The least expensive PCB manufacturer that I’ve found so far is iTead Studio. They currently will create ten 5cm x 5cm 2-sided printed circuit boards for $9.90. Yes, that’s less than a dollar each.
They offer 3 different shipping options, so I decided to order 3 batches of PCBs, each using a different option, to assess the difference. I’ve now received all 3 batches, so can report my findings.
- Batch 1: ten 5cm x 10cm boards ($14.90) shipped least expensive ($4).
Total turn around time: 4 weeks.
- Batch 2: ten 5cm x 5cm boards ($9.90) shipped medium cost ($4.50).
Total turn around time: 3 weeks.
- Batch 3: ten 5cm x 10cm boards ($14.90) shipped most expensive (DHL $18).
Total turn around time: 6 days.
Note that this was done in December, so I would expect future shipments to be faster when not done around the holidays. The processing time by iTead was about 3 business days.
On my first order, I had forgotten to include any dimension information in the gerber files. I received an email from iTead explaining what was needed, and providing a couple simple options for how to fix it. I uploaded a file to their site that included the needed info, and the order proceeded without delay.
So based on my results, I’m going to order parts using DHL shipping when I need fast turn around, and use the middle option when I have a the time to wait. For merely a 50 cent difference, I see no reason to ever use the cheapest option.
I am very impressed with the high quality and very low cost, and expect to continue doing business with iTead Studio for a long time.