PC Board Manufacturers


Active Member
Does anyone have any recommendations for low-volume (~100) PC board manufacturers? I've looked at PCB123 and ExpressPCB and like that both include a simple schematic and layout editor. Any comments on either company and/or the software they provide? Are there any other (better) choices for this type of thing?

Thanks in advance,
I've used ExpressPCB several times. It's usually been for their miniboard service which has been very quick. I've also done a run of 30 or so small boards with them. Turnaround has always been just a couple days.

The only complaint I've ever heard about them is that you are tied to using their software. It is proprietary so any designs you make with it cannot be easily sent to a different manufacturer. There may be some third party software out there that does the conversion, but I haven't looked into it. The software also will not detect errors - like accidentally crossed traces.

There are quire a few different services out there now. Most, if not all, will accept files created from the free version of Eagle (I think there's still a free version). I've been happy with ExpressPCB so I haven't really looked around.

Many of the cheaper fabricators are located outside the US - mostly in Asia and Eastern Europe. Turnaround is usually pretty good, but definitely longer than from places within the US like ExpressPCB. Also, although I don't know any details, I expect that the fabricators in the US are held to higher environmental standards than in other locations.
Besides those that Smee mentioned, two suppliers that I use a lot are PCBexpress (not to be confused with ExpressPCB) and Gerland. Both are reasonably priced, and PCBexpress has their prices posted on their web site.

PCBexpress, PCBpro (which is for >100 boards), and PCB123 are all part of Sunstone Circuits, so prices should be similar between the three.

I have found everything the Smee said to be true:

ExpressPCB and PCB123 both lock you in to their service by providing proprietary software.

Their software has NO error checking and does not support design rules. It often takes multiple iterations to get a good board, with a big effect on cost. The fact that you can't use a standard Gerber viewer to check your work means you can't always see what you are getting until it arrives.

They all take just a few days, but depending on complexity, Gerland might manufacture your board in Germany. Even then, it is usually just a week, and the quality can't be beat.
I like the fact expresspcb has a good deal on getting a few boards done quickly so you can get a "first" prototype in before creating the final production run.
I've been doing a little looking in this area too lately. I haven't bought any boards yet, but I'm considering these guys-


As for tools, I found these-


Which can generate gerber files. I haven't tried sending them anywhere yet, but they should be good just about anywhere.

I'm working on an inexpensive 10 stereo pair power amp, based on car audio chips. Even with NREs, I figure it'll cost less than $200. (not counting my time, of course ;-)