What does PCB Fab Express do? What are your PCB and Assembly capabilities?
PCB FAB EXPRESS provides the best value in 2 to 8 layer prototype Printed Circuit Boards and Assembly for 1 day turn time thru 3 week turn time.
We partner with well-regarded ISO 9001:2008 certified US based PCB manufacturers and Assemblers to provide you outstanding quality at low prices. While we do most of our business though our website, we do provide custom quotes for sophisticated requirements that do not
meet our standard online specs. We also
provide custom quotes for production quantities
through our relationships with PCB
manufacturers and Assembly companies in Asia.
PCB Capabilities :
Online PCB Specials
These provide super low prices for
- 2 to 6 layers
- Prototype quantities only (1 thru 100 pieces)
- 2 day turn, 3 day turn, 5 day turn and 10 day turn
- Minimum 4 mil trace/space allowed
- Minimum hole size of 8 mils allowed
- FR4 material, .062" thick
- Optional: Design Rule Check & Netlist Testing
- 2 to 8 layers
- Prototype quantities only (1 thru 100 pieces)
- 2 day turn, 3 day turn, 4 day turn, 5 day turn and 10 day turn
- Minimum 4 mil trace/space allowed
- Minimum hole size of 6 mils allowed
- FR4, FR4-06, Polyimide, FR4-Lead Free Standard materials
- Finished Thickness 0.125", 0.93", 0.062" and 0.031" allowed
- Electrical 100% Net-list testing
Custom quoted PCBs
These provide standard (but competitive) pricing for
- 2 to 22 layers
- Prototype or production quantities
- 1 day turn time thru 3 week turn time
- As small as 1.25 mils trace width & spacing
- FR4,Rogers 4003 & other special material
- All kinds of custom thicknesses available
- Blind and buried vias
- Other complex technologies (just ask us!)
- Full Design Rule Check & Netlist Testing
PCB Assembly Capabilities
- 1 day turn time through 10 day turn time.
- Surface Mount and Through-hole
- Both side Components
- Fine pitch components
- BGAs and microBGAs, with X Ray inspection
- Assembly Testing
Please tell me more about your Standard PCB prototypes.
Our Standard PCBs are 2 to 6 layer PCBs with Mask and Legend, made to your specifications at amazingly low prices.
Briefly, the board specs allowed in this online promotion are: FR4 material, 0.062 inches thick (+/- 10% tolerance), 0.004 inches
(4 mils) minimum trace/space, and 8 mils minimum hole size. We include Mask and Legend in the price. And we waive all tooling
charges. The turn time options available are 2 days, 3 days, 5 days and 10 days. You can also see more detailed specifications here.
We also tell you what are the most common mistakes to avoid when ordering our Standard PCB prototypes.
All orders have to be placed online with payment strictly by credit card
After you place your online order, we expect you to email us your design files in Gerber 274X format.
What if my board specifications do not meet your online specials, or what if I want faster turn-times than you offer online? How do I get a quote?
We find that a vast majority of our customers can easily use our Standard PCB or Bare PCB promotions online. If your board does not fit the specifications of those fantastic online specials or if you want fast 24 hour turn time etc, then we will happily get you a custom quote here.
Your custom quote will be sent as soon as possible (generally within 2 hours).
I am new to PCB prototyping, how can PCBFABExpress help?
We encourage our users to review our "New to PCB Prototyping" section for tips and pointers on getting started in this industry. Additionally you can visit our Glossary section.
Does PCB Fab Express do business with PCB buyers and designers outside USA also?
Apart from customers in USA, we serve customers in many countries including Italy, France, New Zealand, Denmark, Malaysia, India etc. We send boards to them by FedEx International.
How can PCB Fab Express offer such low prices?
For our lowest priced PCBs we go the extra mile to get cost-benefits for you. Like most of our competitors in the low priced PCB market, we panelize your data with data from other orders to reduce panel costs. We have proprietary software that enables us to do this panelization quickly and easily. Our Engineering department is a network of engineers working out of their home-offices over fast and secure VPN connections.
This allows us to reduce our fixed costs. We have close relationships with well-regarded vendors to use their excess capacity to make our PCBs at low prices. All this effort results in low price per panel and we pass on all the savings to you!
What is your guarantee? What if I am not satisfied with the boards I receive?
Our prototype PCBs are made in ISO 9001:2008 certified facilities and are manufactured to IPC-A-600F Class 2 specifications and guidelines.
Although we aggressively cut costs to benefit you, we never compromise on quality. We stand behind the boards we make and are committed to your satisfaction. If your printed circuit boards are not made to your specifications, we will remake them immediately. On your part, you can help us by making sure the data you provide is accurate, complete, and contains no discrepancy in information.
Please note: We have essentially two kinds of "products": either simple online specials, or custom quoted jobs (generally more complex)
For online specials we make exactly what you give us. We do not open the Gerber files to do a design rule check (DRC) unless you specifically ask and pay for it. In other words, if you order an online special, you get fantastic low prices, but whatever you design is what you get.
For custom quoted jobs, we always do a full design rule check to catch mistakes (for example does your design lead to solder mask in vias etc). Custom quoted jobs are also fully electrically tested.
What are typically the specifications that my PCB design needs to conform to so that I take advantage of your great online prices?
Click here to see the typical specifications needed for 2 to 6 layer boards. When you are placing an order online we will again show you such specifications and at that time you must ensure that your boards meet those specifications. Of course, if your boards are very different from these specifications, you can ask us to get you a custom quote.
How can I make sure my job is not put on hold? What are the most common mistakes that I can avoid?
Getting your order to you on time is a shared responsibility. We will use ISO 9001:2008 facilities to manufacture to the specs you provide and to ship your boards on time. And you can do your part by avoiding some common pitfalls:
- Make sure none of the files you send us are corrupt.
- Make sure Fabrication Print is provided and it is not missing any of the following:
Also ensure that:
- Material type and finished thickness of the board.
- Finished copper weight
- Board dimensions and outline
- Cut outs or slots information (if cutouts & slots are allowed in the product you are buying; check the product specs)
- Board Construction information
- There are no discrepancies between Gerber data and Fabrication Print.
In our Online Specials while we generally expect rectangular boards, we will allow rounder corners (minimum 25 mil radius). Note that at least ONE corner must be a 90 degree corner.We also allow up to 8 Notches (as long as they are atleast 50 mils wide and 50 mils deep). We also allow chamfered corners (at 45 degrees). See some examples of outlines here. We reserve the right to reject very complex outlines.(For custom quoted jobs, of course, there are no restrictions on outlines.)
- Drill file is not missing and Drill file is Excellon format
- There are no Missing holes
- Plated and Non-Plated holes are clearly defined. Please check our product definition page when you are placing an order. The maximum size of plated holes allowed is 246 mils and the maximum size for non-plated holes is 250 mils.
- For multilayer boards, on the inner layers, please make sure the edge of hole to edge of another hole is minimum 16 mils, and edge of hole to trace is minimum 10 mils. See details/pictures/examples here. (This is applicable to online specials only, not for custom quoted jobs.)
- To get our most aggressive pricing, please ensure all holes in your design are Plated holes. If you have any Non-Plated holes there will be an extra $50 charge on your order. Also make sure your non-plated holes follow the "2 Rules for Non-Plated Holes" mentioned below in this FAQ. (This is applicable to online specials only, not for custom quoted jobs.)
- For plated holes, the Annular Ring should be AT LEAST 5 mils wide. For example: If your finished hole size is 125 mils diameter, with annular ring, the pad diameter should be AT LEAST 135 mils (which is, 125 + 5*2 ). (This is applicable to online specials only, not for custom quoted jobs.)
- Aperture list is provided.
- Gerber files are scaled one to one.
- Thermal connections are not missing on plane layers.
- All board construction notes are on the Fabrication Drawing. Your board construction notes should not be scattered around in multiple documents. We are liable for the board construction notes on the Fabrication Drawings only.
We expect files to be in positive format
, except if it is an INNER layer that is a plane layer we prefer Negative format
we have this requirement. For our online promotions, we EXPECT ONLY ONE FILE per layer. In other word, we DO NOT accept composite layer files. However mixed layer files
A) Positive polarity file:This is a layer representation where what is seen on the screen is what is plotted and there is no reversal of form. Pads will be plotted as is and the empty spaces remain as empty after plotting. We require that Outer layer files ALWAYS be shown in positive polarity.
B) Negative polarity file: What is seen on the screen is plotted inversely. Whatever is viewed as solid is plotted as clearances, and the empty spaces will be flooded with copper after we plot. We *prefer* INNER PLANE LAYER files in this form.
C) Mixed layers: Solid Ground/Copper fill and the Pads and or Traces are on the same layer. One single file contains all the data (Copper pour, pads and traces) for a layer. These files should be in positive polarity.
D) Composite layers: When the merging of two different files results in the required layer, we call such a layer a composite layer. The two different files can be of two different polarities. For Example:- The design has files with following extensions: *.topneg, *.toppos, *.smtop & so on. The customer expects that we take this set of files and merge *.topneg and *.toppos resulting in top copper layer file.
For PCBFABEXPRESS ONLINE promotions we strictly require only one file per layer or in other words, for our ONLINE promotions, we DO NOT ACCEPT COMPOSITE LAYERS. However, for Custom Quoted jobs we do accept composite layers.
Why do we prefer inner Plane Layers in Negative Format?
While we generally expect positive format for all layers, if any Inner Layer is a Plane layer, we need you to provide that layer in negative format for the following reasons:
- Negative layers, in many cases, are not as large of a file size as positive layer files.
- Negative layers are much quicker to work with when we run our Engineering Analysis
What is a Negative Plane Layer?
This is the representation of a plane layer in your CAD software, where the background represents copper and the colors in the plane layer represent non-metal areas. (Generally for all other layers, you would want the color to represent the copper traces (ie Positive Format) -- it is only for INNER PLANE layers that we need this negative format). Most CAD software these days by default automatically output INNER PLANE LAYER data in negative format. But please make sure your files are in this format before you send them to us.
What is Multiple Parts? How do you charge for it?
On our internet specials, we typically expect the design you submit to have a single image of a single PCB. Sometimes, customers submit multiple PCB designs in one image. We call this Multiple Parts. In such cases we will route out the whole part as one and customers are responsible for splitting apart the individual multiple parts themselves.
Also, we have a small extra charge for any such designs which have multiple designs inside.The charge is $20 for each extra part.
Example: if we find there are 3 parts in a single image in your design, then that means 2 extra parts-- and the charge is $20 X 2 = $40, added to order total.
Again, this is applicable to our internet specials.
See some examples of what we consider multiple parts here.
Are there any special guidelines for non-plated holes?
We allow non-plated holes also. To help us make your non-plated holes correctly, please make sure your design follows the following two rules:
Rule (1) Non-plated holes must not exceed 250 mils (0.250 inches) in diameter.
Rule (2) There should be no copper any closer than 10 mils (.01 inches) to any non-plated hole.
What if my PCB prototype design does not meet the specs of the boards you offer online? How can I get a Custom Quote for such prototypes?
We can do highly sophisticated PCBs up to 22 layers with blind/buried vias, complex routes, quick turns etc. However these complex boards may not be offered for online ordering. If you find that our online special offers do not meet your needs, please request a customized quote at http://ecommerce.pcbfabexpress.com/custom-quote
Why should boards be electrically tested?
Electrical testing is mandatory for boards with MORE than 4 layers.
Although electrical testing is OPTIONAL for 2 AND 4 layer boards, we do highly recommend it. This is the only way for any PCB manufacturer to ensure the product shipped has zero shorts or opens.
Visual inspection can never be 100% effective. Especially, if the defect is under the solder mask, electrical test is the only way to catch it.
I see an "Electrical Test" option while placing an order. What does this do? What files do I need to provide to get my boards electrically tested?
When you select the Electrical Test option (DRC & Test) then the final PCB is tested using sophisticated flying probe testers to ensure that all the connection points on the electrical netlists are correct.
For the most stringent electrical test of your boards, please include an IPC Netlist in 356 format, in your gerber package. If you do not provide such an IPC Netlist, we will test using a Netlist that we generate from your gerber files.
What's the recommended thickness of line for PCB outline for routing?
10 mils is the standard thickness for the line marking the PCB outline.
Is routing done along the center of the outline?
What is the routing tools diameter?
Our standard routing bit diameter is 0.062 inches.
Do I have to account for the router bit diameter in my PCB design?
No, you just have to tell us the finished dimensions of your board. We internally do the adjustments for the router bit size, so that you get your required finished dimensions when we individually route out your boards.
What are the acceptable finished hole sized?
What should be shown in drill file: tool diameter or finished hole diameter?
Please provide finished hole diameter in your drill files.
What does 1 oz outer copper mean?
"1 ounce outer copper" is the most common finished copper specification for PCBs. To achieve this in the manufacturing process, we start with a 0.5 oz copper foil and plate 1 mil (0.001") in the hole. The outer layer then ends up at 2.1 mil (.0021") thick copper (excluding tolerance) and this is about 1.5 oz finished copper per square ft, commonly referred to in the industry as "1 oz outer copper".
Note: If you require 2 ounce outer copper, we start with 1 oz copper foil and plate 1 mil in the hole to give 2.8 mil thick outer copper which commonly translates to "2 oz outer copper". In general, there is no need for 2 oz outer copper unless you have very specific PCB applications that require it. (1 oz copper is all you need in the vast majority of designs). (In case of online specials we proceed with standard 1 oz copper in both inner and outer layers)
Do you do only top-side silkscreen or both sides?
We can ofcourse do silkscreen (legend) on both sides.
In the online specials, only top silkscreen is included. Bottom silkscreen is optional in the online specials for an additional charge of $50 to the order total.
What is the minimal thickness of line for legend text?
0.005" is minimum recommended trace for legend text.
What is the minimal size of letters on legend?
0.040" is the minimum recommended height.
What are your business hours?
Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 5:30 pm Pacific Time.
Please tell me more about 2 Layer Bare Bones PCBs.
In addition to our Standard PCB Prototypes, we now offer "Bare Bones PCBs". These are 2 Layer PCBs without Solder Mask or Legend. For some simple applications, or for high quantity requirements with tight budgets, such PCBs make perfect sense.
Our pricing for Bare Bones PCBs is based on Total square inches of all your boards. There is a lot charge of $40 and an additional charge of 60 cents per square inch. Example: for 30 pieces of a 1 inch X 3 inch PCB, the total area is 30 X (1X3) = 90 sq inches. The calculated price for this particular order is $40 + $0.60*90 = $94 (that is, a low price of only $3.13 per PCB).
Traditionally, PCBs with no soldermask or legend have been offered by companies that are based in Canada- often resulting in transit delays and paperwork-hassles due to US Customs. Now PCBFABEXPRESS provides you these boards faster, easier, and cheaper-- straight from Silicon Valley!
How do you calculate turnaround time?
Our order cut-off time each business day is 5:00 PM. We calculate the turn-time from the 5:00 PM cut-off time. For example: If your order and files come in on Wednesday anytime before 5:00 PM Pacific Time, then for a 4 day turn-time, the order will SHIP on next Tuesday evening. On a 5 day turn-time that order would ship on the next Wednesday evening.
What files do you need to manufacture my PCBs? Where should I send these files?
We need Gerber RS-274X or ODB++ file. Please make sure there are NO discrepancies in the information you provide. Drill file in excellon format and respective drill size and quantity information in Fabrication drawing or in text file.
After you place your order online you can upload your design file on website. Or you can send your files to email@example.com. Please ensure that your Order number (eg FXA0012CD23) shows on the subject line of your email.
Can I cancel my order?
Sorry, once your order is placed we immediately panelize it to start manufacturing. We cannot cancel your order. Full charges (except shipping and handling) will apply.
Can I use Purchase order or check?
For online orders we generally only accept credit cards (Visa/MasterCard/American Express). For offline (custom orders) we do set up credit terms and allow Purchase orders. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any such requirements.
My boards are for Resale in California. Can I avoid the California sales tax? use Purchase order or check?
- Boards shipping to California will generally be charged CA sales tax. (for any shipments outside California, there are no sales taxes)
- The following ONLY applies to shipments going to California address:
- If your boards are shipping to California address and are for Re-sale, then we will NOT charge you any CA sales tax, if you provide us a proper resale certificate.
- (if you have done so in previous orders, we may have it on file)
- Download a copy of blank resale certificate here. Download
- You must fill this, sign it, scan it and upload a softcopy when you place an order online.
- Or you may email the softcopy to email@example.com immediately after placing an order (be sure to specify which order it is for)
- Note that even if we have the copy of your re-sale certificate from previous orders, you are required to explicitly tell us for each order, whether or not that order is for re-sale.
- We are not allowed to simply assume that every order is for re-sale.
How do you ship the boards. What carrier do you use?
We ship using FedEx and UPS only. We also do local Driver delivery in a 20 miles radius around Sunnyvale, California.
Any disclaimers when I place an order?
We inform you of the following terms when you order online.
- PCB Fab Express reserves the right to reject or cancel any order. Please ensure that your PCB specifications fully match the product you are ordering.
- All charges are in US Dollars.
- Standard shipping prices are shown during the online order, but if your boards weigh more than 2 lbs, we may revise the shipping and handling charges.
- We build your PCBs in a high quality manufacturing plant. Relying on our quality processes, many customers order their boards without the (Design Rule Check and 100% Netlist Testing) option, and they are perfectly happy with the results. However, if you choose to not have DRC and Test, please understand that no manufacturer can guarantee defect free boards, particularly in multi-layer orders.
- As standard practice we may add a small PCB Fab Express logo / Order number on your manufactured circuit board. This is typically done with silkscreen and sometimes in copper. You have to explicitly let us know by email if you do NOT want a logo for any particular order (Extra charges may apply.)
I have more questions. Where can I reach you?
Please look at the contact us page on this website.
What are the shipping options available on PCBFABEXPRESS and what are the corresponding costs involved?
Shipping Options (for up to 2lb. package, which is typical)
FedEx First Overnight
FedEx 2nd Day
FedEx Standard Over Night
FedEx Priority Over Night
UPS Next Day AM
UPS Next Day
UPS Next Day Saturday Delivery
UPS Next Day Saver
UPS 2nd Day AM
UPS 2nd Day Delivery
UPS 3rd Day
UPS Ground (Give it a good 5-7 business days)
Components to ship on Assembled Boards
FedEx Saturday delivery
Will Call (for our local customers in San Francisco Bay Area)
Driver option (will only deliver within 20 miles from Sunnyvale office)
Ship PCBs to Sierra Assembly
(Select this option, if custom assembly required from PCB FAB EXP)
FedEx International to Mexico or Canada
FedEx International Economy
UPS International Express
Fedex Intl Priority Overnight
UPS International Saver
When will my boards ship if I place an online order today?
Click here to see shipment date
What is a sliver? How does it affect my PCBs?
What are Etch and Plating Resist Slivers?
Slivers refer to small sections or partials of dry film.
When processing printed circuit boards a dry film resist is used on the inner layers to define the areas of copper that are not to be etched from the panel. On the outer layers this same resist material is used as a plating resist. The major difference between the inner and outer layers is the polarity of the image after developing the dry film resist.
When processing inner layer images, the dry film etch resist is laminated to the core material. Dry film etch resist is laminated to the core material, exposed and then developed. After developing, only the resist needed to protect the copper image remains on the core material.
When processing outer layer images, the dry film resist is used as a plating resist to define the areas that will have additional plating added to the panels. After developing, the resist remaining on the panel will cover the copper that is to be etched away after the copper plating is completed. The plated copper is covered by tin which then acts as the etch resist.
How do dry film resist slivers affect your boards?
Any small partials of dry film resist have the potential of being lifted off the panel after developing and may re-deposit itself in an area where it could be detrimental to the end product. Such re-deposited resist slivers may cause shorts and/or opens on the end product. For this reason PCB FAB EXPRESS has established a minimum size of .006" by .006" for the dry film resist slivers for our standard web products.
What can you do to prevent dry film resist slivers?
When designing your board you should not have any areas that would result in small etching and/or plating resist slivers. Any features that result in small dry film resist slivers must be modified in your design to increase the amount of resist to aid in the adhesion of the resist to the laminate. If this is not practical the area may have to be filled to prevent the dry film resist slivers.
Why is DRC & Test recommended?
This is optional for 2 & 4 layer orders and mandatory for 6 layers or more.
We highly recommend DRC and testing on all boards because that is the only way any PCB manufacturer can ensure the product has zero shorts or opens. Especially, if the defect is under the solder mask, electrical test is the only way to catch it.
In other words:
If you choose not to DRC & Test your 2 or 4 layer boards, you assume the risk of shorts or opens. No PCB manufacturer can guarantee against shorts/opens if DRC & Test is not done.