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Thread: Making an assembled PCB in US

  1. #1
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    Making an assembled PCB in US

    I'm getting close to finishing my design for a guitar effects board.
    I wonder if anybody can recommend a good US-based manufacturer for PCB's.
    I need it assembled, mostly SMD's, a few connectors, battery and a screen.
    The plastic case can be made separately or there, too.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Well, I must say the news is not good so far. Did a little research and it doesn't look like I can be making profitable PCB's in the States.
    Somebody, please, prove me wrong!!! I do want to make it here.

    As it stands today, best price for 10 PCB's (bare prototypes), 4x3 inches: China - $0.50, US - $13
    I don't even want to go to the assembled prices yet.

    Nothing political, really. I just want to bring my absolutely awesome Teensy 4.0 guitar/MIDI/voice synth to the world.

  3. #3
    Senior Member+ KurtE's Avatar
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    Yes you can get some cheap ones made in China, which I have done and still do most/part of the time.

    But the pricing can be interesting. That is if you order a board from example pcbway.com and if your 4" is really 4" then cost goes up as 4" is > 100mm and price appears to jump if either width or height > 100.

    But assume you fit their 100mm rule, yes my boards that fit that cost $5, but then I ship it using DHL which cost $18 ($1.80 each) so total of $23...

    Ordering that size board from OSHPark gets expensive, 12*5=$60 for 3 ($20 each) free shipping... I like OSHPark, but they are expensive for larger boards.

    PCBs.io is a little less expensive. $4 per sq inch for 4 free shipping $48/4 = $12. BUT: they simply group orders together and order from China...

    Not sure who PJRC uses for their main boards...

  4. #4
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    Thanks, Kurt.

    Here is what I'm going to do for the prototypes: https://www.elecrow.com/pcb-manufact...il=&sendtime=2

    That's $24.90 for 10 boards, with the "Castellated Hole" option, which I need to solder all of the Teensy 4.0 bottom pads.
    Plus $20 for 2-3 business days DHL shipping.
    I'll get 10 boards in about 5 days, $4.50 each, with cutouts for Teensy 4.0 (I hope).
    See we shall...

    Just to mention: no "Castellated Holes", no rush order, regular airmail: $1.50 a board, in your mailbox, in about 4 weeks.

    But I'm not giving up on the local guys. I'll get the prototypes and see how the volume (>= 1000) prices compare.
    Well, that's given that anybody needs my super awesome thing, of course (he-he)

  5. #5
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    Hi Andy,

    If you are serious about manufacturing here in the States. My company is located just outside Philadelphia. Please contact me directly at:

    contact@futuretechlab.org

    I do in house PCBA at competitive prices. I have a facility in Philadelphia with a CNC pick and place machine and conveyor reflow oven.

  6. #6
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    Thanks, Static.

    Show me Teensy 4 "surface mounted" with all bottom parts and holes soldered to proper (not router butchered) castellated cutouts and I'm all yours (he-he).

    And I'm as serious as I can be, just need to find enough fools to give me money for yet another Teensy with a screen and guitar input.

  7. #7
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KurtE View Post
    Not sure who PJRC uses for their main boards...
    Today all Teensy boards are assembled by SMTNW, located in Tualatin, Oregon, USA. They are close to us. Robin and I drive over there regularly. If you contact SMTNW for a quote, let them know PJRC referred you. We don't get anything tangible (like a discount) for referrals, but it's nice. SMTNW is generally only about production, so I don't recommend wasting your time & theirs if you're prototyping.

    Our experience buying bare PCBs in the USA has been less than ideal. Some time ago we used a company in the Chicago area, but they started to have quality issues. We believe they started outsourcing to somewhere in India. I've recently come to learn that pretty much any USA company offering a competitive price for production volume is almost certainly outsourcing.

    Today we buy production volume PCBs directly from several Chinese companies. Here is a list of the companies who've consistently delivered good quality.

    Code:
    Linghangda      www.lhdpcb.com.cn       Salley Tsang <salley@lhdpcb.com.cn>
    LHD Tech        lhd-pcb.com             Penny Wang <sales03@lhd-pcb.com>
    HX Tech         hx-technology.com       Jerome Jin <jerome@hx-technology.com>
    Key Circuits    keycircuits.com         Penny <sales06@keycircuits.com>
    Fusheng Tech    fspcb.com               Cherry <m2@fspcb.com>
    If you contact any of these sales people, please mention I referred you.

    Generally speaking, the way it works is you email them the gerber files for your PCB, info about how you need them panelized (if not drawn in a gerber file), a list of specs (usually in a readme.txt file included with the gerber files). The 2 specs that matter most for pricing are the PCB material type (PJRC uses FR4 Tg170) and the finish (PJRC uses ENIG 2u inch). They'll get the number of layers, trace spacing, drill size from your files. When you get the quote, usually it will list all those specs. Best to double check they got them all correct on the quote, as sending money involves fees. Some of these companies accept Paypal, but others can only accept bank transfers. Normally the point where bank transfer costs less than Paypal is around $900.

    For production PCBs, one-time setup fees in the $200 to $500 range are the norm.

    Also, before you send an email, be aware that many of these Chinese sales people can be quite persistent. Mentally prepare yourself for *many* messages! If you email them all the same files to compare prices, I highly recommend setting up filters & folders or some other way to manage the communication. Dealing with several of these companies simultaneously can become quite overwhelming.

    Some of these companies also offer assembly (PCBA) service. So far PJRC has never used any assembly service outside the USA, so please understand this referral is only based on experience buying bare PCBs.

    For prototype PCBs, I usually choose OSH Park. Even though their price is often higher for normal size boards, their service and quality have always been excellent. To me, that's worth paying a bit more. But when the board is larger and especially when I need more than 3 pieces, I sometime get protos from JLC. For example, the breakout boards for the Teensy 4.0 beta test were from JLC.

    On the rare occasions when I need a PCB made very quickly, I use Sunstone. If you go with 2 layers and no solder mask, they can make the board in 1 day. Generally that costs $100-$200 for 2 pieces, which is remarkably cheap when you really need it as fast as possible.

  8. #8
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    Wow, such a detailed answer, and from Paul himself! Thank you.

    I'm sure many people here can use this information.
    I'll trust your experience and will definitely mention your name.

    Really hope I get to the production point sometime in this life.

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