Wickerbox Electronics

Hardware Prototyping

PCBWay Board Test

I’ve been a long-time user (and former employee) of OSH Park, but recently had a large, cost-prohibitive board, no matter which turnaround time I chose. PCBWay reached out and offered a free set of boards if I’d write about my experience after, so I took them up on it.

My Takeaway

I strongly recommend considering PCBWay for their turnaround times, lower cost, good quality, and prompt and helpful customer service.

The Board

The board is 11.6 x 4.9 inches (125mm x 295mm), for a total area of 57 square inches.

Three boards ordered on OSH Park’s regular twelve-day turnaround service would have cost $285 ($95 each) and the five-day swift service would have cost $570 ($190 each).

OSH Park’s medium run was a much more reasonable $57 per board, but the minimum quantity was ten and I only needed five at the very most. Also, the turnaround time was 2-3 weeks.

OSH Park is based in Oregon and uses fabs in the USA, while PCBWay uses Chinese fabs.

There were two manufacturing differences:

OSH Park only offers purple solder mask and ENIG (gold) finish, while PCBWay offers an array of mask colors and finishes. I went with green mask and a tin finish.

PCBWay’s minimum quantity was five for this board, at $63 total ($12.60) per board. All the design rules were compatible and I used the same manufacturing outputs from KiCad to order on the website.

If I’d used the ENIG finish, the boards cost would have been $93, which is still $18.60 per board.

Concerned about the shipping time and customs fees, I ordered with International Priority FedEx for an additional $32. The boards shipped in three days and shipping took three days, with the tracking updated throughout the process.

Both services have the same process of uploading gerber files and paying. I ran into some trouble with PCBWay’s uploads but their customer service was prompt and helpful.

Results

The boards were shipped wrapped in shrink-wrapped plastic instead of loose in a bag as they are from OSH Park.

In the end, there were six boards included.

There were still some nicks and scratches, but they were cosmetic and the extra board let me choose the best three to assemble.

There was no problem making good joints with the annular rings and soldering was a breeze.

PCBWay also offers two-day and one-day turnarounds for $30 more for a board this size, so I’ll be recommending them. The extra shipping cost is more than made up for in the turnaround time and board cost.