Community PCB service produces amazingly high-quality results.
If you've been working on a few prototypes in your free time, you've probably needed to make a printed circuit board (PCB) at some point. For many, the gap between a breadboard prototype and a minimum order of PCBs is wide. While you can always etch your own, there are other options for getting extremely high quality for a very low price.
OSHPark.com is a service that does exactly this -- get a few PCBs made for really cheap. Easily identified by the bright purple PCBs, OSHPark boards are showing up in more and more projects around the web.
How the service works
According to OSHPark's website, the service is "a community printed circuit board (PCB) order. We take designs from lots of people, put them all together on a panel and then order the panel from a fab." By pooling the orders from the community, OSHPark keeps the fab costs down.
Several options are available through OSHPark:
- Standard two-layer: $5 per square inch (you get three copies of your board). These orders go in two to three times per week, and the turn-around time is about 12 days, so you can get this done really quickly.
- Four-layer PCB: $10 per square inch (you get three copies of your board). These orders are placed less frequently at once every month with about a 14-day turn-around time.
- You can also run a "medium run" order, which is only $1 per square inch, but you have to run a 150-square-inch minimum. These have to be custom ordered by contacting OSHPark though.
Specifications of the boards are as follows:
- All two boards are FR4 170Tg/290Td, which are suitable for lead-free processes and temperature. Four layer boards are now FR408 (180Tg).
- They have ENIG (gold) finish for superior solderability and environmental resistance.
- They're 1.6-mm thick (0.063 inches) with 1-ounce copper on both sides. For four-layer boards, the internal copper is 0.5 ounce.
- The minimum specs are 6-mil traces with 6-mil spaces, and 13-mil drills with 7-mil annular rings.
- Internal cutouts are allowed and supported. Draw them on your board outline layer.
- Plated slots aren't supported.
One specification not listed here: These boards are manufactured in the US.
If you're going to use the service, check out the design specifications to ensure you get the quality you want. We would also love to hear about your experiences with the service. So far, the feedback I've heard has been nothing but positive.