# UK prototype/hobby PCB manufacturers?

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#### Cicero

##### Active Member
Got my order today. So 11 days total including weekends delivered from order, and on the first day I ordered late - so it would've been the next morning they picked up my order.

I ordered and paid for 5 boards, they delivered 8 - I presume because it was on the border of the size difference breaks, so they pass that on in favour of the customer. Ordered them in blue, and they look brilliant.

Nothing visually wrong with them, masking, holes and plating look good. Overlay looks perfect.

Will build them up and report back again.

#### JonSea

##### Well-Known Member
The only problem I've ever had with Elecrow was when I had 2 identical size and shape boards made. One of the boards had 8mm non-plated holes where it fit over the switch shafts and the other board had patterns in that location for the switch sockets. When the boards arrived, both sets had the holes drilled.

Setting up non-plated holes is a manual operation, and somehow they got transferred to the other board. They weren't in the Gerber file, and Elecrow had no problem saying they had made a mistake and remaking the boards. They didn't want to pay shipping, which exceeded the cost of the boards, but I had some other stuff to order so it worked out ok.

#### jpanhalt

##### Well-Known Member
Kimsmith Your 5 posts have only your positive opinion of 4pcbassembly, but no data to support that. What was your total turn-around time? What was the cost structure?

John

#### Cicero

##### Active Member
Hmm yeah, it does hurt your credibility though. But I'll keep them in mind.

Update from Elecrow: I built up the first revision boards, tested them and there were no mistakes from a manufacturing side of things...design, well .
Updated the boards, sent off for new ones. I sent my gerbers on the Friday afternoon (UK time), and I received the boards on the Wednesday afternoon. I did specify a rush order, but still, very impressive. The overlay was maybe slightly off, if I'm being overly critical but it didn't affect anything. Top class!

#### jpanhalt

##### Well-Known Member
Kimsmith
Why do you seem so reluctant to name the vendors with which you compared or to give what price you paid?

Here are some examples from this thread:
(Post #2)
I routinely use Elecrow and Smart-Prototyping with excellent results. Ten copies of a board of up to 100mm x 100mm is about US$15 (~10£) and a board of up to 50mm x 50mm is about US$10 for ten copies. These boards are fully routed (edge trimmed), so they can be any shape the fits within that size square (i.e., round, triangular shape for example).
(Post #8)
https://dirtypcbs.com/
(Post #17)
https://www.seeedstudio.com/service/index.php?r=pcb

How did the price you paid compare to those prices?

John

#### JonSea

##### Well-Known Member
Just to update this a little....

Recently I submitted Gerbers to Elecrow on Sunday, for standard delivery with DHL Shenzhen shipping. I had the boards on Thursday.

For a more recent order, I submitted the files Monday afternoon (Seattle time), not express service with shipping as above. I had them the following Monday.

With that order, I had a stainless steel stencil made. Excellent quality and less than I've paid to have one made locally.

The story and a few pictures are here.

#### Daniel Wood

##### Member
I was looking for a UK based PCB prototyping company a few months back..
Ragworm seems reasonable for low quantity batches. Ill probably try out a small board out with them sometime this year.
I don't know about their quality but they seem to be popular with the maker community. It looks like their solder mask options are bright orange only though.

#### oemcar

##### Member
For small stuff,
I've had great success with Fritzing- Very easy to use...even without manuals.
Plus, it's free to acquire- even though your prompted to make a donation. This is well deserved, IMO.
I agree with the previously posted that elecrow is very capable, which was my supplier.
Best,
Jim

#### Mikebits

##### Well-Known Member
When pricing out PCB houses, this website is a good place to start. It is sorta like Travelosity for PCB's
https://pcbshopper.com/

#### vivid

##### New Member
You can use pcbshopper.com to compare prices between many fab houses, but EasyEDA usually is the cheapest alternative anyway.
I've used it a couple of times and have been impressed by the quality of their PCBs.
The usual route is to use their free, web-based tools to do the schematic capture, any simulation required and the PCB layout and then generate the Gerbers (which are free to download and can be used with any PCB fab house: there's no tie to EasyEDA). From within EasyEDA, the Gerbers can be submitted straight to EasyEDA for fab.

However, it is equally possible to submit 3rd party Gerbers to EasyEDA for fab. It is also possible to import existing designs done in Altium, Eagle and KiCad and edit them in EasyEDA prior to PCB Gerber generation.

Their pricing and design rules are here:
https://easyeda.com/Doc/Tutorial/PCBOrder.htm

#### Mikebits

##### Well-Known Member
You can use pcbshopper.com to compare prices between many fab houses, but EasyEDA usually is the cheapest alternative anyway.
I've used it a couple of times and have been impressed by the quality of their PCBs.
The usual route is to use their free, web-based tools to do the schematic capture, any simulation required and the PCB layout and then generate the Gerbers (which are free to download and can be used with any PCB fab house: there's no tie to EasyEDA). From within EasyEDA, the Gerbers can be submitted straight to EasyEDA for fab.

However, it is equally possible to submit 3rd party Gerbers to EasyEDA for fab. It is also possible to import existing designs done in Altium, Eagle and KiCad and edit them in EasyEDA prior to PCB Gerber generation.

Their pricing and design rules are here:
https://easyeda.com/Doc/Tutorial/PCBOrder.htm

Gee, I wonder where you work

#### aardyvarky

##### Member
I looked into getting PCBs made from all over the world (USA, China, UK, EU, etc.etc.) and I think they are all overpriced. The lower-end quote for a 160mm x 100mm board was about £50 (up to £200+). For this same £50 I managed to buy all the equipment necessary to make my own PCBs (other than a UV box which I made from old bits for about £20 and a printer which I already had) including a few s/s and d/s boards. So now I can make PCBs for about £5 each.

Surely as a community, we could offer this as a service? I can't at the moment because a)I'm building my own house and b)I don't yet have a cnc drilling machine (far too slow and unreliable without one). Plus, I can't (admittedly!) do through-hole plating as yet so I have to solder both sides - not particularly onerous. I think Mega do a press for about £300 (which I can't afford yet). Perhaps we could start by someone offering to make s/s undrilled?

I found this on Ebay - I wonder if it could be used?

#### JonSea

##### Well-Known Member
I looked into getting PCBs made from all over the world (USA, China, UK, EU, etc.etc.) and I think they are all overpriced. The lower-end quote for a 160mm x 100mm board was about £50 (up to £200+)......

#### JonSea

##### Well-Known Member
If you only need one board, then making your own is the way to go.

I try to make my boards more versatile so as be generally useful. Then boards don't go to waste.

You might watch the EEVBlog video on how boards are made....then you should be astonished that you can get a 100mm x 100mm board for a buck.

#### hoghunter

##### Member
You might watch the EEVBlog video on how boards are made....then you should be astonished that you can get a 100mm x 100mm board for a buck.

Do you have a link to an acceptable Chinese supplier? After all of the reading and searching I have done, I'm convinced that is the way to go in my case. I'll be ordering approx 10-20 boards,
75mm square, to start. Thanks.

#### JonSea

##### Well-Known Member
I recently tried a newcomer and I'm very pleased with the results. At the moment, their prices for 100mm x 100mm boards,quantity 10 is just US\$5! The order screen defaults to qty 5 but if you change it to qty 10, the price is the same. If you don't mind, tell them I (Jon Chandler) referred you.
Juvt Mall

My long time favorite had been Elecrow. I have had many boards made there with execellent results. They currently have some sales going, so compare prices to Juvt Mall when you are ready to order.

I reccomend DHL Shenzeng shipping over China Post. It costs a little more but in the US, from both of the above, I've received my boards approximently 8 days after ordering.

#### mypcbshop.com

##### New Member
I've read people talking about Chinese manufacturers: I am not going to discuss the quality of Chinese circuits because I am aware everyone has her/his own idea, BUT what I would like to stress is the importance of customer service.

Due to many reasons (experience, culture, mindset and so on), European customer service is still one of the best in the world - of course it depends on the company but you know what I mean - not to mention the fact that different time zone might be an issue you don't want to deal with.
And please keep in mind that I haven't written this comment because I work at mypcbshop.com (which is an Italian manufacturer): I DO strongly believe customer service makes the difference when other factors are equal or kinda equal.
(Assuming all other factors are equal, which by the way is a whole different story).

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#### JonSea

##### Well-Known Member
For the record, I can't fault the customer service of the Chinese vendors I have used. As an example, on one board I made, I moved one of the mounting holes at the last minute....right on to a trace. I think I had the copper layers hidden when I decided to move the mounting hole.

Shortly after I submitted my Gerber files for this ten dollar order I received an email explaining my mounting hole cut tbrough a trace and asking if this was what I had intended. That's a degree of attention I would not expect on a cheap board order.

I typically receive my boards 8 days after submitting files (not expedited service) and the boards are high quality. personally, the time delay works to my advantage. If there are questions, I receive email in the evening when I can easily take time to deal with it.

I would love to use a local fab house but the truth of the matter is, I could not afford to make thd boards I do if I did.

#### mypcbshop.com

##### New Member
For the record, I can't fault the customer service of the Chinese vendors I have used. As an example, on one board I made, I moved one of the mounting holes at the last minute....right on to a trace. I think I had the copper layers hidden when I decided to move the mounting hole.

Shortly after I submitted my Gerber files for this ten dollar order I received an email explaining my mounting hole cut tbrough a trace and asking if this was what I had intended. That's a degree of attention I would not expect on a cheap board order.

I typically receive my boards 8 days after submitting files (not expedited service) and the boards are high quality. personally, the time delay works to my advantage. If there are questions, I receive email in the evening when I can easily take time to deal with it.

I would love to use a local fab house but the truth of the matter is, I could not afford to make thd boards I do if I did.

Feel free to check our online price calculator: you might be surprised

Anyways, I am glad you had a positive experience. Still I believe picking a random Chinese supplier could be risky for this or that reason

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