Purple vs Red
Purple versus Red
I am doing an interesting test. Tonight I fabbed out 3 1″x1″ designs to OSH-Park and ITEAD Studio simultaneously. So far, I have only used OSH-Park, but I heard good things about ITEAD Studio – and for reasons I hope to talk about later – they make different colored PCBs an option ( OSH-Park is Purple only ). For this new design I am wanting red PCBs for the final proto’s – so I’m giving ITEAD Studio a try.
Flow Comparison: I definitely prefer OSH-Park, with OSH-Park, you upload a single ZIP file of Gerbers and Excellon files and they render all the layers on the website for review before you purchase. For ITEAD Studio you pay 1st ( Paypal ) and then after you pay, you upload your ZIP ( I used the exact same ZIP ) and they tell you if they accepted it or not. Not exactly a warm and fuzzy feeling – but this is a test after all.
OSH-Park : $5 per square inch. 3 Pcs. Free Shipping. Turnaround is 2 weeks.
ITEAD Studio : $10 per 5cm x 5cm ( about 2″x2″ ) – $15 for Red, 10 pcs. Shipping is either $10 China Post or $25 DHL. I’m going with DHL on this experiment. Will try China Post next time.
First thoughts. OSH-Park I get the boards for basically $2 each. With ITEAD Studio I get the boards for about $2 each, I just get a lot more ( 30 total vs 9 total ). ITEAD pricing is definitely better for larger size boards. I tend to do a lot of 1″x1″ or smaller designs – where OSH-Park rules.
Check back in 2 weeks….
02.20.2015 Update : OSH-Park PCBs arrived in their friendly purple envelope today. Just about 2weeks from design upload to arriving in my mailbox. My ITEAD Studio upload are still “PCBs are in producing using this Gerber file”. Hoping this wasn’t a waste of money. Will wait a couple more weeks and then assemble the purple boards if the red ones don’t show up.
Ran across a great interview of James Neal ( Laen ) – founder of OSH-Park. Worth a read! He uses two Fabs, one in Chicago, one in Texas. I uploaded a picture of an OSH-Park panel. You can tell how Laen really maximizes panel area with his gerber fitting algorithm to squeeze as many designs as possible into a single panel. Everybody else panelizes with simple rectangular dimensions with a lot more FR4 waste.
02.27.2015 Update : Just received eMail from ITEAD that my boards have shipped. Received DHL Tracking Number. 20 days from upload to shipment.
03.02.2015 Update : I received my red boards from ITEAD today. They were in Los Angeles going through customs on Friday ( 02.28.2015 ) and I received an automated phone call from DHL yesterday ( 03.01.2015 ) that they would be delivered today and would require a signature unless I left a signed note to leave them ( which I did ).
Now To Compare:
ITEAD scores plusses for shipping as they left China on Friday morning and arrived on my doorstep Monday morning, not bad for $25 via DHL. I ordered 10 pcs of Max 5x5cm for a design 23x23mm and received 16 pcs total for $15 ( red was +$5 extra over green ). The groups of 16 were shrink wrapped tight together. The OSH-Park PCBs float around loose in a larger mailer – so this is definitely less susceptible to shipping damage.
OSH-Park scores plusses for fast turn-around. 2wks vs 4kws for boards.
OSH-Park scores plusses for an ENIG (gold) finish versus ITEAD’s HASL (solder) finish. ITEAD offers ENIG, but for an extra $20.
With the exception of silkscreen – PCB quality appears to be great for both. The OSH-Park boards I have to dike off and file down the snap bridges – which is fine for a couple of PCBs, would get old for doing a dozen. Silkscreen on the ITEAD boards looks terrible. I think they use an inkjet printer instead of stencils. Very blocky. They also stamp a fab ID number on the backside of each board. I didn’t care for that. See above picture of side by side of the two identical boards. That “298-217789” – I didn’t put that there – ITEAD did. Makes me wonder if OSH-Park doesn’t use machine vision for PCB sorting prior to shipping.
I just noticed that somebody else did an OSH-Park to ITEAD comparison. They have much more detailed data – See this blog site .
In conclusion – OSH-Park I prefer for very small prototype boards with fast turn around. ITEAD I would chose for larger boards especially if I wanted any kind of quantity. Too bad about the silkscreen however.