iTeadstudio PCB service thoughts

I’ve been following some discussion between the guy at EEVblog and iTeadstudio about their PCBs and the quality. EEVblog is one of the guys that I follow on twitter (@eevblog). I follow iTeadstudio also, but they post pretty infrequently (@ITeadstudio).

Anyhow, a couple weeks ago, EEVblog gets some boards from iTeadstudio and is initially pretty happy with them and posts a quick pic on twitter. He gets a bunch of feedback that the drills look off, etc… but he defends iTeadstudio and particularly the price. A day or two later, he posts that the boards are failing and that some of his ground pour disappears at one point as it tries to get between two drill holes.

Of course, he’s used the 6mil design rules that they let you do… and learns the hard way as I did that you shouldn’t push the limits with their service unless you have a good reason to. I don’t think any more of it.

Someone points iTeadstudio to the posting, they do a little investigation and realize that the board shop has tweaked the files at fab beyond what they are supposed to. Some back and forth, iTeadstudio offers to run the boards again for free for EEVblog.

http://iteadstudio.com/iforum/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=417

They get the new boards back, inspect them and discover that nothing has changed at the board shop… they are still tweaking the design. Finally they sort out the details with the board shop and come up with some new design rules to ensure good boards:

http://iteadstudio.com/service/prototyping-pcb-minimum-spacing-limitation/

Their final conclusion that maybe the board shop is tweaking the files because of the soldermask to via pad seems a little wonky, but maybe… who knows. Anyhow, the shocker to all this is that iTeadstudio is such an open and honest bunch of guys who are willing to put in the extra effort here. For $12 boards!

They could have easily just brushed this under the carpet and ignored it, but instead they took it head on and trying to get it sorted out. That’s awesome. I’ve run a handful of boards through them since December and I’m pretty happy with the boards I get back. I’ve had to inspect the 6mil/6mil boards carefully and patch of couple of them, but now I’m confident that sticking to 8mil/8mil for the majority of the stuff will be pure bliss.

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2 Responses to iTeadstudio PCB service thoughts

  1. Jeffrey Arcand says:

    What’s the turn-around time on orders placed with iTeadstudio? Do you know of any local PCB printing companies?

    • Aaron Ramsey says:

      iTeadstudio and Seeedstudio both manufacture the boards in 6 days from when you give them the gerber files. Shipping takes between 2 and 3 weeks.

      There are some local places, but you’ll pay 10 to 40 times more for a set of prototypes boards. The best local-ish place to get prototypes boards is APCircuits (apcircuits.com) in Alberta. Cost is higher than the Chinese places, but the quality is better and you’ll get boards in 3 days. If you are in a hurry, they are the guys to go to for sure.

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