We live in a golden era of the electronics hobby. PCBs are easier to make and cheaper to manufacture than ever before. In some cases, it can even be easier to have PCB made than breadboard a circuit. With the growing proliferation of surface mount components, and ever greater levels of integration, PCBs are more and more appealing for hobbyists. Like most folks in the maker community, I get my PCBs made at one of three places: Seeed Studio, OSH Park, or Batch PCB. (Itead Studio, also, but their prices and quality are basically the same as Seeed Studio.)
I’ve been ordering from whatever place strikes my fancy at the moment (increasingly from OSH Park, so I’m not left waiting as long for the boards), but I’ve never seen a decent comparison. A few minutes in Octave fixed that right up. Without further adieu, the price of 10 PCBs from OSH Park, Seeed Studio, and Batch PCB. In order to compare apples to oranges, I assumed expedited shipping for the Seeed Studio orders. In practice, this means about 10 day turnaround time for all three options. All board dimensions are in CM.
This view gets even more interesting when you plot all three on the same graph:
The stair-step pattern is Seeed Studio, the middle-surface is OSH Park, and the top surface is BatchPCB. So, for 10 PCBs in about 10 days, OSH Park is the cheapest up to about 20 cm^2, then Seeed Studio is cheaper. Here’s a heat-map of that price-breakdown.
Of course, sometimes you don’t need 10 boards. In this case, OSH Park is the winner in a lot more cases. In that case, here is the cost breakdown:
And, of course, sometimes you don’t care when the boards arrive. If you don’t mind waiting for 3-4 weeks, here’s where you’ll find a better deal:
So, here’s the verdict: Never order from BatchPCB! (Sorry Sparkfun.) Otherwise, figure out whether you need a lot of boards, board fast, or boards slow. Depending on those answers, look at the heat maps above, and find your best deals!