Elecrow: An Open-Source PCB Manufacturer
Open-source designs are not so popular in the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) market. However, there is one company that is committed to making this provision. The name is Elecrow and in this article, you will find out the motivating factor for the company’s investment in that regard.
What Does Open-Source PCB Mean?
Just like every open-source project, an Open-Source PCB hardware means that anyone can have access to it. This is a remarkable way to leverage the extensive Printed Circuit Board (PCB) services offered by Elecrow.
It comes in handy in the sense that some PCB hobbyists and enthusiasts might be unable to pay the higher costs depending on the type of circuit board they are working on. Thus, by using Elecrow’s open-source PCB hardware, you have the opportunity to leverage all the tools the company offers to build your next circuit board.
The STEAM Perspective
The major reason why Elecrow offers the open-source PCB hardware solutions is because the company wants to help bolster the interest in STEAM Education.
According to the information on the website, the commitment is to ensure the integration of Research and Development (R&D), as well as production and sales that would help bolster the company’s contribution to the growth of both the STEAM Education and smart homes.
Below are some of the attributes of Elecrow’s investment in STEAM Education:
The company offers a wide range of high-quality content tailored towards promoting the individual-based learning of STEAM Education. The content offered here also helps the individuals or learners to practice both logical thinking and innovation.
Elecrow’s Solutions for the OEM/ODM Market
The circuit board and indeed, the electronics manufacturing market is fraught with challenges, ranging from the inability to meet delivery timelines, high cost of producing the electronic components and the inability to have access to all the services in one roof.
It is in light of those challenges that Elecrow opted to create tailored solutions for the OEM/ODM market. The idea is to create customized solutions for the customers to have access to all the services they need in one place.
The following is a list of some of the OEM/ODM services offered by Elecrow:
- Circuit board production/manufacturing
- Component/parts sourcing
- Circuit board assembly
- Flashing and testing service for PCBs and;
- Sub-assembly and kitting services
Elecrow’s PCB Services
As much as Elecrow offers open-source hardware for electronics manufacturing, the company also helps customers to get the job done.
If you would like to have your PCBs or other types of electronics manufactured solely by the company, it can be done.
Below are some of the services offered by Elecrow in that reagard:
1. PCB Manufacturing
Elecrow manufactures Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs), as per the customers’ specifications. The company takes into account the customers’ requirements to make these boards. Below are some of the general processes it uses:
- Either the mouse bite or v-cut is used for panelizing the circuit boards.
- Elecrow uses mask on the side of one-layer circuit boards, by default.
- Elecrow can also make your PCBs without any surface finish, while leaving the copper exposed.
Customers reserve the rights to ask for specific additions or modifications on the PCBs. If that is to be the case, Elecrow requests the customers to leave a comment alongside the Gerber file when submitting to detail what they want and don’t want on the PCBs.
The following are some of the specifications of the PCBs manufactured by Elecrow:
- Material: FR-4
- Layer Count: Elecrow manufactures up to 8 layers of circuit boards.
- Surface Finish: the company uses a wide range of surface finish options, ranging from ENIG, HASL and HASL (Lead-Free).
- MOQ: the Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ) of PCBs is five (5).
2. PCB Assembly
Elecrow specializes in offering turnkey prototype PCB assembly services. In this regard, the company ensures that the entire process is handled in-house, starting from sourcing the components to assembling the boards.
The following are the capabilities for circuit board assemblies:
Elecrow specializes in the assembly of the following types of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs):
- Rigid-Flexible PCBs
- FR4 Rigid PCBs
- Flexible circuit boards and;
- Aluminum PCBs
The assembling processes for these PCBs are extensive and cover the popular processes – Surface Mount Technology (SMT) and Through-Hole Technology (THT). Elecrow also uses both sub-assembly and the combination of the single and the double-sided assembling options.
Elecrow also handles the sourcing of the parts or components needed for the job. In this regard, the company specializes in the following approaches to parts’ sourcing:
- The customers are asked to provide or supply all the parts needed for the PCB assembly.
- Combo: in this case, Elecrow offers a combined parts’ sourcing service that allows the customers to provide some of the parts and Elecrow would provide the rest.
- Turnkey: this is the major components’ sourcing offered by Elecrow. In this case, the company handles all the sourcing processes.
Elecrow offers the following types of soldering options for circuit board assemblies:
- Wave soldering
- Lead-free and RoHS-compliant soldering option
- Reflow soldering and;
- Hand soldering
3. Premium PCB Service
Elecrow expects that the PCB community would leverage the open-source hardware to get their electronics and circuit board designs done.
However, the company also factors in the fact that not all these PCB enthusiasts are conversant with the design processes. While some are versed in that aspect, they may also have a need for some “professional touches” to complete the design.
It is for this purpose that Elecrow launched the Premium PCB Service to cater to such needs. What does this service do, you may ask? It specifically helps Elecrow to offer customized PCB solutions to those that need it.
The following is a category of the customers that would benefit from the service:
- Customers that have additional PCB assembly and manufacturing requirements, such as using specific surface finishes, increasing the layer count and extending the circuit board’s dimensions.
- Supporting different kinds of holes, such as Resign Plug Hole, and Buried/Blind Hole.
- Using both the 100% E-test and the 100% visual check.
Elecrow’s open-source hardware approach to PCB and electronics design helps many hobbyists and circuit boards makers to get the job done faster, while saving costs. If you need more professional touches, consider contacting the company to use any of the services, ranging from PCB manufacturing and assembly.