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PCB Supplier Comparison


We live in a golden age of PCB production availability and quality. All three vendors produced excellent quality PCBs for a hobbyist 2-layer board. The OSHPark board was marginally better in quality (largely due to the ENIG coating), but lost points for some finish on the board routing. The two Chinese vendors (PCBWay and JLCPCB) were indistinguishable from one another.

I will probably stay with OSHPark for most things just because it was faster, as long as I can live with the purple solder mask.

Test Board

The basic test board that I put together is a Featherwing to match up with the Adafruit Feather ecosystem. There's nothing fancy on it, and it's just a 50x23mm (2x0.9") 2-layer PCB with a normal stack-up. This is typical of the kind of thing I typically work with, and I think likely also represents a vast majority of the PCB work most hobbyists are going to be doing.

There's also a bunch of haphazard via stitching going on, which is why you see lots of little holes all over the board.


I ordered all of the boards one after another around 9pm on 2023-8-12. This probably gave the Chinese manufacturers a small edge since they would be in the middle of their day. Still, you gotta order sometime.

Supplier Order Date Ship Date Receive Date Total Time
OSBPark 2023-8-12 2023-8-23 2023-8-25 13 days
PCBWay 2023-8-12 2023-8-17 2023-8-28 16 days
JLC PCB 2023-8-12 2023-8-17 2023-9-1 20 days

For each supplier, I chose the cheapest shipping option. For both PCBWay and JLC PCB, this was something called "Global Standard", which I believe is some kind of combination of bulk shipment and distribution on the part of the company to each country. For OSHPark their standard shipping is USPS.

Both PCBWay and JLC offer faster shipping (using DHL), which might have made them the fastest, but you also would have paid $15.00 more for it, which changes the economics unless you need that kind of turnaround.


The reality is that PCBs are pretty cheap now, at least from a decent number of places, so the actual cost was very reasonable. I just took all the default settings for each supplier, other than potentially changing the solder mask color for PCBWay and JLCPCB. This may have added a day to production, but I don't think it's likely to have been a major issue.

Supplier Qty Production Shipping Total Unit Cost
OSHPark 3 $9.05 $0.00 $9.05 $3.02
PCBWay 5 $5.00 $4.58 $10.31 1 $2.06
JLCPCB 5 $4.00 2 $1.44 $5.44 $1.09

You can find a comparison of the Chinese manufacturers for more variables on another page.

Final Result

Here's the final result with the boards left-to-right from OSHPark, PCBWay, and JLCPCB. In addition to the color differences, the main difference is that OSHPark provides an ENIG coating rather than the normal HASL.

Close-up of all three PCB

If you want to see a full-size image, you can.

Quality Control

I want to call out PCBWay specifically here because they identified an (unintentional) error in the design within just a few minutes of me uploading the design. I had accidentally put some dimensioning information on the wrong layer, and it caused a short on the top copper layer. Interestingly, Fusion 360 did not catch this.

During this, I communicated with a nice engineer on their side who pointed out in detail (with screen shots and everything) the mistake, and when I provided updated Gerber files, swapped them all out for me and released things to production.

I updated OSHPark files online (which was super easy), and they manufactured the correct ones from that. The day or two delay in sending boards for production helped out here. I don't know if they would have found the mistake on their own, unfortunately. I probably should have let it go and find out.

Finally, JLCPCB had already released the boards to manufacturing when the problem was identified, and they were unable to stop them. So I ended up having to pay for the boards to be produced twice but only paid for shipping once.


Not only did they find the problem, they did it quickly and provided very clear and detailed information about what the problem was and helped clean up the process as soon as I had resolved it. I'm impressed they found something that the tests in Fusion 360 didn't find (or maybe Fusion 360 just isn't that good at finding things).

Production Tracking

Timeline of events at OSHPark

Each of the suppliers provides some level of tracking of the orders. This is a place where the Chinese vendors definitely excel. The details and granularity are excellent, whereas OSHPark (shown to the right here) just provides very coarse information. This is likely to be due to the fact that they aren't the manufacturer, but instead bundle together a bunch of boards and send to another supplier who may (or may not) be able to provide that information to their direct customers.

Timeline of events at PCBWay

PCBWay provides very detailed information about the progress of the board through the production stages. This is updated in near real-time on their website, and they also provide informative links to the individual stages so that you can understand exactly what's going on at that point in the manufacturing process. I think this is great, especially for someone just starting out who might not realize just how complicated producing a PCB can be. In fact, I couldn't show all the steps they document because it scrolled out of the window.

Timeline of events at JLCPCB

JLCPCB is very similar to PCBWay in this regard. They provide detailed information about the process and all the steps along-the-way. They didn't provide the detailed information about the steps, but this is less useful if you have some understanding of the manufacturing process.

Tie: PCBWay and JLCPCB

The Chinese suppliers are just far ahead of OSHPark as you can see. I don't think I can really pick between the two.

Shipping and Packaging

Both JLCPCB and PCBWay ship in nearly identical boxes with the PCBs sealed in a plastic bag and wrapped in bubble wrap. OSHPark, by contrast, ships in a bubble-wrap bag, but the PCBs are loose inside the bag. This isn't really an issue as FR-4 is a pretty durable material, and there's little risk of damage.


While the packaging is more robust from the two Chinese suppliers, it's also much more wasteful for limited benefit.

Build Quality

Close-up of mouse bites that didn't get

Overall, all three providers produced a quality PCB. The OSHPark stands out for the simple reason that it is gold, specific ENIG (electroplated nickle with immersion gold) coated. This definitely gives it a stand-out appearance, especially with the purple. While both PCBWay and JLCPCB offer ENIG as an option, it is a substantially more expensive surface finish. Think 5x more expensive, which makes OSHPark quite the bargain here.

However, there is one thing that really annoys me about OSHPark, and it's something that's happened with every order, and that's the residual mouse bites that are left on the board, and which are quite sharp. Mouse bites are an artifact of how PCBs get panelized. I don't know if the Chinese houses use the same tab approach, or whether they use v-grooves, but they produce much smoother edges on their PCB.


This is a narrow one. I give the win to OSHPark simply because for almost the same price, they give you an ENIG finish board. This compensates for the mouse bites that didn't get fully removed.

Production Options

This is a bit of a squishy topic, but there are definitely some differences between the vendors. I'm going to take a few things that typically you might change between boards and see how they each stack up as far as the options available in their "normal" workflow. Note that they may have more advanced workflows that offer more options, in which case I've added some in parenthesis.

Variable OSHPark PCBWay JLCPCB
Layers 2-6 1-14 (60) 1-4 (20)
Thickness (mm) 0.8-1.6 0.2-3.2 (6.0) 0.4-2.0
Substrates 2 5+ 1 (3)
Copper weight (oz) 1, 2 1-13 1, 2
Surface finish ENIG only 12 options None, ENIG, HASL
Solder mask colors 2 10 7
Silkscreen colors 1 3 1

In addition, all three offer flex PCBs. Both of the Chinese suppliers offer more advanced things like Rodgers material (for RF) and aluminum or copper cores. They also offer a wide array of other things around via tenting, edge connectors, castellated holes, etc.


It's just impossible to beat the absolutely staggering options that they have. While I'm sure high-end manufacturers, like Sierra Circuits can offer even more, as a hobbyist, there's unlikely to ever be a requirement that is outside their capabilities.


Overall, I'm impressed with the quality and speed of all the companies. They all produced things that met (or exceeded) my expectations, and I find it amazing that you can get them this cheaply and this quickly. It really is an amazing time.

Other Suppliers

There's a few other suppliers that I know of, but didn't include in this round. I should probably give them a shot at some point.

Comments or Questions?

If you have any comments, questions, or topics you'd like to see covered, please feel free to either reach out to me on Mastodon (link below) or open an issue on Github.

  1. There is an additional $0.73 "bank/paypal fee". You could avoid this, obviously, by direct payment, but I do try to reduce the number of places I share my credit card with. 

  2. See discussion under quality control