PCBs & Cheap PCBs–Are They Both Reliable Solutions for PCB Needs?

Posted 12/4/2019 by AdvancedPCB
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When there is a need for design testing that involves a PCB, there is also a problem with timelines and costs. For example, a cheap PCB is really all that is needed to run a design, and yet a fast turnaround on a single, custom PCB can be hard to find. Fortunately, there are options for those in need of a cheap PCB as well as full-blown PCB production when a product is ready for the manufacturing phase.

Before delving into the ways a design team might get both a cheap PCB prototype and full PCB production, let’s look at the overall process to figure out why this is even a concern.

Is There Such a Thing as a Cheap PCB?

PCB manufacturing processes make it seem as if a cheap PCB prototype is impossible, and that bulk PCB production is cost prohibitive. The basic process of a two layer (or more) PCB involves:
  • Designing the board – Creating blueprints using the appropriate software and file formatting can be a relatively expensive endeavor since investing in software may be required.
  • Printing – The design is printed on films, in some production processes, as this helps troubleshoot the design, but some firms use specialized software to identify potential shortfalls in the design even before a cheap PCB prototype is ordered.
  • Production – Building the substrate, printing the layers, UV hardening, copper removal, lamination, inspections, pressing, drilling, plating, imaging, etching, soldering, and even silk screening stages are then used to create the PCB before the final prototype or board is tested.
This process holds true, even if it is just a single layer cheap PCB needed for something as simple as a calculator or other lightweight electronic device. This means that the production of a single PCB can be impactful to the budget. The more complex, the more design and evaluation is needed, and the higher the risk of errors that could lead to a large batch of flawed, and therefore useless, PCBs. How to Guarantee That Even a Cheap PCB Is Effective For many electronics firms and companies in need of at least one type of PCB, the idea of a cheap PCB typically translates to something outsourced or produced overseas. This eliminates a lot of the quality controls usually present in a domestic option, and it is why AdvancedPCB is an ideal resource for any company wondering if traditional PCB production and cheap PCB can yield the same, optimal outcomes–regardless of complexity.

The answer to that concern is simple: Yes, we offer the best solution for cheap and production PCBs. This is because we make an abundance of free tools available that help to streamline the manufacturing process while also guaranteeing that some of the costliest issues just cannot occur.

AdvancedPCB is a full-service manufacturer of PCBs with over twenty years of expertise and experience. Our focus is supporting clients and facilitating projects of any kind; even on the most limited budgets. We do this by providing the following resources:

Free PCB Layout Software – PCB Artist: It does not matter if the design team is highly advanced and skilled, their time still costs money and boosts production expenses. This can turn the creation of simple or cheap PCBs into a far more expensive issue. This software, made available in an unrestricted format for clients, can design PCBs of up to 28 layers. It has full integration with a library of more than half of a million parts, a controlled auto router function to streamline and speed up design, and multi-page schematics that replace costly and difficult to read film printouts. Entirely free to use, intuitive and simple, it is considered industry-best where printed circuit board design tools are concerned, and those who order from AdvancedPCB enjoy full use of the program. This cuts costs and helps ensure that cheap PCBs are possible.

Free PCB File Check: Whether or not a team uses the free resource that is PCB Artist, they will certainly want to use our FreeDFM program. This is an evaluation tool that requires design files to be uploaded to the site, and then a series of diagnostics are run and guarantee that the most glaring errors are corrected automatically. It also poses questions of files that seem to have potential errors. This prevents the creation of a batch of flawed PCBs, and the company extends a discount to clients that run designs through the software as part of the submission process.

Using the design and file checking programs costs a client nothing but the time it takes to export the Gerber (or other file types), upload them, use any of the tools, and register for a full report to be sent via email. Along with the report comes a discount code to ensure the cheapest PCB creation process possible.

Saving Even More on PCBs

Besides these resources, AdvancedPCB offers the most affordable, high quality PCB production through such features as:
  • No minimums: Whether it is one PCB produced in a day, or multi-layer PCBs produced with the best on-time shipping record in the industry, there are no fixed lot requirements locking a customer into huge, bulk orders and more product than might ever be used.
  • No tooling fees: Standard specifications on a PCB design mean no tooling charges will apply, and even Custom Specification orders reordered as Standard Specification orders also have the tooling fees waived.
  • No subcontractors: One way that some firms cut costs is to sub out the project, but with a massive domestic production facility, AdvancedPCB’s clients can rest assured no brokering is involved.
It is not always true that cheap PCBs and standard PCBs can be produced to the same high quality standards. Clients that use AdvancedPCB’s cost-cutting resources and industry-leading services will discover that affordable components can also be high quality, complex and reliable ones.
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