I’ve built a website, PCBShopper.com, that lets you quickly and easily compare prices from several different printed circuit board manufacturers.
Every time I design a printed circuit board for one of my projects, I spend an inordinate amount of time shopping around for the best deal on manufacturing it. Finding a single low-cost manufacturer and using them all the time doesn’t work: a company that has the lowest price on a 1″×1″ board may not have the lowest price on a 5″×5″ board.
To help myself and others, I’ve created PCBShopper.com to do the shopping automatically. Just enter the board size, layers, preferred color, and quantity, and you’ll get a list of manufacturers with prices (including shipping to the US).
The site also has a page with a list of free CAD software. For both PCB manufacturers and CAD programs, there’s a place for users to write their own reviews, Amazon-style.
Finally, it has a phpBB site with forums for discussing manufacturers and CAD programs. Sanuja Senanayake has a very helpful post describing how to make a phpBB site look like it’s tightly integrated with the rest of your web site.
I was inspired by LadyAda, which has a PCB price calculator. But it appears not to have been updated since 2007. I hope to keep PCBShopper.com up to date and add more manufacturers to it as time goes on.
Here’s an example of a price comparison. I’ve searched for prices for 5 copies of a 2 layer, 2″×2″ board with a blue solder mask. The results appear in a table and can be sorted by any of the columns. Some of the results show bigger boards and more copies, like Elecrow’s offer of 10 copies of a 3.9″×3.9″ board. That’s because those companies charge the same amount for the larger board and more copies, as they do for the size and copies I entered. I can still get my 2″×2″ board from them, but I could also make it bigger (perhaps fitting more circuits onto it for use in other projects) without paying extra.
Some of the companies don’t offer blue solder masks. Those companies still get listed, but with a warning symbol next to the solder mask color they offer. Solder mask color is usually a preference, not a requirement, so depending on the price, you might be willing to forgo your preference. (In the example, the manufacturers providing blue boards are cheaper than those providing other colors, but that’s not always the case.)
I hope you’ll find this new site useful. Tell all your (techie) friends!