Getting PCBs Fabricated

In recent years it has become painfully cheap for hobyists to have PCB's manufactured for them at real PCB Fabs. The cheap prototyping service was spearheaded by the likes of Dirty PCB's and OSHPark but now the Chinese factories have got in on the act, they often offer 10 copies of up to 100x100mm boards for as little as $2 (plus delivery) and with courier shipping can arrive in under a week.


Services used successfully by members include:

  • OSHPark - (cost directly dependant on board size. generally more expensive but good value for very small boards)
  • DirtyPCBs
  • PCBWay - A good range of facilities
  • AllPCB - Sometimes have good value offers on courier shipping, leading to delivery times of under a week)
  • JLCPCB (combined with their components supply company LCSC, can also do low cost board assembly)
  • Elecrow

This list is by no means exhaustive and the landscape changes quickly so keep an eye on PCBShopper and the reviews for each vendor. for instance AllPCB seems to have a "Quote Low, ramp up price after ordering" problem but for simple boards seem to be consistent.


The discussion of Design rules is mostly out of the scope of this page but most EDA packages default to rules that are within the tolerance of most Fab's cheap service (usually 6/6 whcih is 6 mil minimum trace width and 6 mil minimum space between traces), but be aware that each fab will have it's own design rules and your EDA should be set to comply with them or your board may get rejected or have a surcharge applied. if you want to know more about design rules, ask on the google groups list or in Slack #electronics channel.

The process is fairly consistent between the vendors.

Export PCB files

Once you have your PCB designed in your EDA of choice you need to export Gerber files. [TODO: Screenshots for KiCad, Eagle, Easy EDA] (The main notable exception to this is OSHPark, which will accept a KiCAD or eagle PCB file) Your gerber files will be created in a folder (or zip file) with all the seperate files that fab needs.

Submit files to Fab


OSHPark has a very straightforward service which takes care of most of the options. You simply drag your zip or PCB file into their uploader and it will generate an instant quote based on $5 per square inch, Purple, 1.6mm thickness, 1oz copper, Gold (ENIG) surface coated, 2 layer (delivery is free.) You can further choose to have half-thickness boards (0.8mm), Flexible PCB, higher volume runs and super speedy fabrication for (usually) added cost. Typical lead time is 2 to 3 weeks shipped from USA via regular post.

China Fabs

[TODO: China fab options] Chinese Fabs differ slightly between them however the format is broadly similar in that you are presented with a screen of options about your board. Once you've selected the options you upload the gerber files and wait for verification of the design. Lead time can be anything from a few days to several weeks depending on options, fabrication priority and delivery method


The hardest part! Now is the time to make sure you have all the components for your project. If ordering from JLC, you can combine components from LCSC with your order and they all arrive in one package. Other places to source components are RS, Farnell, Mouser and Digikey. Maplin is no more, and we have a limited amount of basic through hole and SMD parts available for use by members. There is no catalog so don't rely on there being parts for your project available. Please make a suitable donation if significant numbers of these parts are used.

Most of the China fabs have a process indicator which shows exactly where your boards are in the fabrication process.


Your first boards will almost certainly have a mistake in them, one that you realise only once the boards are in transit... To avoid this, check the preview generated by the Fab and your EDA VERY CAREFULLY also ask in Slack #electronics channel or on the mailing list if someone can help review your design.

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