[sebhc] PC Fab

Lee Hart leeahart at earthlink.net
Fri Sep 17 20:10:06 CDT 2004

Carroll Waddell wrote:
> I'm looking for recommendations for a CHEAP PCB fab house. Who does the
> best work for the lowest price?

As usual, "cheap" and "best" tend to be mutually exclusive.

The real questions to ask yourself are, "What are you willing to pay?"
and "How good is good enough?"

I've bought cheap punched phenolic PC boards for under 5 cents/sq.inch.
But they are single-sided, you have to buy a minimum of 1000+ boards,
the solder pads lift off easily from excess soldering heat, and the
board material is rather weak and brittle.

I've also paid over 50 cents/sq.inch for precision multilayer boards,
where we had very tight tolerances and were depending on certain
physical properties to get stable repeatable performance.

There is a huge range of possibilities in between. Your typical
glass-epoxy double-sided PCB with plated-thru holes is a commodity item,
with dozens of companies competing for your business. They have all
sorts of marketing tricks, which may or may not lower your price. "Use
our free layout software program (but it won't let you take the board to
anyone else). "Buy now, get fast delivery for free" (because half our
plant is currently idle). "Order today and get two for the price of one"
(if you can wait 6 weeks, and order some minimum quantity).

Frankly, I don't shop for lowest price. One little screw-up, and a PC
board is nearly worthless. Your time is worth far more than the cost of
the board.
"Never doubt that the work of a small group of thoughtful, committed
citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever
has!" -- Margaret Mead
Lee A. Hart  814 8th Ave N  Sartell MN 56377  leeahart_at_earthlink.net

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