You’ve probably seen the ads and sponsorships on YouTube from JLCPCB: $2 for 5 PCBs. Too good to be true right?
If you’re like me, you probably added the $2 promo to your cart, went to check out, and saw the whopping $17 shipping charge and it all makes sense: they overcharge you for shipping to offer an impossibly cheap prototyping cost. It’s understandable and perfectly forgivable, but I’m not falling for it. About a year ago, I abandoned my JLCPCB cart and went with my old standby: iTead PCB which is still my recommendation for most low-run PCBs under 5 cm x 5 cm (about 2 inches by 2 inches) with standard green solder mask.
However, for a larger order (20 PCBs) at a larger size (10 cm) I went ahead and placed my order with JLCPCB. At this level, the price actually becomes a bit cheaper, which seems impossible. And if you delight in colored PCBs? The price gets MUCH CHEAPER than iTead.
The weird desire to go with colored PCBs
With most prototyping PCB manufacturers, any color other than green will understandably bump the price. And yes, I’ve splurged for beautiful red PCBs from iTead Studio for my Vectrex cartridge PCBs. Pure vanity, I admit because the color can’t be seen once inside the shell. But I had the money and wanted to distinguish my latest design from previous ones. It’s dumb, I know, but I like colored solder mask. It gives a premium look to your finished PCBs.
So that was my experience. With the first-time customer discount ($5,) the charges were:
Merchandise total: $11.70
Shipping charge: $12.25
Order placed: late in the evening on April 23, 2020.
PCBs arrived at my doorstep: the morning of April 29, 2020.
Summary: I’m blown away, and no JLCPCB did not incentivize me in any way to write this post.