When you order PCB prototypes or small-batch PCB manufacturing, your PCB manufacturer may say, "We happen to have other PCB orders similar to yours. Do you want to PCB pooling? It can reduce your cost." Reduced cost? YES! Please do the order pooling.
However, what is order pooling? Will it affect the circuit board quality? In this article, we will explain all aspects of PCB order pooling.
Part 1. What is PCB Order Pooling?
PCB order pooling is a technology of manufacturing circuit boards of similar specifications from different PCB orders on the same production panel. These different circuit boards require the same manufacturing process so that they can be done on the same panel. The manufacturers should have enough orders so that circuit boards of the same technology can be grouped.
Order pooling has these advantages:
- Different PCBs can be manufactured on the same production panel;
- Greatly reduces the PCB manufacturing cost;
- The remaining space is not discarded and filled up with other circuit boards;
- Suitable for PCB prototype and small-batch production.
Part 2: Disadvantages of PCB Order Pooling and How to Fix
PCB pooling can affect your circuit board quality.
First, to identify the circuit boards from the same panel, the PCB manufacturers print an additional silkscreen - the identifier on your circuit board. This will change your design.
Second, circuit boards that are pooled have uneven via copper thicknesses. And PCBs on the edge of the production panel have thinner via copper thickness than in the center ones. This is due to the electroplating edge effect.
For your understanding, let me explain the second point explicitly.
In the traditional electroplating process, circuit boards are soaked in the electroplating bath, and the copper irons (Cu²⁺) are attached to the surface of the PCB vias. The electroplating edge effect means that in this case, the via copper thicknesses are even. Production boards on the edge of the bath have thinner copper thicknesses than those in the center, and on a production board, circuit boards on the edge have thinner via copper thicknesses than those in the center of the production board.
PCBONLINE has developed solutions to the above concerns of PCB order pooling.
- 1. PCBONLINE does not add additional silkscreen to clients' circuit boards. We identify the circuit boards by automatic scanning.
- 2. We adopt the VCP (vertical continuous plating) technology for copper electroplating. The circuit boards are plated with copper in the vacuum rather than soaked in the bath, and all PCB vias on the production panel have even copper thickness.
Part 3: PCB Online Ordering and Pricing
Order pooling is just one of the factors affecting PCB pricing. Advanced PCB pricing differs a lot in different areas of the world. It depends on technology, manufacturing scale, manpower, and logistics costs.
Advanced PCB manufacturing requires high technology, of course. Manufacturers from South or South East Asia do not have the manufacturing capability yet. If you want to order advanced PCB manufacturing, consider manufacturers from Western Europe, North America, and China. And not all of them are advanced PCB manufacturers.
Usually, the prices of PCB manufacturers in Europe and North America are much higher than in China because of the higher manpower and logistics costs. And both Europe and China have large-scale PCB manufacturers. Large-scale production cost in factories is lower than small workshop cost.
PCBONLINE has also developed solutions for the above pricing concerns of advanced PCBs:
- PCBONLINE is the factory online shop of Global Success in China, which has three large manufacturing bases for advanced circuit boards. We handle many orders each day and there are chances of pooling complex PCBs.
- We have our own sheet factory for aluminum PCBs and have achieved industry 4.0 manufacturing. Full automatic production prevents human intervention and reduces PCB pricing a lot.
- Our online quote system displays visual images and technical specifications of your board when you upload Gerber files, which allows you to check your design before quoting. Before we give a quote to you, we also check your Gerber files to make sure the board can yield excellent results. Careful checks ensure no mistakes and no economic losses.
Our PCBs are manufactured to IPC-A-600 3 / 2 Class. All levels of production are of the same quality. PCBONLINE's specialty is in advanced circuit boards, and our target customer group is senior engineers and electronic solutions companies. If you have never worked with PCBONLINE before, try now by sending your Gerber to firstname.lastname@example.org. When you get the circuit boards, you will find our boards' quality is better than other manufacturers you ordered previously.
We can conclude that PCB order pooling can reduce your cost but can affect PCB quality. When you hear that you can have your boards pooled, consider carefully first. If you don't have very high requirements for your prototype boards, you can have them pooled. If you care about a high quality, choose PCBONLINE.