Author Topic: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........  (Read 53249 times)

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Online SmokeyTopic starter

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USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« on: April 05, 2022, 06:13:07 am »
What's the closest you can get to PCBWay or JLCPCB from a USA based company?

I've used advanced circuits a ton and they do great work but they aren't cheap, especially for smaller boards or specs that don't fit their 33/66 specials for prototypes.

Given global issues I'm just looking at my options.  It sure seems like there is a market here if there aren't any great providers already.

(If my forum search skills just suck tonight, please point me to this conversation that already exists.)
 

Offline Berni

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2022, 06:23:42 am »
No chance given that JLC makes 5 boards for $2

I am taking a guess that the $2 boards are actually a loss leader for them, getting costumers addicted to them so that they can charge you tons extra once you need anything more specialized (Like bigger board, smaller vias, smaller traces, more layers etc..)
 

Online SiliconWizard

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2022, 05:57:13 pm »
There is always a market for cheaper stuff. The problem is being able to address it.
I don't see how any rich western country could compete with China when it comes to prices.

For "cheap" prototypes, I've occasionally used OSH Park. But it's not as cheap, they have limited options, and it's not quite made for large volume production.
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2022, 08:56:21 pm »
OSH Park is the only one that will come close, and that is only if your boards are very small.
https://oshpark.com/#services

Given global issues I'm just looking at my options.  It sure seems like there is a market here if there aren't any great providers already.

You think there is a market in NA for providing a labor intense custom made product for $2?
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Online SmokeyTopic starter

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2022, 09:11:01 pm »
It would be amazing if there was a USA factory that made $2 boards, but that's not going to happen.  But someone has to be making money, so the $2 board deals must be turning into real profitable orders at some point.  Loss leaders work.  Costco runs the food court and rotisserie chicken at a loss because they know you will buy enough other stuff to make up for it and it works really well.

I just wish there was a middle ground between $2 boards and $300 boards.  I would love to pay $20-$50 for something small batch, good quality, that didn't have to go overseas.

 

Offline ve7xen

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2022, 09:28:32 pm »
It would be amazing if there was a USA factory that made $2 boards, but that's not going to happen.  But someone has to be making money, so the $2 board deals must be turning into real profitable orders at some point.  Loss leaders work.  Costco runs the food court and rotisserie chicken at a loss because they know you will buy enough other stuff to make up for it and it works really well.

I just wish there was a middle ground between $2 boards and $300 boards.  I would love to pay $20-$50 for something small batch, good quality, that didn't have to go overseas.

It's not 'the USA' but Aisler is kind of in this niche, with relatively inexpensive (~25EUR for 3 boards) proto boards made in Germany to fairly high standards.
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Offline Rat_Patrol

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2022, 10:18:09 pm »
I use quickturnpcb in South Korea frequently. Not US, but very close to China prices and a world away from US prices.
 

Offline DIYGUY Chris

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2022, 11:50:57 pm »
OSHPark for small size PCBs and small production volume for only one soldermask color (purple), and yet their prices are higher than the Chinese manufacturers offers, JLC is killing the game out there with their popular $2 offer, some other Chinese manufacturers already started to follow the same path..
 

Offline Berni

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2022, 05:14:59 am »
By the way we still use PCBWay for some things here.

They have a $5 for 5 boards special so not quite as cheep for that, but they have some better capabilities for the more high tech boards and generally have better quality and support. So we use them for fine detail or high layrcount boards, they also do flex PCBs, aluminium core, thick copper etc...

Personally i am pretty happy with them. The non dirt cheep shipping gets the boards here in about 1 week. So don't think there is much room for improvement versus a local shop, maybe they might get you a board in 3 days. If you wanted it faster you probably need to pay 3x the price for a 24h rush order.
 

Offline TomS_

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2022, 09:12:53 am »
I use quickturnpcb in South Korea frequently. Not US, but very close to China prices and a world away from US prices.
Not sure what PCBs you are ordering from them, but my quote for PCBs is a world away from China prices.
 

Online SmokeyTopic starter

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2022, 10:00:03 am »
I just did a quick quote at http://quickturnpcb.co.kr/ and they look to be pretty comparable in price to the advanced spec pcbway boards. 
 

Online Mangozac

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2022, 10:43:49 pm »
I use quickturnpcb in South Korea frequently. Not US, but very close to China prices and a world away from US prices.
Not sure what PCBs you are ordering from them, but my quote for PCBs is a world away from China prices.
Their pricing is very inconsistent and after some technical discussion with them it seems to largely come down to how well your design panelises into their standard panel size. On one design they were about 25% more expensive than JLC and on another they were almost double!
 
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Offline DIYGUY Chris

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2022, 12:19:06 am »
Main topic question is "USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China?" not about "who is PCBWay"  :palm:
 
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Offline rea5245

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2022, 12:03:43 pm »
You can check this price comparison site for some manufacturers to see what might be the pricing and details of some possible manufacturers but obviously they may not include many vendors, and the price details might be incorrect and need confirmation:
https://pcbshopper.com/

I run PCBShopper.

PCBShopper gets its prices by HTML-scraping manufacturers' sites. So the prices should be accurate ... unless I have a bug in my code. And yes, that happens sometimes. Please, if you ever find a discrepancy between PCBShopper and the manufacturer's price, let me know. I'm usually able to fix it within 24 hours.

I don't charge manufacturers to be included on the price comparison list. But they need to have a web site I can retrieve prices from. Some manufacturers are willing to work with me on that, and some aren't. I would love to add more American and European companies to my price comparison list (as well as other under-represented locations).

- Bob Alexander
« Last Edit: April 11, 2022, 12:28:56 pm by rea5245 »
 
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Offline kylehunter

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #14 on: April 11, 2022, 02:43:24 pm »
I just did a quick quote at http://quickturnpcb.co.kr/ and they look to be pretty comparable in price to the advanced spec pcbway boards.

Absolutely love them. They have the best quality of any boards we've tried. When bidding for assembly jobs, I always use a rule of thumb like this: China is cheapest, U&I (quickturnpcb) is 2x-3x China price, USA is 5x China price. If the client wants top quality, and is fine with ordering overseas then we use U&I. Only time we use USA is if they need to for marketing reasons, or a really fast turn time. U&I really has amazing quality, especially their silkscreen (lol). If they want the cheapest, then we use PCBWay. Never had any real issues with them, but definitely nowhere close to as nice as U&I.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2022, 02:45:20 pm by kylehunter »
 
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Offline rea5245

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2022, 02:52:47 pm »
U&I really has amazing quality, especially their silkscreen (lol).

You're lol-ing about their silkscreen? What's so special about their silkscreen?
 

Offline MR

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #16 on: April 11, 2022, 05:14:44 pm »
There was a report about a fully automatised PCB factory in the states, does anyone know more about it?

https://resources.altium.com/p/esmart-factory-comes-pcb-fabrication
 

Offline laseralex

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2022, 08:18:07 am »
There was a report about a fully automatised PCB factory in the states, does anyone know more about it?

https://resources.altium.com/p/esmart-factory-comes-pcb-fabrication

It is owned by Whelen Engineering and used to build boards for their own products.  No help for the rest of us. :(
 

Offline radiostuff

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2022, 04:58:28 pm »
If super-cheap is not a requirement, which American PCB-manufacturers are recommended?
 

Offline eugene

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2022, 02:12:31 pm »
PCB manufacture the traditional way is very labor intensive. I have assumed that places like JLCPCB are very highly automated. Very little engineering seems to be performed before production. It's my impression that in the US when you request a quote a human inspects the Gerbers to estimate a price. When the Gerbers are prepared for production even more human labor is required. This is when US fab houses will come back with questions, either to clarify my intent or to highlight what they believe to be problems.

OTOH, JLCPCB creates quotes by computer. And, though I have zero first hand knowledge, my impression is that there is a minimum of human involvement in preparation for fabrication. In my mind I imagine relevant layers being identified automatically. Superfluous features outside the PCB area (title blocks, etc) are stripped away automatically without ever being read at by a human. Panelizing is done automatically. Possibly a technician inspects the result quickly before the job is queued up on one production line or another. The biggest labor is in final inspection, cleanup, and packaging.

Even if my mental image of what goes on in those factories is completely wrong, that sort of thing could be done in the US and elsewhere, if it hasn't already. That's the only way prices could come down significantly. The downside is that your Gerbers don't get inspected very well, but I could live with that in exchange for a drastic reduction in cost and turn around time. (Actually, besides price, one of the things that has turned me off of domestic sourcing of prototypes is long turn around time, much of which is consumed by inspection and questions. I kinda wish they'd just fab the damn things and send them back ASAP.)

Having gotten all of that off of my chest, what North American fab houses can be recommended for prototypes?
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Offline SpacedCowboy

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #20 on: April 24, 2022, 03:04:29 pm »
I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I use nextpcb.com for most of my stuff, it’s not as cheap as JLCPCB, but they can handle 0201 parts, do double-sided assembly, and have no problems with you specifying parts from global distributors. JLCPCB has introduced global sourcing, but they rejected my trial PCB recently because they don’t yet do 0201, and I don’t *think* they do double-sided assembly.

Nextpcb have sent me questions on several boards, ranging from the simple “this part is out of stock, can we substitute this one instead” through to things like “can you change the location of these vias” or “it looks like you wanted this trace to be 90R differential, but the stack-up is wrong for that”.

Also, instant-quote is very much a thing for US companies, there are several I’ve tried (in fact it’s vanishingly rare that I use a US company that *doesn’t* offer instant-quote). Turnaround time is where US companies shine, but I expect to pay 3x on PCB fabrication, and more than that for assembly, so it’s very much a “do I really need this *yesterday*” kind of thing…
 

Offline eugene

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2022, 07:12:01 pm »
That makes sense if you're talking about assembled PCB's (populated with components.) For prototypes I pretty much only buy bare boards and populate them myself. I have  not tried any Chinese manufacturers for assembly.
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Online SmokeyTopic starter

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2022, 07:56:27 am »
PCB manufacture the traditional way is very labor intensive. I have assumed that places like JLCPCB are very highly automated. Very little engineering seems to be performed before production. It's my impression that in the US when you request a quote a human inspects the Gerbers to estimate a price. When the Gerbers are prepared for production even more human labor is required. This is when US fab houses will come back with questions, either to clarify my intent or to highlight what they believe to be problems.

OTOH, JLCPCB creates quotes by computer. And, though I have zero first hand knowledge, my impression is that there is a minimum of human involvement in preparation for fabrication. In my mind I imagine relevant layers being identified automatically. Superfluous features outside the PCB area (title blocks, etc) are stripped away automatically without ever being read at by a human. Panelizing is done automatically. Possibly a technician inspects the result quickly before the job is queued up on one production line or another. The biggest labor is in final inspection, cleanup, and packaging.

Even if my mental image of what goes on in those factories is completely wrong, that sort of thing could be done in the US and elsewhere, if it hasn't already. That's the only way prices could come down significantly. The downside is that your Gerbers don't get inspected very well, but I could live with that in exchange for a drastic reduction in cost and turn around time. (Actually, besides price, one of the things that has turned me off of domestic sourcing of prototypes is long turn around time, much of which is consumed by inspection and questions. I kinda wish they'd just fab the damn things and send them back ASAP.)

Having gotten all of that off of my chest, what North American fab houses can be recommended for prototypes?

I just had a 4/4 rules 4layer board made with PCBWay's "advanced spec".  They came back with multiple rounds of engineering questions to clarify things.  The level of interaction was very good.  I just got the boards and they look fine.  No complaints.  They even expedited the order since it took a few days to sort out all the engineering questions.  Apart from DHL taking longer than expected it was fine.

But.... Stuff like paying for 2day DHL and it taking 6 days because of china covid lockdowns is exactly why I started this thread to see if there was an alternative that has fewer overseas source type issues.
 

Online nimish

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2022, 11:43:00 pm »
There was a report about a fully automatised PCB factory in the states, does anyone know more about it?

https://resources.altium.com/p/esmart-factory-comes-pcb-fabrication

It is owned by Whelen Engineering and used to build boards for their own products.  No help for the rest of us. :(

https://greensourcefab.com is their spinoff of it.
 

Offline Bassman59

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #24 on: April 30, 2022, 11:23:52 pm »
OSHPark for small size PCBs and small production volume for only one soldermask color (purple), and yet their prices are higher than the Chinese manufacturers offers, JLC is killing the game out there with their popular $2 offer, some other Chinese manufacturers already started to follow the same path..

The $2 board is for toys and trinkets. If you need real boards, say four layers and much larger, then you're back into a lot more money.
 

Offline ThermallyFrigid

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #25 on: June 02, 2022, 11:57:42 am »
JCLPCB makes more money on shipping than on the boards in the "small board" market.

If you order two different boards at the same time from JCLPCB you will see they still nearly double the shipping cost.  Shipping is their profit maker.

Having managed a fulfillment center this is something I know.
Fulfilment centers and large scale shipping houses make their money off of the difference between the "Retail" shipping cost and what their Volume discount costs for shipping the same item is.

There is a significant difference in what you pay for shipping retail vs what a mass shipper pays.  VERY significant.  Or at least there was when I managed a fulfillment center.
« Last Edit: June 02, 2022, 12:00:14 pm by ThermallyFrigid »
 

Offline thm_w

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #26 on: June 02, 2022, 10:22:49 pm »
JCLPCB makes more money on shipping than on the boards in the "small board" market.

If you order two different boards at the same time from JCLPCB you will see they still nearly double the shipping cost.  Shipping is their profit maker.

Having managed a fulfillment center this is something I know.
Fulfilment centers and large scale shipping houses make their money off of the difference between the "Retail" shipping cost and what their Volume discount costs for shipping the same item is.

There is a significant difference in what you pay for shipping retail vs what a mass shipper pays.  VERY significant.  Or at least there was when I managed a fulfillment center.

Try again, maybe your boards are very large, I just added a second board and the shipping cost did not change at all. $18.
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Offline toybuilder

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #27 on: February 11, 2024, 07:06:39 am »
U&I does LPI as well as screened overlay.  They used to only do LPI, but I once received a screened board and was told that I need to specify LPI to ensure LPI.

You can see how much nicer LPI looks here: https://imgur.com/gallery/ey8gm

 
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Offline S. Petrukhin

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #28 on: February 11, 2024, 12:51:28 pm »
JCLPCB makes more money on shipping than on the boards in the "small board" market.

JCPBC produce a huge number of orders for the local market and mass production.
There are always unoccupied places on the standard panel to attach a small order to this locomotive.  :)
And sorry for my English.
 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #29 on: February 15, 2024, 11:40:49 pm »
I tried a few 6 layer boards on https://quickturnpcb.co.kr/

and they were 8 to 10 x the price of JLCPCB....
 

Offline Kean

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #30 on: February 16, 2024, 01:02:14 am »
I tried a few 6 layer boards on https://quickturnpcb.co.kr/

and they were 8 to 10 x the price of JLCPCB....

I think it would be difficult for almost any company to match JLCPCB pricing, but 8x-10x seems high.  Probably justified by using "quick turn" in their name even though they are likely no faster...

Out of interest have you chatted with Alfatron about their Aussie PCB fabrication?  I think so far they only offer 2 or 4 layer in small volume, but have plans for 6 layer.
 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #31 on: February 16, 2024, 03:03:11 am »
Hi
Have not had any contact with them (Alfatron), however I find most shops dont want to do layer stackups that I need. nor the geometry.......JLC have a varety of layer stackups  that have no penalty to choose.
if the difference was 25% , I'd go that way, but also the local manufcaturers have got nothing on fine geometry

I talk with Lintek etc, something that is very standard at JLC is high tech for Lintek.  The Asians are good at making high quality, fine geometry PCBs, and they work on small margins and so they very easily lose their shirt if they have board faults.

It's a bit different to say, buying a spanner made in china,  dimesions are not quite right, metal a bit soft etc
But with PCBs- there is nowhere to hide ! a short is a short ! an open is an open- and a fail and requires supplying a new set to the customer.

I need a board house that does 4/4 and 0.2 drill all day, every day.  and so finds my 5/5 0.25 drill boards  a walk in the park.
 
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Offline IconicPCB

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #32 on: February 16, 2024, 05:41:29 am »
Hello Glen,

Have you checked out the mob out Queanbeyan way...

We had disestablished our chemical processes over this Xmas break.
No call for the service.
Used to do up 8 layer prototyping work in years past.
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Offline glenenglish

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #33 on: February 16, 2024, 05:45:10 am »
Hi !
yeah the queanbeyan mob dont do anything very challenging very often I suspect. they're probably good with RF substrates, but not 8-12 layer fine stuff.,  RF stuff is their game, super smooth plating etc  for high GHZ

They are not competitive in any way, - they only do gov defence work, so they do not need to be.

Multilayer PCBs are a high labour / labour intensive process, so it is unsurprising AUstralia is not competitive.. with anywhere in the world... maybe Germany ha ha.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2024, 05:47:00 am by glenenglish »
 

Offline IconicPCB

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #34 on: February 16, 2024, 05:51:07 am »
Glen,
If You are looking for a lower cost source send me a representative set of gerbers and I will check my eastern european source.
 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #35 on: February 16, 2024, 05:55:24 am »
thanks for the options, that's something I wil send to you , send me an email so I can find it.

I am looking at alternatives to China, perhaps Thailand .  Perhaps eastern europe.

Currently, I am extremely happy with my fine geo boards made by "Well PCB" in China.... they are excellent . they're not a point and click web outfit, you send them gerbers and chat with them, and they tell ya how much.
 I use them for 8-12 layers, for 4-6 layers I use JLCPCB.  actually JLC made me some Rogers boards 2 layer and they were right-on.
 

Offline rea5245

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #36 on: February 16, 2024, 12:56:01 pm »
Glen,
If You are looking for a lower cost source send me a representative set of gerbers and I will check my eastern european source.


Would your Eastern European source be interested in being included in PCBShopper's price comparison list? I run it, and I'm always looking to include manufacturers from different areas.

There's no charge to be included in the list, but they would need software on their server that can respond to price queries.

- Bob Alexander
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Online Mangozac

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #37 on: February 18, 2024, 09:38:10 pm »
I am looking at alternatives to China, perhaps Thailand .  Perhaps eastern europe.
I'd not heard of boards coming out of Thailand before. Have you found anything promising?

This is a topic I'm always interested in. Of course nowhere is going to do it for the same price as China but it's amazing just how wide the cost gap is!
« Last Edit: February 18, 2024, 09:40:02 pm by Mangozac »
 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #38 on: February 18, 2024, 09:41:33 pm »
I read about it , so far I've found a couple of, what I think are chinese companies  set up in Thailand, but nothign concrete yet. I think that will be the next growth in our local area to derisk China.
 

Online Mangozac

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #39 on: February 18, 2024, 11:43:25 pm »
Hmmm yes but if they're just Chinese companies operating in Thailand are you really derisking?
 

Offline dobsonr741

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #40 on: February 19, 2024, 03:57:06 am »
OSH Park, if you are ready to decide not to send more business to China. Every order will feel good you directed to OSH Park and away from JLC.
 

Online SCSKITS

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #41 on: February 21, 2024, 08:00:15 pm »
Back in the mid 2000s through about 2015 when I left the company I was working at I did thousands of boards at quickturnpcb in S Korea (they were U&I at the time), mostly 8 layer and 4 layer. Always had good results. My contact there G. T. Han visited our facility once when he was over here. They were the best value I could find at the time. For my own boards, I started with ALLPCB, mostly 2 and 4 layer boards. All were fine and arrived in about a week. For the last year or so, using JLCPCB for the same types of boards with similar results. I find JLC to be a bit less expensive these days vs ALL especially for 4 layer and for larger boards.. Wish there was an alternative here, but so far, none can meet the price and my margins are small so every penny counts.

ed
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Online SmokeyTopic starter

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #42 on: February 21, 2024, 11:00:51 pm »
I watched that video tour of JLCPcb recently.  It's sort of amazing the level of continuous automation that goes into the whole process at that scale. 

Questions:
1) Does JLCPcb have a higher level of automation and that's why they are such low cost, or is that essentially the same process that everyone uses these days? 
2) Is a JLCPcb level of automation something you can put together off the shelf, and if so would it be possible to replicate that process anywhere?  Does this only work economical in China? 
3). ...
4) profit!
 

Offline meshtron

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #43 on: February 22, 2024, 12:04:44 am »
OSH Park, if you are ready to decide not to send more business to China. Every order will feel good you directed to OSH Park and away from JLC.

EDIT: My mistake, the experience I describe below was a mashup.  I couldn't get OSHPark to even quote my boards in non-purple without calling someone so gave up on that.  Macrofab wouldn't recognize my KiCAD files and never got back to me after I asked for some clarification.

I had some recent boards quotes at OSHPark Macrofab(!).  Their website was a bit junk (couldn't recognize my files even though they were as specified, possibly because I was using a pre-release version of KiCAD 8).  Board price was ~4X what I paid PCBWay (same quantity and specs).  I couldn't figure out how to NOT get purple (these had to be white soldermask, period).  They sent me an email when I "abandoned" my cart asking if they could help.  I wrote back asking some specific questions about where they'd be made, white soldermask, etc. and never got a response.

I will try again at some point because I would really rather get my stuff made somewhere in North America, but as a first experience it was shockingly poor.  "We may cost 4X as much but at least the service is bad!"  I'm sure others have had better experience, hopefully I will next time as well.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2024, 12:07:14 am by meshtron »
 
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Offline alm

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #44 on: February 22, 2024, 12:45:41 am »
I had some recent boards quotes at OSHPark Macrofab(!).  Their website was a bit junk (couldn't recognize my files even though they were as specified, possibly because I was using a pre-release version of KiCAD 8)
Why not send Gerber files instead of hoping the CAD packages you both use will be compatible? Gerber is the industry standard for a reason. 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #45 on: February 22, 2024, 12:53:17 am »
I didnt think anyone send CAD specific files.

I thought everyone sent gerbers.
 

Online ataradov

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #46 on: February 22, 2024, 01:11:06 am »
2) Is a JLCPcb level of automation something you can put together off the shelf, and if so would it be possible to replicate that process anywhere?  Does this only work economical in China? 
There are two parts to that automation. One is user facing part and then the actual manufacturing.  US manufacturing fails at the first, most likely because they also behind on the second. You don't want to have a slick interface if you can't handle all the orders that come in. And you don't want to build up manufacturing capability if you won't have any orders.

And even if you decide to automate stuff, you would them have to invest in marketing. So, it is a lot of upfront investment.

Just looking at the first US manufacturer that came to mind (4PCB / Advanced Circuits) - go to their site, see big green "GET INSTANT QUOTE" button, press it, observe - "CREATE ACCOUNT (NEW USERS) | LOG-IN". Nope, thank you, the quote was not as instant as I needed it to be. I'm not giving you my email to be spammed before I know I want to deal with you.

And the only reason they came to mind is that I look at their promotional PCB coaster every day. So, clearly they invested a bit into marketing. They just don't seem to get how modern times work and that nobody wants to talk to sales people, except other sales people.


OSH Park are exceptionally good at what they do, but they are really only setup for prototypes. I started using them a lot after they added "after dark" color option. I would not be using puke purple even for prototypes. But unfortunately "after dark" is only available in two layers, no 4 layer option for that. If I were them, I would drop the purple gimmick and revert to the plain green PCBs. They would get a lot more business at least from me.

If anything, for hobby friendly stuff, OSH Park will scale up sooner than any of the established manufacturers.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2024, 01:17:57 am by ataradov »
Alex
 
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Offline rea5245

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #47 on: February 22, 2024, 01:26:49 am »
At the risk of introducing politics, I think the American PCB manufacturing situation highlights how the problem goes far beyond anything tariffs could fix. The price difference between China and US manufacturers is so great that 10% or even 60% tariffs would not help. You would need tariffs of a few hundred percent, and that would just crash electronics development in the US.
 

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #48 on: February 22, 2024, 01:29:55 am »
labor costs. PCBs are hard labor work. USA  never going to compete with SE asia  without robots doing all the work
 

Offline floobydust

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #49 on: February 22, 2024, 01:35:08 am »
AP Circuits Calgary closing note:
"The Chinese Government has aggressively pursued market dominance for their industries forcing over 600 board shops to shutter in North America in the past 5 years. As of June 2019, pricing for Chinese produced boards delivered to North America are less expensive than raw material costs and overhead for a domestic fabricator. Except for instances where Intellectual Property protection is required, Chinese shops are taking the majority of the remaining orders. Privately owned operations are unable to compete against a government's wealth. This past year, prototyping has been aggressively pursued by Chinese fabricators. A reduction in delivery times from their continent combined with artificially low pricing is impacting all manufacturing in North America. After 35 years in operation, AP Circuits has been forced to discontinue production and layoff it's staff."

It's obvious the chinese are dumping PCB fab services, and we all like the low prices.
 

Online ataradov

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #50 on: February 22, 2024, 01:35:48 am »
And a major part of it is that existing US manufacturers don't want to deal with lots of small orders, even if it is automated to a high degree. They have juicy government contracts that can't go elsewhere, so the price is whatever they want (within reason, of course). For them there is no need to race to the bottom, they are on a leisurely cruise, not in a race.

The only way I see this addresses is by introducing new players specifically oriented at this kind of stuff. They would still have to compete with China though, so who knows how it would work out economically.

It would be interesting to see OSH Park  financials. I wounder if there is a possible room for them to actually start making the boards on their own and start offering more options.
Alex
 
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Online ataradov

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #51 on: February 22, 2024, 01:40:13 am »
It's obvious the chinese are dumping PCB fab services, and we all like the low prices.
Sure, but was "AP Circuits Calgary" setup to take my order just as easy as PcbWay? There is no point complaining that you lost when you have not even competed in that market. And it turns out there is a huge market for small batch orders. And existing vendors still discard it and not even try.

I'll be happy to pay more for the US manufacturing. But there are no companies willing to do the business without calling for quote and other BS like that.
Alex
 
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Offline cosmicray

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #52 on: February 22, 2024, 01:48:03 am »
2) Is a JLCPcb level of automation something you can put together off the shelf, and if so would it be possible to replicate that process anywhere?  Does this only work economical in China? 
There are two parts to that automation. One is user facing part and then the actual manufacturing.  US manufacturing fails at the first, most likely because they also behind on the second. You don't want to have a slick interface if you can't handle all the orders that come in. And you don't want to build up manufacturing capability if you won't have any orders.

And even if you decide to automate stuff, you would them have to invest in marketing. So, it is a lot of upfront investment.
Correct, investment for the long haul is the key here. Something that has not been mentioned in this thread, is that your JLCPCB signin credentials are also your LCSC signin credentials. They appear to be mutually owned and cooperative up to a point. LCSC claims on one of their about pages that they are running 14K+ orders a day (probably 5 or 6 days a week). The last 3 orders for parts, they notified me from the warehouse floor of an issue (GMT+8) and I replied to them within the hour (GMT-5), because sometimes you glance at the phone at odd hours. The orders have all been correct as far as I can tell.

One day I did a mental exercise (similar to the premise of this thread) about a $3 reel of resistors I had in my cart ... can I match that price at Mouser (by specs, not by brand). The first two (major names) came in at $25 and $18 per reel, but I kept digging. Eventually I found a name I've never heard of at $5/reel. That was rock bottom, and I doubt many people buying for production would go after that brand.

If you are going to compete, you need both the economies of scale, and you need the hundreds of companies that supply all the parts that LCSC has listed (or which maybe 1/3 are in stock), and that JLCPCB will use in fully assembled boards. North America certainly has a variety of semiconductor firms, but how many are there that make little formed pieces of tin to hold a CR-2032 against a PCB ? The other issue in this is what wage scale are your workers being paid. I doubt the Chinese are making equivalent to what people working at any of the USA or Canadian PCB shops are paid. The only place in North America that might have closer wage parity is Mexico. I've never tried to get any boards made there, but the search engine turned up 3 or 4 business names.

I doubt we will ever get a shop (in North America) that can make $2 promotional special PCBs, the numbers just don't pencil in.
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Online ataradov

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #53 on: February 22, 2024, 01:56:08 am »
can I match that price at Mouser (by specs, not by brand).
  But this is also an incomplete comparison. Mouser and DigiKey at least pretend to sell more than just the parts. I don't know about today, but some time ago you could call DigiKey and get technical answers to the questions about the parts. And they invite vendors to train those engineers for that. I personally did 3 full-day presentations at DigiKey.

This is an additional service that inflates the price of the product. The thing is, most people don't care about that. And all I want is a service that will sell me the stated part number. And that's what LCSC is. When I buy at LCSC, I have no expectation of tech support. But it is fine, if the wrong $3 reel arrives, I'll just toss it and order a new one.

This is the service that does not exist in the US.

I doubt we will ever get a shop (in North America) that can make $2 promotional special PCBs, the numbers just don't pencil in.
But they can sell them at a slightly higher price and still pull some of the business, which in turn increases your ability to offer cheaper prices.

You don't just start from a successful company on day one. PcbWay and other aggressively marketed. I don't remember seeing any marking at all from US companies.
Alex
 

Offline floobydust

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #54 on: February 22, 2024, 02:02:30 am »
It's obvious the chinese are dumping PCB fab services, and we all like the low prices.
Sure, but was "AP Circuits Calgary" setup to take my order just as easy as PcbWay? There is no point complaining that you lost when you have not even competed in that market. And it turns out there is a huge market for small batch orders. And existing vendors still discard it and not even try.

I'll be happy to pay more for the US manufacturing. But there are no companies willing to do the business without calling for quote and other BS like that.

I agree. TBH all North American PCB fab houses are a ripoff charging high setup fees. Thank you china for putting an end to that scam. NA fabs are going extinct unless they ditch the high setup fees and dislike of small, prototype orders.
I'd read the US Gov't is subsidizing ones that do military products.
But it is (was) nice getting boards made and picking them up locally, in a couple days.
 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #55 on: February 22, 2024, 02:08:53 am »
Quote
I agree. TBH all North American PCB fab houses are a ripoff charging high setup fees. Thank you china for putting an end to that scam. NA fabs are going extinct unless they ditch the high setup fees and dislike of small, prototype orders.
I'd read the US Gov't is subsidizing ones that do military products.
But it is (was) nice getting boards made and picking them up locally, in a couple days.

I totally disagree. US manufacturers are not necessarily ripping people off- just you don't like the pricing.
The setup fees are likely a simple reflection of the costs involved. Divide setup costs by 10 and you probably have the mainland china setup labor cost.
 

Online ataradov

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #56 on: February 22, 2024, 02:30:33 am »
Ok, I went to 4pcb and created an account with a disposable email and dummy data. Then I did instant order (interface for this looks straight from the early 2000s).

I quoted my USB Sniffer board,which is 2.29 x 1.50 inch (58.3 x 38.2 mm) 2 layer board. The quote interface did not specify what units should be used for measurements (turns out it is inches, go figure).

Here is the matrix:
Code: [Select]
Qty Same Day 1-day 2-day 3-day 4-day 5-day E Test(Lot)
5 $108.64 $68.80 $46.44 $36.21 $34.93 $33.66 $110.00
10 $55.97 $35.35 $23.78 $18.49 $17.82 $17.16 $135.00
50 $13.84 $8.59 $5.65 $4.31 $4.14 $3.97 $169.20
150 $8.40 $5.05 $3.17 $2.31 $2.20 $2.09 $169.20

OSH Park was able to make 3 of those boards for $17.25 (Plus free USPS shipping, which is a huge selling point for OSH Park). So, $5.75 per board.

Here the cheapest price is $33.66/5 =  $6.73 per board. This is before shipping, which is far for free here.

WAIT, it is $33.66 per PCB. They can F right off with prices like this.

Obviously, it becomes affordable at 50+ PCBs. But this is not what I want most of the time. And guess what, if I prototyped with PcbWay, they already have the files and I know they work, so it is very easy for me to just place a real order with them and not worry about filling out an ancient HTML form.

So, OSH Park that does not even manufacture those PCBs was able to take my order, subcontract its manufacturing, receive the panel back and stuff it into envelopes for shipping cheaper than an actual manufacturer?

And the actual manufacturer was infuriating and tried to take a whole bunch of personal information before even showing me the price.

And even if they don't want to run that small order store front, what is stopping them from going to OSH Park and partnering with them to expand availability? Or establish a new third-party company that will deal with the small orders via an interface from this century.

Also, here is email you receive from them on registration. WTF is this ransom note? And offering $250 off kind of sets the expectation for the order size from their side.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2024, 02:59:09 am by ataradov »
Alex
 

Offline rea5245

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #57 on: February 22, 2024, 02:41:33 am »
And even if they don't want to run that small order store front, what is stopping them from going to OSH Park and partnering with them to expand availability? Or establish a new third-party company that will deal with the small orders via an interface from this century.

As the operator of PCBShopper, I'm aware of an American PCB manufacturer that set up a small order store front. They made me sign an NDA, so I won't say who. For some reason, they didn't want it identified with their company. And after a few years, they shut it down (which is why I feel free to say this much about it). Its prices were better than their corporate site, but still not competitive with the Chinese companies.

- Bob Alexander
 

Online ataradov

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #58 on: February 22, 2024, 02:45:10 am »
Its prices were better than their corporate site, but still not competitive with the Chinese companies.
This is awesome, cool service, so secret that it requires an NDA to even learn about it. Just straight from the book of how to start a successful business.

This pretty much sums up US companies approach to the issue.
Alex
 
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Offline floobydust

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #59 on: February 22, 2024, 02:52:24 am »
Quote
I agree. TBH all North American PCB fab houses are a ripoff charging high setup fees. Thank you china for putting an end to that scam. NA fabs are going extinct unless they ditch the high setup fees and dislike of small, prototype orders.
I'd read the US Gov't is subsidizing ones that do military products.
But it is (was) nice getting boards made and picking them up locally, in a couple days.

I totally disagree. US manufacturers are not necessarily ripping people off- just you don't like the pricing.
The setup fees are likely a simple reflection of the costs involved. Divide setup costs by 10 and you probably have the mainland china setup labor cost.

What do you think is reasonable for setup fees? How much time and labour is really involved putting Gerber files to the photoplotter, the NC drill file etc. ?
I think they (NA fabs) historically supplement their costs by adding additional charges which I dislike.
 

Offline rea5245

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #60 on: February 22, 2024, 02:56:55 am »
This is awesome, cool service, so secret that it requires an NDA to even learn about it. Just straight from the book of how to start a successful business.

The NDA just covered the fact that the site was connected to the larger company. They were included in PCBShopper's price comparison list, and they bought an ad for a couple of years. I don't know what other advertising they might've done.

- Bob Alexander
 

Online ataradov

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #61 on: February 22, 2024, 03:02:55 am »
Yeah, I've got that. I can't say I've heard about any new PCB service in the last few years, so I guess their marketing was bad. At the same time I see an ad for PcbWay pretty much weekly in random YT videos. If one of those ads was for a new PCB service, I'll surely check it out.

This is like one of 100s Google products that you learn about from the news about it being shut down.
Alex
 

Offline bdunham7

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #62 on: February 22, 2024, 03:03:15 am »
I totally disagree. US manufacturers are not necessarily ripping people off- just you don't like the pricing.
The setup fees are likely a simple reflection of the costs involved. Divide setup costs by 10 and you probably have the mainland china setup labor cost.

The setup fees are a reflection of the gross inefficiency of their systems compared to something like OSHPark, PCBWay or NextPCB.  I just ordered some very small , very simple boards for a repair project and OSHPark was able to import my files and process my order in seconds at a cost of $8.80 for 12 boards--shipped.  I've had to talk to NextPCB one time because I ordered a small, round board with no copper and their system flagged it as incomplete. They took the time to call me and straighten it out just because it's what they do, not because my order was really worth the trouble.   
A 3.5 digit 4.5 digit 5 digit 5.5 digit 6.5 digit 7.5 digit DMM is good enough for most people.
 

Online SmokeyTopic starter

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #63 on: February 22, 2024, 09:07:42 am »
labor costs. PCBs are hard labor work. USA  never going to compete with SE asia  without robots doing all the work
Based on that factory tour video, this is what JLCPcb is doing.  There are still some places I was surprised to see humans handling the panels, but there were a ton of robots and conveyer belts. 

It's like McDonalds.  Why not just support a higher minimum wage when you know you will be replacing 90% of your employees with kiosks.

It was during lunar new year, so the normal engineering crew might have been out, but JLCPcb had one hell of a time actually processing a penalized design I sent.  They kept trying to make either the single board or the panel outline by itself without the actual boards on it. It took like a week of one-a-night emails to sort it out.  So there is still room for automation improvement.
 

Offline meshtron

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #64 on: February 22, 2024, 03:25:31 pm »
I had some recent boards quotes at OSHPark Macrofab(!).  Their website was a bit junk (couldn't recognize my files even though they were as specified, possibly because I was using a pre-release version of KiCAD 8)
Why not send Gerber files instead of hoping the CAD packages you both use will be compatible? Gerber is the industry standard for a reason.

I wasn't "hoping" the CAD package I use was compatible, it was advertised on their site as such!  And I did end up sending Gerber files - which I have no problem with.

Also, interestingly, just got a response email from the one I sent 2.5 weeks ago - so someone from Macrofab is seeing this. :)
 

Offline ccmfab

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #65 on: February 22, 2024, 04:50:59 pm »
I wasn't "hoping" the CAD package I use was compatible, it was advertised on their site as such!  And I did end up sending Gerber files - which I have no problem with.

Also, interestingly, just got a response email from the one I sent 2.5 weeks ago - so someone from Macrofab is seeing this. :)

Hi Meshtron, you are correct! We do try to keep on top of what's going on out in the world and use posts and threads like this to better understand where we can improve and provide feedback to the team.  I am a founder here at MacroFab (Chris), and I lead our product and support teams.

Not getting a rapid response to your questions was unacceptable, we focus on an exceptional support experience, and you didn't get that experience.  That was a failure on our part, and one for which I am responsible. I reviewed our workflows with our support team and we have corrected the issue that resulted in you not getting a response immediately. I know that this doesn't make up for the fact that it happened, but I hope that you will give our team another chance.

We do advertise supporting KiCad and we work directly with the KiCad team to resolve issues when they come up.  The interim builds often cause issues for our parsers. We have identified the issue in the version you used and have opened a ticket with the KiCad team to assist us in resolving the issue, hopefully we can get their feedback and implement any needed changes quickly.

A couple of things I'd like to answer from the thread:

We don't offer purple soldermask or silkscreen.  We have a wide variety of color options available, but purple is not one of them (our default is red).  Right now, you can access the soldermask colors by clicking the "Specifications" button on the Design tab.  We are releasing an update to that interface in the next few weeks that will make specifications more front-and-center, and easier to use.

We currently source PCBs from the US, Brazil, Colombia, Taiwan, and China. The bulk of our PCBs come from Taiwan.  US is always used for our fast-turn (10-day) service, ITAR orders, and when our production customers request it. China is often used for high-volume orders where price is a driving concern, or low-cost tiers.  For all others, the platform dynamically chooses source based on best possible outcomes given specifications, lead time, and transit concerns.

You're right that we're more expensive than PCBWay and JLCPCB, there are a number of great points brought up in the thread, but I'd like to add a few additional points for consideration:

1. We're a contract manufacturer. PCBs, for us, are a thing we have to buy. Like other materials, we have costs associated with them and we necessarily have to sell them at a higher cost than we pay.
2. JLC and PCBWay are both vertically integrated fabrication and manufacturing companies.  JLC is also a large distributor in China, (LCSC and JLC are the same company) providing even greater levels of vertical integration and the ability to offer some services at a lower margin than their competitors can, as these services and products are all in-house.
3. Electronics materials prices are highly subsidized in China, both to originally create a market dominant position and to maintain it in a go-forward motion. I can't say whether or not JLC/PCBWay benefit from these specifically, but it is a thing which comes into play in securing production runs in China vs other regions.
4. Labor and material costs are significant driving factors in US PCB production, this is true - environmental controls are also a major cost consideration, as are capital costs on new facility spinups.  Construction is expensive, and even though a small amount of subsidies have been created recently for construction of new PCB fabrication plants in the US, the bulk of that capacity has/will go to defense industry where the profits are higher and the demand is guaranteed.

I'm happy to answer any questions you may have, or take any additional feedback that we can use to improve our product and service offerings!

Thanks,
Chris
 
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Offline rea5245

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #66 on: February 22, 2024, 05:04:51 pm »
Chris, would Macrofab like to be included in PCBShopper's price comparison list? There's no charge to appear on the list and no charge for users to be forwarded to your web site. All I'd need is for you to implement a simple API on your server to allow PCBShopper to query for prices.

If you're interested, go to PCBShopper.com and send me a message via the Contact form.

- Bob Alexander
  PCBShopper.com
 

Offline meshtron

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #67 on: February 22, 2024, 05:05:16 pm »
Chris - appreciate your post.  For me, in fact, Macrofab just following up via email (and even more so posting here) does indeed make up for the fact I had a bumpy start.  No company is perfect, great companies recognize issues (even when they're small) and fix them - glad to see that's exactly how Macrofab works!

The KiCAD compatibility is on me, no knock for you guys and my assertion about your website was unfair, I was (as I mentioned) merging my experience with Macrofab and another vendor.

With respect to pricing, all valid points and - to me - there are and will be products where we're willing and able to pay the premium to get them made somewhere other than China.

Anyway, thanks for having your team follow up, and thanks for posting here.  I still have the need that originally caused me to reach out to Macrofab and will continue to pursue finding a way to get that to work.
 

Offline ccmfab

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #68 on: February 22, 2024, 07:10:36 pm »
Great! If you run into any issues along the way, feel free to reach out to me directly (my last name at macrofab.com) and I'll make sure we do everything in our power to make you successful.

@bob - I'll take a look and follow up with you.

Thanks,
Chris
 

Offline floobydust

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #69 on: February 23, 2024, 03:45:05 am »
Something not being mentioned here is the quality of base laminate used.

I had a product where the CM quietly changed and went from a North American PCB vendor to a South Korean vendor. It was some Manufacturing Manager idiot screwup and Engineering was not consulted about it. For a few products.

Well surprise surprise, cheap laminate uses lots of resin (instead of fiberglass) so Dk was higher than the stripline design lol. What a mess.
Also, the finished copper thickness is at the minimum IPC-A-600 Class 2 spec, I think that's "1oz copper 35µm/1.4 mils thick" is cheapo 20µm and "2oz copper 70µm/2.8 mils thick" is 40µm for -40%! Although -20% I've seen as a spec too. What a surprise the high current traces are running hot.
The peel strength was shit, large through-hole parts fell off and rework was not really possible without pads lifting off.

My point is pay some attention to the make/brand of laminate used, as it is a common cost-saver. People only looking at the bottom line PCB cost will miss this. Also know regulatory approvals on it if mains is involved - UL/CSA approvals, CTI rating etc.

Second is, make sure what independently-audited quality system is in place for the PCB fab. I've had bad PCB builds from NA PCB fabs and it's been due to a crappy or non-existent quality system,  even counterfeit laminate getting used.
 

Offline glenenglish

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #70 on: February 23, 2024, 05:13:20 am »
 floobydust, Was this a 2 layer, or a multilayer?
As you know, on multilayer, type of prepreg and core is always specifiied so the amoutn of resin is driven somewhat by the density of the fibreglass mat used
-glen
 

Offline toybuilder

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #71 on: April 14, 2024, 11:08:21 pm »
Customer service is expensive.  If you have a CAM operator review and e-mail you about a problem with your board, and they spend 10 minutes of their $30/hr time with you, that's $5 already gone just to look at your board.   Got pre-sales or order handling questions?  Add another $5 or $10 answering customer questions...

That impact of labor costs goes down with improved automation, and Chinese shops generally have better quoting/ordering automation.  US companies are structurally at a disadvantage because the costs are higher.  There's no incentive to lower their prices as long as they get enough business from domestic clients willing to pay higher prices either because they have to (contract/regulations) or because they prefer domestic service.
 

Online SmokeyTopic starter

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #72 on: April 15, 2024, 12:23:03 am »
Great! If you run into any issues along the way, feel free to reach out to me directly (my last name at macrofab.com) and I'll make sure we do everything in our power to make you successful.

@bob - I'll take a look and follow up with you.

Thanks,
Chris
https://www.linkedin.com/in/cachurch/

Hey Chris.
I took a look at Macrofab.  One of my partners would absolutely love the concept of what it looks like you are doing.  He's all about bringing separate, sometimes confusing and convoluted, processes together under one software interface and streamlining that so someone who isn't necessarily an expert can navigate that space. 

I have a question though.
I've been designing and manufacturing electronics products for some time now.  I have, in my opinion, smoothly working processes in place to handle purchasing boards, components, and assembly from separate companies.  I do my own purchasing, kitting, and inventory for parts and do mostly runs of around 1000 pieces at local CM assembly shops. 
My question is:  How do you think someone like me might benefit from something like Macrofab?  Do you have examples of products transitioning from successful inhouse builds to Macrofab and saving the company money, or are your customers primarily people that don't have confidence navigating all the parts of the process on their own?

 

Offline ccmfab

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #73 on: April 16, 2024, 05:25:40 pm »
Hi Smokey,

It sounds like you have a well-orchestrated process that is meeting your needs, and likely netting you some excellent savings versus traditional turnkey manufacturing. If you aren't experiencing any issues, then there may be no clear benefits to using someone like us.

Our most successful customers are those that have a diverse catalog of products with different manufacturing requirements/volumes and are looking to reduce their management overhead of working with a stable of manufacturers and to create materials savings across products without having to fully manage their own supply chains.  We do have companies that have moved entire in-house manufacturing processes to us, netting them significant savings, but these were larger companies, with larger-scale products transitioning out of owned factories where most, if not all, elements were built in-house.  (In many ways, yes, this is the traditional contract manufacturing process.)

One way that we've been able to help a number of smaller companies who wished to manage more of their own supply chain, while taking advantage of turnkey where it didn't provide a financial benefit or one around material availability issues, is to utilize us as the central clearing house for their materials to our network of factories. 

We do help customers reduce their labor and cost overhead related to shipping, storing, and auditing owned/consigned materials. Our platform supports customers shipping owned inventory to our warehouses, and then consuming those materials on-demand either mixed with turnkey materials or not, and reducing the effort required to store, maintain, kit, and ship those materials.  Then, they can make decisions on the fly whether to use owned materials or turnkey materials for a given build.  For example - during times when a component is readily available, using turnkey through our platform to maintain a buffer stock of owned components, then when pricing or availability changes, switching to consuming owned materials without additional effort required.  (It's a drop-down in our platform, and we support dynamic sourcing profiles that can be saved for individual products.)  We then handle all of the kitting, getting materials the factory, and then reporting on consumption at the end.

That may or may not be something of use to you, but it's one of the capabilities that some of our customers have found useful to reduce their workload when doing materials management themselves.

Directly saving money on the COGS/contract price per product build is often not achieved by turning over manufacturing to our platform if you're already fully managing the supply chain in-house, but net actual costs often decrease due to lower untracked labor and management overhead, not to mention the opportunity cost associated with managing materials ones self.
 

Offline S. Petrukhin

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Re: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........
« Reply #74 on: April 17, 2024, 01:05:42 pm »
At the risk of introducing politics, I think the American PCB manufacturing situation highlights how the problem goes far beyond anything tariffs could fix. The price difference between China and US manufacturers is so great that 10% or even 60% tariffs would not help. You would need tariffs of a few hundred percent, and that would just crash electronics development in the US.

It seems that this is typical not only for the United States, but also for all other countries.
You don't have employees who are willing to work meekly without vacations and other benefits, for example.

Therefore, it is expensive because it is not mass production, but it is not mass production because it is expensive - the circle closes.
Investments are needed to break the circle and offer an initial low price, incurring a loss, but attract mass production in the future.
Investors probably don't see a chance to compete with China.

But more often than not, manufacturers live on expensive defense industry orders with a PCB price equal to the price of a cast-iron bridge.
And sorry for my English.
 


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