PCBWay: More Than PCB Manufacturing
December 01, 2021
PCBs are still the best and most reliable way of connecting electronics components. PCB stands for Printed Circuit Board, on which electronic components are soldered on pads connected by conductive lines. PCB manufacturing technology continues to evolve as requirements of miniaturization, reliability, and flexibility grow. They come in different shapes, colors, use different base materials, and can even be flexible.
PCBs are still “printed,” but the technology goes beyond just the printing process to include multiple equally important steps. PCB manufacturers must therefore adapt to new trends and offer the best services technology can provide.
PCBWay is a Chinese-based PCB manufacturing company that manufactures more than 2100 PCBs daily that are distributed worldwide. They offer a broad spectrum of PCB prototyping, assembly, design, and CNC/3D printing services across five factories that are staffed by more than 520 employees.
By investing in new equipment, quality control, and user support, PCBWay provides top-notch services at very competitive prices. The company stands out with its support for a broad spectrum of technologies and user-friendly website, but most of all through its strong community support.
PCBWay: From Prototype to Assembly to Product
PCBWay provides everything needed to take electronics projects from start to finish, while more than 70 on-staff professionals ensure zero-defect quality assurance and timely delivery. The company sources materials from well-known brands, and maintains ISO 9001 and UL certification to streamline their customers’ path to commercial products.
The process of creating such products usually begins with PCB prototyping. As one of their most popular services, there is virtually no limit to the size, shape, and complexity of PCBs the company can create, allowing you to tweak board parameters to include different base materials, thicknesses and number of layers, silkscreen colors and solder masks, surface finishes, and so on.
The primary base materials PCBWay works with include:
- Rigid PCBs – These high-tech, high-quality boards are based on HDI/Rogers/High-Tg technologies and usually reserved for high-frequency electronics, automotive subsystems, and other demanding applications.
- Aluminum PCBs – With two types of aluminum PCBs – central and base core – PCBWay customers can choose between greater power dissipation properties or higher mechanical stability of a material.
- Copper PCBs – An aluminum base can be substituted with copper for better thermal performance and other specific properties but at a higher price point.
- Flexible PCB – Flex PCBs can be used in smartphones, cameras, and nonstandard portable devices or miniature electronics. You can squeeze them into tight spaces, bend, and wrap them to eliminate enclosure constraints.
- Rigid-Flex PCB – This technology joins flexible and rigid PCBs into a single unit without additional connections between them. Manufacturing becomes easier and cheaper while having the benefits of both technologies.
These can be manufactured with more than 10 layers per board and traces as small as 4 mm, drill sizes as small as 0.2 mm, and minimum plated hole sizes of just 0.6 mm. Consultations with PCBWay can lead to solutions that push these limits even further.
Another vital step in the PCBWay process is the company’s assembly service, which is critical after prototyping. Assembly includes applying solder paste via stencils, placing components, and of course soldering. It is a labor-intensive process as it usually involves placing hundreds of small SMT components on the PCB surface, and is therefore performed by a machine.
PCBWay can supply all the necessary parts and owns all the equipment required to implement and automate a high-quality, high-reliability assembly process for your project. However, they also provide you with the option of providing some or all of your own components as well, which is great if your design includes rare or unique parts that need special attention. Otherwise it is best to go with the turnkey option.
The assembly service can be initiated through an online form that allows you to select the supply quantity, board type, number of unique SMT pads, and thru-holes. It also contains fields in which you can provide additional information and detail about your request that will streamline the assembly process.
After submitting the necessary information you get an instant quote broken down into distinct manufacturing and shipping costs. Non-complex PCB prototypes can cost as little as $5 and PCB assembly can be as low as $30 (without parts).
Turnaround can be as little as a couple of days, with one day for prototyping and another for assembly, then shipping.
PCBWay offers different shipping methods depending on the destination country, and the cost varies across carriers like DHL, FedEx, China Post, UPS, and others. Various payment methods are accepted, including PayPal, Western Union, VISA, and Direct Bank Transfer.
PCBWay also offers fast system prototyping services for enclosures and other nonstandard mechanical parts needed for a finished product. They support four fast prototyping methods:
- CNC Machining – This robust technique leverages milling and turning so that multiple parts can be produced quickly once CAD files are prepared and loaded.
- Sheet Metal Fabrication – They have to prepare press and cutting forms according to CAD files, and then there is no limit on how many parts to make. The process is rapid once set up. Finished products can be finished using anodizing, plating, powder coating, and painting.
- 3D Printing – PCBWay’s 3D printing techniques differ based on the materials used, but center around focused deposition modeling (FDM), selective layer sintering (SLS), and stereo lithography apparatus (SLA).
- Injection Molding – This involves manufacturing parts, often enclosures, by pressing hot plastic into molds to achieve high precision over large volumes complex parts.
Accelerate Production through a User-Friendly Website
As has already been demonstrated, the PCBWay website is well designed and convenient. The front page clearly states the available services, how much they cost, and how they work, and can be used to access order status and progress information.
Another popular tool on the PCBWay site is a directory of the most common PCBs, pricing by volume estimates, and other parameters that are available in an easy-to-read chart. This permits, for example, buyers to loosely gauge how much it would cost to order 100 two-layer PCBs or 500 aluminum boards.
Each service has its place on the intuitive website but can still be accessed easily from the main webpage. Once on the service of your choice, the instant quote calculator can provide a barometer of your project costs and direct you to a more formal ordering form that’s used to request a formal, detailed quote.
The PCBWay site’s main ordering page is in English, but Russian, Spanish, French, and Japanese sites are also available that have been professionally translated.
Strong Community: Go Farther Together
PCBWay has surrounded itself with a strong community comprised of more than a quarter-million registered users who contribute and, in the same way, benefit from being a so-called “PCBWayer.” Projects can be shared with the community, and the platform even allows you to apply for sponsorship and crowdfunding from other members. To date, PCBWayers have already sponsored more than 23000 schools, open source projects, and events, conferences, and tradeshows like Maker Faire.
PCBWay also organizes shopping festivals, giveaways, and sales for members that nets participants prizes, cash rewards, and discounts. To become a community member, all you have to do is register. After completing that step, you’re free to start using services and will receive a discount coupon that can be used in your first order.
Since the PCB manufacturing market is very competitive, potential customers should do a thorough search for the best combination of quality, price, delivery time, and customer support. PCBWay excels across all these parameters, whether you need a single small PCB or a complex, multi-layer Rigid or Flexible PCB.
To see the results for yourself, go to www.pcbway.com and start building a quote for your next project.