Manufacturing Custom PCBs And Prototypes With PCBWay

Updated on 8th Jul 2022 15:07 in DIY, General

Virtually every electronic device you can imagine contains a PCB. Although it was initially invented as early as 1936, PCBs are still the best and most reliable way of connecting electronic components in a circuit. The PCB stands for Printed Circuit Board, on which electronic components are soldered on pads connected by conductive lines. It is still called printed, but the technology goes beyond the printing process, where multiple other steps are equally important. PCB manufacturing technology continues to evolve as requirements of miniaturization, reliability, and flexibility have become critical. Each PCB is an art piece, which has to work as designed and look good. PCBs can have different shapes, colors, base materials, and can even be flexible.

PCBWay logo

Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post created in partnership with PCBWay. Future projects are in the works that will demonstrate first-hand how you can bring your project from an idea to reality using their services - stay tuned!

PCBWay's Success Story

PCBWay is a Chinese-based PCB manufacturing company. They offer a broad spectrum of PCB prototyping, assembly, design, and CNC/3D printing services. They manufacture more than 2100 PCBs daily and ship worldwide. PCBWay has grown into huge facilities having over 520 staff members in over 5+ factories. They can provide top-notch services at competitive prices by investing in new equipment, quality control, and user support. Many other PCB manufacturers offer excellent services in the same price range, but many aspects make PCBWay stand out. The primary benefits are a great website, a broad spectrum of services and technologies, and, last but not least – strong community support.

Friendly Website

The PCBWay Website is well designed and convenient from many viewpoints. The front page clearly states what services they offer, how much they cost, and how they work without cluttering the page with unnecessary information. In addition, they choose to be open with customers by providing their current order statistics. On the first page, they even offer the latest orders with progress information.

You can see the most common PCBs and starting prices depending on quota and other parameters. For example, you can roughly estimate how much it would cost to order 100pcs of 2-layer PCBs or 500 aluminium boards. The easy access to this information shows that PCBWay cares about its customers and tries to provide fair and honest services.

PCBWay latest orders

The website is easy to navigate as it has been designed to be intuitive and well-structured. Each service has its place on the website but is still easily accessible from the main webpage. The instant quote form has it all here. Once you select the service, you are directed to a more detailed ordering form. You can choose any option you want and instantly get an estimated price.

PCBWay's Instant Quote page

PCBWay is a company which offers services globally, and they are trying their best to make things easier for everyone. Their main website is in English and is where most customers place their orders. However, they also support Russian, Spanish, French, and Japanese websites. Professional translation adapts the website in terms of the target audience's language and culture.

Their high-quality services

PCBWay offers everything you need from start to finish of your electronics project. PCB Prototyping is one of the most common services they offer. There is no significant limit to what shape, size, and complexity of PCB you can order. You can tweak many PCB parameters to select different base materials, their thicknesses, the number of layers, colors of silkscreen and solder mask, and surface finish. The primary base materials you can choose are:

  • An advanced Rigid PCB. These are high-tech and quality boards based on /HDI/Rogers/High-Tg technologies usually purposed for high-frequency electronics, automotive, and other application-specific purposes. If you choose advanced panels, you may require a higher level of expertise.
  • Aluminum PCBs. You can select two types of aluminium PCBs – central and base core. The choice may depend on desired power dissipation properties and mechanical stability of the material.
  • Copper PCBs. An aluminium base can be substituted with copper for better thermal performance and other specific properties with higher costs.
  • Flexible PCB. These PCBs can be used in nonstandard portable devices or miniature electronics. You can squeeze flexible PCBs into tight spaces, bend them, and wrap them to eliminate enclosure constraints. Typical electronic devices with flexible PCBs are cameras and smartphones.
  • Rigid-flex PCB. This technology joins flexible and rigid PCBs into a single unit without additional connections between them. Manufacturing becomes easier and cheaper while having the benefits of both technologies.

They can provide 10+ layer boards with traces as small as 4mil, drill sizes as small as 0.2mm, and minimum plated holes of size 0.6mm. These limits can be pushed even further by contacting sales and consulting.

The other vital side of PCBWay is an assembly service. This step is critical after prototyping. Assembly includes applying solder paste via stencils, placing components, and soldering. Assembly is a labour-intensive process as it usually involves placing hundreds of small SMT components on the PCB surface. No human can do it better than a machine. PCBWay has all the necessary equipment to set up and automate the process with high reliability and quality.

PCBWay can supply all the necessary parts needed for your design. You also have the option to either fully or partially provide them yourself. The combo supply option is great if your design includes rare or unique parts that need special attention. Other than that, it is best to go with the complete turnkey option. Ordering of assembly is accessible through an online form where you need to choose the supply option, board type, number of unique SMT, and through-hole parts. You can also provide other detailed information that would help ease the assembly process.

Assembly enquiry page on PCBWay

After submitting the necessary information, you can instantly see the estimated price, including shipping. The price is broken down so you can see distinct manufacturing and shipping costs. The PCB prototype and assembly service deliver the working electronic device to your doorway. Turnaround can be as fast as only a couple of days – 1 day for prototyping and another for the assembly. The overwhelming majority of the time is taken by shipping.

PCBWay offers different shipping methods that may depend on your country of residence. DHL, FedEx, China Post, UPS, and other prices vary depending on the carrier. You also have various payment methods available: PayPal, Western Union, and Direct Bank Transfer. VISA is also accepted, making it very convenient for those that prefer this option.

A non-complex PCB prototype can cost $5, and PCB assembly can be as low as $30 (without parts included). Most likely, you will find a small heartwarming gift inside your package.

Prototyping services

If you are going towards a finished product with an enclosure or need a nonstandard mechanical part, PCBWay offers fast prototyping services. They provide a nice set of technologies to help achieve your goals. The main four leading fast prototyping methods to choose from are:

PCBWay's prototyping options

  • CNC machining. They are capable of performing milling and turning. In addition, CNC machining is robust because the machine can produce multiple parts quickly when CAD files are prepared and loaded.
  • Sheet metal fabrication. They will prepare press and cutting forms according to CAD files. After that, there is no limit on how many parts you can make. The process is rapid once set up. Finished products can be finished using anodizing, plating, powder coating, and painting.
  • 3D printing. PCBWay uses different printing technologies depending on the materials and properties required. The main technologies are FDM (Focused Deposition Modeling), SLS (Selective Layer Sintering), and SLA (Stereo Lithography Apparatus).
  • Injection molding. This technique allows the manufacturing of plastic parts by pressing hot plastic into molds, enabling high precision and large volumes of pretty complex parts. Usually, injection molded parts are used for enclosures.

PCBWay is serious about its quality assurance. Their main goal is zero defects with timely delivery. They use materials of well-known brands while maintaining ISO 9001 and UL certifications. More than 70 specialists ensure that all requirements are met at the highest level.

The strong community

The PCBWay has surrounded itself with a strong community. They have over a quarter-million registered users who contribute and, in the same way, benefit from being a so-called PCBWayer. To become a community member, all you have to do is register and start using services. You already get a discount coupon for your first order just by registering. If your project is a simple PCB, most likely, it will be delivered for free without shipment cover. However, the most significant benefit comes when you start sharing your projects with the community. Here you can apply for sponsorship and even crowdfunding. They have already sponsored over 23000 schools, open-source projects, and make fairs.

PCBWay also organizes shopping festivals, giveaways, and sales where everyone can win great prizes from the gift shop and get cash rewards and valuable coupons. This win-win ecosystem helps both sides grow both sides and learn from each other.

Final word

The PCB manufacturing market is very competitive. As a maker, DIYer, or creator, you will probably be looking for the lowest price, highest quality, fast turnaround times, and excellent customer support. PCBWay brings all these core values into one place. All you need to start your PCB-making journey can be found on PCBWay's website. Whether you order a single small PCB or a complex multilayer Rigid-Flex PCB, you are always treated equally and respectfully. So, if you are thinking of getting a PCB manufactured or are interested in the possibility of taking your project to the next level, take a look at PCBWay's services!

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