Low-cost circuit boards were once an oxymoron; today, the World Wide Web is crammed full of manufacturers claiming to produce the greatest number of PCBs for the least amount of money. While this new paradigm has been a boon for hobbyists and others seeking prototype circuit boards, the quality of the manufacturing process has suffered accordingly. Bear in mind that there are still a few companies that have found an equilibrium between circuit board pricing and quality. Click here to learn more about PCB layout.
Low-cost circuit boards were made possible by the advent of computer-aided manufacturing, along with free PCB layout software. These innovations have opened the door for streamlined assembly processes, which has enabled manufacturers to offer Quickturn PCB which allows for much quicker fabrication and delivery. Of course, the more complex the board and the greater the number of layers, the more expensive it is to manufacture. Click here for more information on PCB layout.
Shortly after the turn of the century a manufacturer called Advanced Circuits launched this trend of inexpensive PCBs into full swing when they started selling PCBs for $33. After that, everyone from students, to hobbyists, to professionals had fast and easy access to prototype PCBs. One more thing Advanced Circuits was responsible for was online ordering process and order tracking. With the advent of those conveniences, less costly boards became more readily accessible, and the costs of manufacturing PCBs were greatly reduced. For more PCB layout info, click here.
Now that there is free PCB layout software out there such as PCB Artist, everyone who wants to design a circuit board can do so. Any costs outside of the PCB fabrication fees would be for additional board components. For people wanting to shop around before purchasing a PCB, there are calculator applications where designers can enter the size and quantity of the circuit board and receive a list of estimates from a handful of companies. When looking at circuit board manufacturers, make sure to find one that offers a quality product in realation to its price.