I've ordered a few 2-layer PCBs for hobby purposes. The first was made with KiCad and the others with DesignSpark. But I learned a few things from Carol's lecture.
I use a batching service now called OSH Park (formerly Dorkbot PCB) with excellent output (boards are US made). For my hobby use it's worth waiting a couple of weeks to save a couple hundred dollars compared to the cost of quick-turn places like Advanced Circuits.
@Mr. E, Don't have any names for you. It would depend on the volume. If your are willing to wait and have enough volume, ask for their bottom price. Some manufacturer's here will have a relationship with a Chinese mfr and can handle it for you.
To double check package layouts it helps to print the top layer on a good laser printer, as well as the bottom layer, mirrored. Then actually put your components on the paper to make sure everything is OK.
It really helps to talk with the vendor--it can save you lots of money. Also, many vendors have standard design rules. If you meet these rules your board will cost less. For example, one 8 mil trace can add 10 or 20% to the board cost if the vendor's standard is 10 mil traces.
@Rob Generally good, never the quality I usually expect and little room for modification once they are in the flow. There are two streams: one for prototyping and another for production quantities. Some houses want it panelized complete with registrations, others will want to do that themselves.
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Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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