JLCPCB soon to do cheap assembly

I figure this will be of interest to a few here.

JLCPCB which is one of the large pool pcb prototype service suppliers in China have been running a unique SMD assembly service internal to China. They’re advertising this as coming soon to the rest of the world, and some enquiries said it was going to be last month, so should be soon.

Essentially they have a heap of P&P machines lined up end to end with a bunch of stock parts loaded (some have suggested 20 machines), you order the boards with parts from their standard library and as the panel comes out of the fab it then goes through their assembly line. They have a much larger library you can order from, but you have to pay and extra fee for each additional part.

This kind of pools the assembly cost as well. So on their website at the moment it’s a min charge of just over $10USD + 0.003 per joint with a 24hr additional time to the PCB fab. The turn time is pretty much unheard of from other suppliers at the moment and what has me really interested.

To put this in perspective, it normally costs me the PCB fab cost + $8USD for a stencil + maybe an extra $10USD freight due to the shape of the stencil and packing. So for less than the cost of buying a stencil, we’ll be able to order PCBs already assembled (or at least all the jellybean parts.)

This has probably just made building a P&P machine pretty much redundant!

https://jlcpcb.com/smt-assembly

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If they’ve come up with a true turnkey solution I’ll have to try them out for the next boards I order. I’m guessing their part library will be fairly extensive, but designing around certain limitations hardly sounds like a big deal. I’m sure it’ll end up being cheaper time-wise than doing it all by hand.
There’s a couple of rather eccentric parts some of my designs call for, but getting 95% of the hard work done for me and me only putting on two or so components by hand sounds far simpler than doing it all from scratch.
This might finally convince me to give JLPCB a try, thanks!

https://jlcpcb.com/video/jlcsmt_parts_library.xls

But that’s exactly what we currently do with every design, so how is it any different?

It’s the same as currently choosing to keep a design within the manufacturing limitations of a certain cost bracket of PCB, or that I tend to only choose parts that are in-stock with digikey and at least one other mainstream supplier.

If other PCB manufacturers start a similar service I can see this being as much of a game changer as when itead launched the $10 for qty 10, 10x10cm PCBs. The price was unheard of and within a few months everyone I knew the industry was using it.

Obviously we’ll see in time how this pans out, as they still haven’t started the service on their English site.

Nah, last time I designed a board, I sent it off for tape out before I’d even finished ordering the components
A mistake I soon learned not to repeat again.

Now that just sounds far too sensible to possible work out.

In all seriousness, in the past there’s been the occasional thing here and there that’s had me hunting down chips through all corners of the internet, but just hand-soldering or reflowing the one or two specialty components shouldn’t be anywhere near as troublesome as building the whole thing from scratch yourself.

If this does offer a service as good as it seems on paper, then I have no doubt this’ll revolutionise the hobbyist electronics industry when it eventually launches. There’s always been a big gap between finishing your design in whatever layout program you use and having a functional board in your hand, I’d argue going from design to working board can be more of a chore than the design itself in some cases, depending on circumstance.
If this is able to totally close that gap in an economic manner, then it’ll do for PCB design what 3D printing did for 3D CAD modeling.
I know services like this have existed since time immemorial, but to do so at JLCPCB prices, that’s something amazing.

Wait a sec, they only offer green solder mask!
Oh well, I guess it was worth a look. Maybe next time…

I had that though when I saw they wouldn’t assembly 6 layer! Then I got over myself :slight_smile:

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