- How to create Gerber files for custom PCB?
The first step in getting the Maker Pro robot PCB manufactured is creating Gerber format design files from Eagle. There are, of course, many different options for PCB design software available to makers and engineers. Each has its own internal PCB format; in the case of Autodesk Eagle, we use .SCH files for schematics and .BRD files for boards.
The Gerber format, on the other hand, is a standardized, open format that can be exported from any PCB design software. Gerbers are the standard file format used in the PCB manufacturing industry.
- How to determine the price for custom PCB?
One of the first major steps on the road to bringing a new product to market is the creation of a prototype. Learn just how much the prototyping process is going to cost you. The cost of a prototype can be broken into two major parts: the engineering cost to design it, and the actual cost to produce it.
The total cost of the prototype (assuming an electronic product) usually includes the cost to manufacture the custom Printed Circuit Board (PCB), plus the cost of components, assembly, and the enclosure. For most products the engineering costs will dominate. They also can vary greatly depending on several variables but especially on the product complexity.
Engineering fees may be only a few thousand dollars for a simple product up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for a really complex product.
Ultimately, the best way to reduce your prototyping cost (in fact, all of your costs) is to simplify your product as much as possible as early as possible. Many times a seemingly “simple” feature can dramatically increase the development complexity and cost.
- How to choose a PCB manufacturer?
This is by no means an attempt to provide a comprehensive list of fab houses that you might want to use for a low-quantity order; that information is readily available via Google. Instead, I want to offer some suggestions based on my knowledge and experience. I’m not going to comment on the quality of the boards produced by a given manufacturer because I’ve never in my life received a PCB that I would describe as poorly manufactured (I don’t know if this is because I’m lucky or because I have a knack for identifying fab houses that are serious about quality). I think it’s safe to assume that all of the following fab houses will deliver a fully functional PCB.