Printed circuit boards are an essential part of the electronics system, but they most certainly do not always come cheap. PCBs can be varying ranges in price depending on certain factors and the purpose for which a PCB is required. Some can deliver PCBs in a matter of days while other can be up to 1-2 months for shipments. The quality of the boards is a main concern for hobbyists and engineers alike. When deciding the purpose for the PCB, it’s important to decide which of these factors will determine who will produce the PCB required and for what price.
Cheap PCBs for Quick Prototyping
In the engineering profession, a piece of technology needs to be tested and retested from a complete build. This means designing, printing and mounting components onto many PCBs for the test run. This isn’t a full scale run out of product, but simply a test to determine the viability, the functions, the flaws and many other attributes of the device. This does not require the most high-tech PCB. Many companies offer services for the quick prototypers who want to just test the basics. Often, these boards come from places like China or India where the quality might not be as high standard as other places in the world. The facility it’s produced in doesn’t meet worldwide standards and the boards often come without soldermask or silkscreen for a quicker turnaround. Times vary, but a week to print and ship can be found. If the lack of mounted components or standardized facility doesn’t matter, it can be an easy way to get a small run of tests out without breaking the bank.
It’s not required, but a schematic can map out where and how the components are to be laid out. Some companies offer the service of uploading a design on to the site before construction to test for flaws before the printing stage. The schematic is tested and inspected before a large run of cheap PCBs are printed and shipped off, each one of them failing to meet the expectations of the designer. The time for turnaround on these boards can be longer, but the reward of having the design tested and approved before printing can save a lot of money.
If the facility being used to create the cheap pcb is used to fulfill high-volume orders, a small run of cheap PCBs might be left for long periods of time to satisfy the bigger order first. Smaller facilities might not have the automation machines being used by the production lines for top PCB creators, but they are able to prioritize the smaller demands of small companies and small business enterprises.
Cheap PCBs can be found if the right facility is used. Many of the cheapest PCB alternatives are found in China and India, but volume is the key to getting the best prices. It’s often a compromise between time and price for many fulfillment companies, but as the demand continues to increase, companies will arise that offer both cheap boards and fast times.