Outsource your Electronic Board Assembly Prototype with PCBWay

StudentCompanion UNO

Outsource your Electronic Board Assembly Prototype with PCBWay

Whether you are a small business, a maker, a startup entrepreneur with this fantastic idea to build an electronic device that will change the world or even an established large business, sooner or later you’ll realized that you might need to outsource your printed circuit board assembly (PCBA).

PCBA and perhaps customized enclosure manufacturing are usually the inevitable and safest options  in outsourcing electronics manufacturing.

You might not be an expert in this field or as a startup, you might not have the means to invest in production lines and equipment. You might want to free up more time to focus on designing, marketing and selling your product and outsource the manufacturing to a specialized company.

This is a no-brainer, we have seen almost all big electronic companies are now manufacturing their products in China. In the past decade, Shenzhen in China has been the world’s center for R&D and manufacturing.

There are many companies that can offer you this service but picking the right partner can determine the success of your product or massive loss.  It is important to consider your choices carefully, especially if you are new to the world of printed circuit board manufacturing. In this article we will give you some hints of what to consider when selecting a partner and why you can consider PCBWay for your PCBA Prototypes.

Why PCBWay?

Small-run Orders

The first batch of any project will likely be of small quantity and only after you have tested successfully everything and you are happy it performs all its functions as required then you can order boards at high quantity.

Not all companies are interested in small-run orders, they will charge you at higher rate for small-run orders. This can hit hard your pocket especially for startups.

PCBWay.com  specializes in building short-run, one-off and prototype PCB assembly with rapid turnaround and instant online quoting and ordering. No matter how small is your order, you can still get a reasonable quotation.

They are currently running a promotion, with only $88 USD, you can get 1-10pcs assembly with free stencil and free worldwide shipping! Depending on where you live, this can save you more then $35 USD shipping cost.

PCBWay Worldwide Free Shipping for PCBA

Figure 1: PCBWay Worldwide Free Shipping for PCBA Promotion


You can not just take chances with any company to assemble your boards, and if your board is very complex with many layers, you’ll want a company that has the capabilities to deliver. The list of their capabilities is very long, here are a few we have selected:

  • Parts Source: Depending on your need, you can either choose Consigned/kitted, Turn-key or Partial Turn-key/Combo. To avoid misunderstanding and to take full control of your device and the quality of components used, you can supply them with all the components with your BOM file. This is called Consigned/kitted. If you are not sure where to source components or want complete freedom in the manufacturing process, you can use their wide network of component suppliers. They do not mark up on the parts cost and I remember receiving emails for approvals before purchasing any component. This is called Turn-key. You can also mix with Partial Turn-key/Combo where you supply the main components and they source the rest for you.
  • Assembly Options: Surface Mount (SMT), Thru-Hole (THT) and hybrid of both. They also offer single or double-sided placement.
  • Stencils: They use laser cut stainless steel stencils to ensure high reliability for fine pitch and BGA components. Nano coating is available upon request.
  • Component Package: They accept parts in Reels, Cut Tape, Tube & Tray, Loose Parts and Bulk.
  • Board Dimension: Min Board Size: 50 mm x 100 mm (Boards smaller than this size need to be panelized)
    Max Board Size: 250 mm x 500 mm

For a full list and more details of their capabilities, please read the page: PCBWay PCBA Capabilities


The quality of your boards is what will set you aside form competitors. You can tap into their years of experience in PCB Assembly services and their quality control.

We built our first Arduino UNO clone, StudentCompanion UNO with PCBWay.com , they sourced all the components, and every thing  was done as designed. Figure 1 and 2 below shows StudentCompanion UNO assembled by PCBWay.com.

StudentCompanion UNOFigure 2: StudentCompanion UNO assembled by PCBWay.com

Component placement and alignment seems to be perfect and that is to be expected from a good quality pick and place process. The through hole components were probably hand soldered, that is the usual process with small volume runs. But look at the solder joints on figure 3 below, they look perfect. We were satisfied wit the overall quality of the boards.

StudentCompanion UNO Back sideFigure 3: StudentCompanion UNO Back side

24 hours Customer Service

One of the most frustrating experience is customer service. When you choose a partner, you need to be confident that they will be able to support you when need arises, they should be able to answer you emails on time and understand your language. International cooperation can be a challenge due to time zone differences and communication barriers. With PCBWay, I was kind impressed with their customer service, even when I had problem with the courier company, they tried their best to intervene. Whenever you have any problems, you can always reach a live customer service person to respond to your emails or messages. Their service people will follow your orders from the time you submit your Gerber file to the minute you receive your boards.

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