Author Topic: USA Based PCBs with competitive prices to China????.........  (Read 53285 times)

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Offline 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.
 

Online 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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Offline 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.
 

Offline 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. 
 

Offline 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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Offline 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.
 

Offline 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.
 


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