Electronics > Manufacturing & Assembly

What is happening with JLCPB?

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Yuto:
I have always been with JLCPCB and, in my opinion, they have undergone major changes in the last year (2021) that have disappointed me a lot and because this I have been trying PCBWay, ALLPCB, etc. and I would like to share my experience.

First of all let me say the $2 offer for 5 boards is only for the first board order, otherwise the price is $4. I mentioned it because there are too much people used to order only one board and they usually don't know it.

The quality of the silk screen is not the same which is specially noticeable in labels or logos that have thick strokes or filled areas. Everyday it is becoming more and more common to receive the boards with vertical scratches in the silk screen which have certainly not been caused during transport but in their factories during manufacturing, handling or packaging.

Other times some of the delivered boards have strange but patently visible 1 or 2 mm. width lines with an irregular shape from top to bottom of the board very similar to the border of a spill. After the quality complaint process I got the official version: it comes from flaws in the "solder mask ink" but I never had this issue before.

In the past all the boards were sent in the typical vacuum bubble wrapping, but now they occasionally seem to forget it and send some set of boards in regular sealed bags (no vacuum) in the same box with other boards with the classic vacuum bubble wrapping, I didn't really get it.

In addition, if you are willing to save board storage space minimizing the number of unuseful prototypes and after hard work of grouping several designs on the same board the extra costs for this are really ridiculous. Using a real example with DHL 3-day shipping, I'd pay about $68 to get about 500 units (once the boards are cutted) by sending one board for each design (totalling, 9 boards); and $70 to get less than 170 units (once the boards are cutted) just because the extra "engineering" costs for group all the designs in only 4 boards.

Since years ago I used to order boards with the same design repeated, in a 2-row x 1-column matrix by copying and rotating the original design 180º in order to leave, e.g. an edge connector on the outside border. Now, it seems there is a new criteria, new staff or I don't know what but they consider that there are two different designs and pretend to charge an extra cost of $12-13 although it is obvious that the designs are the same and it is easier to manufacture it this way (if the two designs are at 180º the V-Cut between both is a simple horizontal line while if they have the same rotation the cutting of the edge connectors makes the manufacturing difficult). Talking about edge connectors, lately I use to get boards with a lot of scratches in those big plated parts.

Similarly an edge rail with one line of text is considered acceptable but adding 20 extra milimeters and a couple of lines of text or add a gap in order to ease the milling machine to do the outline cut when the design has round corners, may be considered arbitrarily and depending on the day, an additional design and imply an extra cost.

The customer service usually gives only evasive answers, does not help to solve real problems (even if they have simple solutions that the customer may not know but they should) or repeats over and over a template answers without paying attention to the details of the real case until they get you to give up.

Just as an illustrative example: JLCPCB customer service would sent you an email with the subject "Audit failed" saying you board is wrong, the minimum board size for V-cuts is 70x70mm., blah, blah; first time it may shock you because you don't completely understand what are they talking about but a few minutes later you understand they are only asking you to resize the board and reupload the gerber file. That may seems fine but in exactly the same case, same boards, the reply from PCBWay was "Thank you for uploading file on our website, we checked all the files but for number X and Z there are V-cut needed but some V-cut lines do not reach our minimum requirement 75mm., can we enlarge the length of the edge rails to reach 75mm. min?". I'd rather to get the second reply which explains the issue and offers a solution.

Compared to other manufacturers, the longest time PCBWay took to answer a question or request emailed to their support email address was 9 minutes. In the last year JLCPCB consistently takes more than 24 hours to reply anything from me. This may not seem important at times, but apart from the time spent in Live Chat and writing to the support e-mail address, in actual cases it has led to delays of more than 48 hours for the boards to go into production.

The quality claims service is lousy, they apologize a lot but (purposedly?) delay the resolution for weeks, requesting over and over again the same data, the same pictures,... information that they already had from the moment the complaint was registered.

Needless to say that from day one I found the website to be full of flaws. Sometimes the gerbers viewer is not available and you are forced to order the boards without being able to preview them; when order after order is placed, the counter of boards added to the shopping cart is not properly updated (unless you manually reload the web page); depending on the day there are too many "network errors" on different tabs related with orders or billing; when necessary it becomes very complicated to replace the gerber file because you have to specifically request it and wait for the option to appear so that, later on, the gerber thumbnail is always the original one, I mean it is never updated to the new one so you can never be sure that if it really has been updated or when.

I fully understand that many people who handle few orders and/or very simple orders will have no complaints but for me this has been a serious problem for too long.

I appreciate you taking the trouble to have read this far and, if you can spare a few minutes, I would like to know if any of you have had similar problems lately.

Martin Miranda:
... they are using different machine too. example is two layer board. vs n'th layer board. i use the 4 layer board just because it is alot more better than the 2 layer board. green solder mask vs black also different in terms of quality. YMMV really.  :-/O

rob77:

--- Quote from: Yuto on December 31, 2021, 11:03:18 am ---
In addition, if you are willing to save board storage space minimizing the number of unuseful prototypes and after hard work of grouping several designs on the same board the extra costs for this are really ridiculous. Using a real example with DHL 3-day shipping, I'd pay about $68 to get about 500 units (once the boards are cutted) by sending one board for each design (totalling, 9 boards); and $70 to get less than 170 units (once the boards are cutted) just because the extra "engineering" costs for group all the designs in only 4 boards.


--- End quote ---

WTF ? order some boards from fabs in europe and then complain about pricing  :-DD

it's amazing how people are able to complain about a scratch in the soldermask when they pay 4$ for 5 boards...

Yuto:

--- Quote from: rob77 on December 31, 2021, 03:05:15 pm ---WTF ? order some boards from fabs in europe and then complain about pricing  :-DD

it's amazing how people are able to complain about a scratch in the soldermask when they pay 4$ for 5 boards...
--- End quote ---
@rob77, I think you've got one or two things very wrong.

I am not arguing about their prices, I am only talking about the the progressive loss of quality of their products. JLCPCB set their prices according to their own criteria and needs and I respect that as long as there are no arbitrary and unpredictable increases as in any commercial contract. Last year the prices were no different and the quality was superior in every way, both in product and customer service. Don't you think they should honor their sales contract? Or do you think that because their price is lower than other manufacturers they are entitled to deliver the final product to the customers in any condition... or that we, the customers, have no right to complain?

On the other hand I have not mentioned scratches on the solder mask but scratches on several dozen of the edge connector tinned/plated contacts and not on one design/board/order or two design/board/order, but in all orders placed this past year.

Sorry if my message was too long, if you had a bad day or if on a special date like today too much slivovica was drunk.

MadScientist:
I haven't used PCB fab houses for a while but always used JLC. Sounds worrying

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