pcbcart.com visit

Wolfgang Spraul wolfgang at sharism.cc
Mon May 10 04:44:38 EDT 2010

as part of my work on copyleft hardware, I visit quite a few vendors. When it
makes sense and I find the time, I will write meeting summaries, because
sometimes it might be valuable to others working on open hardware projects.

Today I visited pcbcart.com because I happened to be in Hangzhou anyway
(where they are located), and some people like Carlos in Colombia use them
from time to time so I wanted to learn more about them.

--- pcbcart.com
(taken on my NanoNote running OpenWrt 0322 image)

*) Founded in 2002, pcbcart.com website launched in 2006
*) www.pcbcart.com is the same company as www.generalcircuits.com
*) GPS location 30.27086,120.09378 - picture of building [1]
*) They have 25 employees in Hangzhou, about 15 in sales and 10 in shipping
   (funny: sales and shipping are strictly separated, two different ends of
    the same floor, and they are not allowed to talk to each other or visit
    each other - so Chinese!)
*) They mainly work with 3 different PCB factories, one in Suzhou, one in
   Shanghai and one in Shenzhen.
*) They co-invested into some drilling machines with the one in Suzhou, which
   can only do basic PCBs but is the most cost effective.
*) Suzhou can do 1-6 layer, min hole size 0.25mm, no buried or blind vias
*) More complicated PCBs including buried/blind vias, HDI etc. go to Shenzhen.
*) They typically receive files in 3 formats: GERBER, Protel, Eagle. Said
   Protel is similar/compatible with Altium Designer (?).
*) They plan to open their own SMT & assembly line in 2011. Will save shipping
   costs and their customers don't have to look for another SMT company.
*) They plan to design a website like digikey.com to select components (BOM)
   once they have their SMT/Assembly line up and running.
*) All their customers are outside of China, prices for Chinese domestic
   market are too competitive and their model is really to make Chinese PCB
   manufacturing accessible to foreigners. Good English skills are the #1
   job requirement.
*) 90% of their business comes over the pcbcart.com website.
*) Main markets are US, France, Germany, Japan.
*) In terms of size of orders, it goes down to 1 PCB sometimes, but typically
   first order is 20-50 PCBs, then it grows if the project is successful.
   Largest single order was 16K PCBs.

Overall I had a good impression. Quite focused, only doing sales and
shipping, only to foreign customers. Good English skills. Co-invested into
1 PCB factory. Planning to grow into SMT & assembly (although I think that's
a long-term project for them).
Unfortunately they have never heard about KiCad, but who has :-)

Hope this helps, someone, sometime, ...
Happy sharing,

[1] http://en.qi-hardware.com/w/images/5/51/Pcbcart_in_hangzhou.jpg

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