if different designs are not separated by routing/scoring.

Oh, they do! And it pisses people off because they see no logical reason for it.

- Bob



Can you mention a few? Really strange since just as well it could be a single design with blocks electrically separated.

Advanced Circuits does in the USA.

The board house has no way to know if your design is really part of the same system or not, so they want to charge you if they see it.
You can always run a dummy trace or bridge the 2 designs with a dummy component so that it appears as one design.

I can vouche that places like PCBWay dont add much to the cost for multiple designs.
The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
 

Offline E-Design

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2020, 09:51:36 pm »
Boards are so absurdly cheap these days, how will you save any money by combining multiple layouts and then taking the time to trim them apart yourself?

The low cost board shops already do this in house. They combine a bunch of designs onto one panel, it's how they get the cost down, and it's the reason they don't like it when you try to game the system to save a few bucks.

Yes boards are crazy cheap. However, if you do multiple individual designs, can one guarantee that the job is run at the same time and ship together? If they get packed and shipped separately, that cost advantage could easily be lost.

Also, I would agree if cutting them apart is hassle then it may not be worth it. Yet sometimes the board is square and simple -- and honestly for proto's I can cut them with a paper shear.. so its a 10 second job. hardly a hassle.

I can see the benefit both ways actually. One time on a PCBWay order, I had 6 different designs and I quoted it both ways. It was silly how negligible the cost difference was so I chose for them to make them individually to make slightly less work for me.

Another factor could be that it is easier to reflow connected boards one time rather than run reflow twice on individual boards. Sometimes I prefer to get them all flowed at once then break them apart. Its an interesting topic. I would like to hear from a board house the official reason that they can justify even a tiny increase in cost for multiple designs though.



« Last Edit: April 28, 2020, 09:56:15 pm by E-Design »
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Offline T3sl4co1l

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #11 on: April 28, 2020, 10:54:16 pm »
I mean, OP has enough money for a LPKF machine, its not like they are hard up for cash.

Even assuming OP's labor is discounted to zero, how many protos do you have to order before the surcharge (typically what, a few bucks?) justifies using an LPKF on them?  How many decades is that amortization schedule, how many boards do you need to process to even beat the depreciation writeoff? :-DD :-DD

Tim
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Bringing a project to life?  Send me a message!
 
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Offline c64

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2020, 02:25:57 am »
Anyone successfully defeated this surcharge from JLCPCB? I want to order 4-layer 10cm*10cm board from them with 4 different designs. I want to separate them by routing. Is it enough to have just one dummy trace between designs? Or maybe just common ground plane and nothing else?
 

Online blueskull

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2020, 02:50:43 am »
Anyone successfully defeated this surcharge from JLCPCB? I want to order 4-layer 10cm*10cm board from them with 4 different designs. I want to separate them by routing. Is it enough to have just one dummy trace between designs? Or maybe just common ground plane and nothing else?

JLC recently has started their 30 Yuan per 4L design, <=5cm*5cm (20 Yuan surcharge for <=10cm*10cm) SnPb HASL, 0.1mm/0.1mm trace, green mask, 0.25mm/0.45mm via process.

I really can't ask for more.

BTW, if you are after small boards with  multiple designs, go for OSHPark.
 
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Offline c64

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2020, 03:04:12 am »
I need assembly as well. The price for 5pcs 10cm*10cm 4 layer is $7 USD, assembly setup fee is another $7 (can be $0 with coupon, if I understand correctly). So, it's $7 total.
However, surcharge for "different design" is $43.
If I make 4 separate boards, I pay $28 for boards, and $14 for setup fee (they give two coupons every month), total $42.

I can find similar price (5pcs 10cm*10cm 4 layer = $7) on taobao but no one else has reasonable assembly prices.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #15 on: May 23, 2020, 03:30:54 am »
Anyone successfully defeated this surcharge from JLCPCB? I want to order 4-layer 10cm*10cm board from them with 4 different designs. I want to separate them by routing. Is it enough to have just one dummy trace between designs? Or maybe just common ground plane and nothing else?

Keep in mind that you're asking on a public forum for advice on how to cheat a company to get more than you paid for at their already absurdly cheap prices...
 

Offline c64

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #16 on: May 23, 2020, 03:57:42 am »
Yeah I forgot to mention, if any of you think paying extra $40 for few slots is reasonable or "absurdly cheap", or JLCPCB is offering us their services at a loss, please keep your thoughts to yourself. :)
 

Offline TareqBUQ

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2020, 02:52:02 pm »
JLCPCB will charge you an extra $4 if you have more than one design, regardless of if you need routing or scoring or not.
The way they define it is by having blocks in your design that are not connected to each other.
It's really not worth it to look for other suppliers that do not charge for mutliple designs, you won't find any cheaper supplier than JLC even with the $4 surcharge.
If you really insist on cheating them, just add a trace between the designs that goes nowhere, and pass the trace in the breaking tabs (I assume you are using tabs to seperate the designs, if you are using V-scoring then any manufacturer would add a panelizing/scoring surcharge).
 

Offline james_s

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2020, 07:30:53 pm »
Having paid something like $75 for three small boards with no solder mask or silkscreen not even 15 years ago yes even $40 sounds absurdly cheap to me. Most of the boards I've had JLC make were under $10 shipped for 5 boards and these are quality double sided with plated through holes. My time is worth far more to me than any extra fees, they charge per design, they panelize the designs themselves for production, they're ridiculously cheap any way you slice it so I have a difficult time understanding someone being *so* cheap as to try to game the system to save a few bucks. If yo don't like the way they charge for their services you are free to shop elsewhere but I don't think anyone else will be any cheaper.
 

Offline Gerhard_dk4xp

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2020, 10:07:02 pm »
I just have made a design consisting mostly from SMA connectors and one of
{ 0201, 0402, 0603, 0805, 1206, 1210, sot-23, sc-70, whatever} for measuring
parts on the vector network analyzer. If someone really thinks this is a dozen
designs, and the exact wording suggests that, then they can shove their shill offer
somewhere, yes.

For me, it's 100 square cm of pretty harmless FR4, with unpredictable eps-r
and next to no drill holes. And the structures on these 100 square cm are mine,
and nobody else's.

And yes, I was used to pay thousands just for multilayer  photo plots, when the next
print shop now makes me an offset film in ISO-A4-oversize for €5 that is in no
way inferior. Just deliver a quality pdf on a USB stick. They probably did that also 20
years ago, probably in PostScript. Nobody would have paid a grand for a printed flyer.

Gerhard

ps  re quality pdf printouts: In Altium designer, I must go via Gerber out and generate
them from Camtastic. The Altium pdf print generates round and oval pads that are
much smaller than they should be.

« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 10:15:55 pm by Gerhard_dk4xp »
 

Offline KL27x

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2020, 10:11:14 pm »
You don't save money by putting multiple boards on a panel. The tiny bit of area you save isn't where the cost comes. That's pennies for the area. It's more expensive, because it makes it more complicated to inspect and test the boards, and X-outs mean you waste time or components in the placing. And in most cases, that will also mean more unique feeders to run out and need refilling, bringing that finely tuned machine to a halt.  Anything in mass production, you will pay more to put multiple boards on the same panel. It might be ok for some kits or something; easy to sell/ship and fun to snap apart.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 10:15:25 pm by KL27x »
 

Offline c64

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #21 on: May 24, 2020, 01:28:22 am »
JLCPCB will charge you an extra $4 if you have more than one design, regardless of if you need routing or scoring or not.
This is for 2-layers. And it is $4 per each extra design. In my case (4 designs, 4-layers) surcharge is $43

 

Offline c64

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #22 on: May 24, 2020, 01:49:44 am »
If you really insist on cheating them, just add a trace between the designs that goes nowhere, and pass the trace in the breaking tabs (I assume you are using tabs to seperate the designs, if you are using V-scoring then any manufacturer would add a panelizing/scoring surcharge).
Are you just guessing or is it from the personal experience?
I was thinking about doing it like on the attached picture (this is the outline of the board and slots)
 

Offline TareqBUQ

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #23 on: May 24, 2020, 02:04:26 am »
If you really insist on cheating them, just add a trace between the designs that goes nowhere, and pass the trace in the breaking tabs (I assume you are using tabs to seperate the designs, if you are using V-scoring then any manufacturer would add a panelizing/scoring surcharge).
Are you just guessing or is it from the personal experience?
I was thinking about doing it like on the attached picture (this is the outline of the board and slots)
I have checked PCBWAY and in your case they would charge an extra $70 (4 layers - 4 designs).
Pretty much JLCPCB is the cheapest manufactrurer that you will find anywhere.
It is from personal experience, the PCB's are actually on the way to me, they will be delivered this week.
I have had them manufacture a modular PCB for me, where the PCB had 7 modules connected to the main PCB with small 5mm tabs, that would be broken off individually for testing of the different parts, but the different modules were connected together through traces, and they didn't charge me a "different designs" surcharge, they charged me an extra $3.5 for the extra routing though, I will send you a picture in a message.
 
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Offline c64

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Re: PCB Boardhouse that will allow multiple designs on one board
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2020, 03:51:19 am »
Great thanks, I will do the same.

I usually order from other Chinese manufacturers, who don't have English website. Their every day prices are the same or a bit cheaper than "specials" from JLCPCB. I was never charged for "multiple designs".

However, this time I need assembly and see no alternative to JLCPCB
 


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