1. What is PCBWay?
PCBWay is a manufacturer specialized in PCB prototyping specialized in full feature custom PCB prototype production at a very budgetary price. Located in China, PCBWay offers small to mid volume production and assembly service all under one roof. Professionals, students and hobbyists are using their services for prototyping, small series custom made boards and study.
2. How to PCBWay your PCB
Lets see how you can get your PCB manufactured by the PCBWay. There are two ways of setup to calculate the price.
2.1. Request a quote
For those preferring more traditional approach - request a quote can be placed by sending an email to service@PCBWay.com and a person will quote within 24 hours, do not forget to enclose your Gerber files and all other necessary files for PCB quotation.
Also there is an option to chat with an operator and clarify some things before requesting a quote.
2.2. Online quote
In practice I often use the online quoting system since it gives me intro on the capabilities of the manufacturer. It also gives a more graphical view of the final PCBs.
The calculation of price is instantaneous and extremely precise so you can tweak the price by your desire. This also gives you the opportunity to trade on some PCB characteristics that don't mean much to you but can lower the price drastically.
This is done in the following steps.
- SIGNIN: First you must Join to Sign in to your profile. Then you can go to the PCBWay Instant Quote and play with the options of your PCB.
PLAN: There are a lot of options available to set and try, but the rule of thumb is the more "non-standard" the more expensive it is and also the more you put on a single design, the more you pay. On the other hand making a more PCBs of the same type doesn't cost you so much, and you can always add extra boards for symbolic price - don't forget that. One thing that lowers the price is if you manage to put all your boards on a single pane (same or different boards - doesn't matter).
SETTING: By pressing calculate at any time the system spits out the price of your PCB. Carefully tweaking some of the characteristics can lower the price of your board so much that it will almost approach the price of plain PCB. Beside the PCB itself there are couple more options:
SMD-Stencil is a flat sheet of material that has the pads for surface mount components cutout to match a PCB design. It provides an easy way to place solder paste to PCB. Here is a YouTube video showing how to work with stencils.
Assembly is the process of placing and soldering components on a PCB. PCBWay offers this option. Note that in order to have this you need to provide a complete BOM list (Bill Of Materials).
Also there are also some fancy stuff that can be ordered like the Flexible PCBs or a complete design of your PCB Layout.
GERBER: After you finish with setting your PCB the next step is to attach your Gerber files.
REVIEW: The engineers from PCBWay will review your Gerber files and point to problems (if there are any) and even suggest solution.
PAYMENT: Select the Awaiting Payment menu, check the Pass Payment and proceed to the checkout
FABRICATION: If the order is paid on or before 8:30 GMT, the factory can start fabrication the same day immediately. During the production time, you can find the process of production through the Production Status menu
DELIVERY: Depending on the delivery method selected, and your country of residence, the delivery can take from 3 to 7 business days from some fast couriers company, 15-30 business days from Hongkong Post and 20-45 days from China Post Air Mail. There are many delivery options to choose from depending on your location and required. For large volume you can arrange with PCBWay to ship via air, sea/air combined when necessary.
CONFIRMATION: The last step is you to confirm whether you received your order as expected. If you are not satisfied with the product you received, contact your sales-rep or after-sales team firstname.lastname@example.org to agree on a solution or you can apply for a refund by opening a dispute.
3. Why PCBWay?
Some of the reasons why I use PCBWay is mainly because of low cost and complete automatic process of ordering.
For me the most important thing at PCBWay is the pricing structure. It is transparent and has no hidden cost in it. Even for price-sensitive projects you can rely on their PCB prototype, low-volume fabrication and assembly. For example: an order of 10 standard 100mm x 100mm 2 layers PCB of great quality will cost you less than $10.
The assembly under the same roof gets you the ability to freely design your circuits with SMDs without the need to have expensive equipment for placing and soldering. The PCB assembly prices are as competitive as the PCBs. You can combine either SMT, Through-Hole or Hybrid mounting.
Boards are tested through stringent tests beside the basic visual check. PCBWay use most of the testing and inspecting equipment used in the industry like Flying Probe Tester (FPT), X-Ray and Automatic Optical Inspection (AOI).
Always reachable live customer service person to respond to your emails or messages. Service staff from PCBWay follow your orders from the time you submit your Gerber files to the minute you receive your PCBs.
3.1. Student and referral support
PCBWay offers sponsorships for student’s projects. For university students and teachers register with your email address of university domain. Also, for high school students, register with your email address, and use your high school address as shipping address. You can also send a few details such as your student ID, the nature of your projects, and other necessary supporting materials to sponsor@PCBWay.com. You will receive a free coupon code on your email in 24h.
You can also get really big discounts even at the more professional services as the PCB assembly and 10%-15% discount on future orders.
If you propose one person to register you can also get $20 discount on your orders, plus you earn 10% of what they spend on their first order.