4PCB: The largest US PCBA company
4PCB, also known as Advanced Circuits, is recognized as one of the largest PCBA companies in the United States. With nearly 30 years of experience in providing PCB and PCBA boards, they have served engineers and electronic projects with a wide range of requirements. Whether your board is simple or complex, 4PCB is capable of meeting your needs. In this article, FS Technology will delve into whether 4PCB is the right choice to become your circuit board supply service provider.
We generally believe that online quotation companies like JLCPCB and PCBWay primarily use price as a competitive strategy to attract users. However, FS Technology distinguishes itself by prioritizing quality and service. On the other hand, 4PCB seems to be attempting to break this stereotype by striking a balance between price and quality. This is possibly why they are also referred to as Advanced Circuits.
As evident on their website, 4PCB offers a comprehensive range of assembly services, constantly updating their capabilities. Their PCB fabrication capabilities include laser-drilled microvias, thick copper up to 20 oz, cavity boards, and microwave and RF boards. They can produce boards with up to 40 layers. In terms of PCB assembly, they excel in SMT, THT, and hybrid assembly, as well as double-sided assembly with smaller passive components such as the 0201 package and ball grid array with a pitch of approximately 0.4mm.
In addition to their advanced technological capabilities, 4PCB offers a fast turnaround time comparable to FS Technology, ensuring a seamless process from manufacturing to assembly. As for their price advantage, they guarantee no template fees and offer up to 50% off the first assembly order (up to $250) for new customers. To ensure quality, they conduct a full CAM review and utilize the latest MYDATA PCBA instruments before commencing manufacturing.
Although they have many advantages in the manufacture of advanced circuits, the following issues cannot be ignored when choosing 4PCB as your supplier:
- Higher prices: Compared to other online quotation companies, 4PCB’s prices tend to be slightly higher, especially for small orders. For example, a 10x10cm two-layer board with a hundred components costs $100, whereas other suppliers may offer similar boards for around $30.
- Limited options: While they offer a wide range of PCBA services, the options for PCB manufacturing are somewhat limited. This includes limited choices for materials, features, surface treatments, and certain designs like blind or buried vias.
- Longer turnaround times: Their turnaround times are not as fast as some other suppliers. The standard turnaround time for double-layer boards is approximately five to seven days, while FS Technology can deliver in fewer days.
- Customer service: There have been criticisms regarding their customer service, with complaints about long wait times, unresponsive staff, and missed deadlines. Some users have reported waiting for up to two weeks to receive a response to their emails.
- Quality control issues: Users have experienced quality control issues with their boards, particularly for critical applications. Examples include missing components and improper solder mask on received boards.
- Hidden fees: Additional charges such as shipping and handling costs are sometimes added to orders, resulting in unexpected expenses. For instance, some users have been charged an extra twenty-five dollars for shipping their orders from the USA to Europe.
- Difficulty canceling orders: Once an order is placed, canceling it can be challenging within a specified timeframe. Several users have faced difficulties when attempting to cancel their orders.
- No refunds: 4PCB does not offer a refund option for shipped products. This means that customers who are dissatisfied with their products will not receive a refund for their purchase.
Standard and Custom PCB Boards
|Features||Standard PCB||Custom PCB|
|Number of Layers||0 to 10||0 to 40|
|Turn Time||Same day to five days||Same day to four days|
|Quantity Needed||1 to 1000+||1 to 1000+|
|Materials||FR4||FR-4, Aluminum Clad, Rogers, Polyimide, High-Temp|
|Finishing||Lead-free HASL||Nickel, Electrolytic Hard Gold, Immersion Silver, OSP, Soft Gold, ENIG, Leaded & Lead-Free HAL|
|Certifications||IPC Class 2 – A600||IPC6018 Class 3 AS9100CMIL-PRF-31032, IPC6012 Class 2-3A / MIL-PRF-55110, ISO 9001:2008|
|Thickness of Board||0.031 / 0.062 / 0.093 / 0.125 inches||Full range|
|Weight of Copper||1 oz. Inner / Up to 2 oz. external||0.5 – to 4 oz. Inner or 1 to 20 oz.|
|Trace Dimensions||5 / 5 Mils||Down to 2.75 / 3 Mils|
|Solder Mask||Green color||Other color options|
|Legend||White||Other options used|
|Minimum Hole Size||0.010 inches||0.004 inches|
|Hole Tolerance||+/- 0.005″||+/- 0.003″ on request|
|Rout Tolerance||+/- 0.010″||+/- 0.005″|
|Slots||Non-Plated Only||Both plated and non-plated|
|Plated Holes||Plated / Non-Plated||Plated / Non-Plated|
|Castellated Holes||Not available||Yes|
|Counter Sink||Not available||Yes|
|Controlled Impedance||Not available||Yes|
|Dielectric Controlled||Not available||Yes|
|Counter Bore||Not available||Yes|
|Buried/Blind Vias||Not available||Yes|
|Mask Plugged Vias||Not available||Yes|
|Etch Back||Not available||Yes|
|Tetra Back||Not available||Yes|
2 and 4 Layer Board Special Prices
|Specification||2 Layer Board||2 Layer Board||4 Layer PCB|
|Turn Time||Single day||3 days||5 days|
|Maximum Board Size||10″ x 16″||60 square inches||30 square inches|
|Minimum Order Quantity||1 board||3 boards||4 boards|
|Material||FR-4 .062 inches||FR-4 .062 inches||FR-4 .062 inches|
|Copper Thickness||1 oz. Cu.||1 oz. Cu.||1 oz. Cu.|
|PCB Surface Finishes||Tin finish||Lead-free solder finish||Lead-free solder finish|
|Solder Mask||No mask applied||Green color mask||Green mask|
|Legend||No legend used||White legend||White legend|
|Structure||Custom structure||Custom structure||Custom structure|
Special Offers Request:
- Minimum line spaces 0.005 inches;
- Multipart or step and repeat fifty dollar extra charges per order;
- No need for inner routing, no slots;
- No scoring, tab route needed;
- There is no controlled impedance;
- No need for countersinks;
- Controlled depth;
- Minimum hole size is about 0.010 inches. 50 drilled holes per square inches;
- Plated or not plated holes;
- There are twenty dollars charges for handling each order.
Advanced PCB board Manufacturing Capabilities
Customers can rely on the diverse divisions of Advanced Circuits, which possess deep technical competence, to assist them in producing customized printed circuit boards for various markets. With their extended PCB capabilities, they can fulfill design requirements for boards with special product specifications. These capabilities include the manufacturing of hollow boards, via-in-pad technology, laser-drilled microvias, and heavy copper.
These new materials and technologies can be applied in Integrity Designs that require miniaturization, Stacked Microvias, Advanced HDI (High-Density Interconnect), Antenna and Aerospace applications, Multilayer Advanced RF, and Microwave. As one of the PCB suppliers in the USA, Advanced Circuits also offers Integral Technology’s Zeta Lam high-density interconnect product.
- Buried Chip Resistors
- Blind and Buried Vias
- Can make boards upto 40 layers
- 0 .00275 inches Trace/Space
- Laser Direct Imaging (LDI)
- Down to 0.3 mm Pitch
- Air Pockets between layers
- Cavity Boards
- ITAR Registered
- Stacked Microvias
- Laser Drilled Microvias (HDI)
- Heavy Copper
- Multilayer RF Designs (8 layers)
- Oversized Boards (up to 37 inches x 120 inches)
Aluminum Clad PCB
- $99 Each;
- There is the ten-day turn for one layer;
- 25 square inches board maximum size;
- Minimum order quantity order three boards;
- Aluminum Clad Material with dimensions of 0.062 inches;
- Finished copper tow ounce;
- Lead-free solder surface finish used;
- LPI solder mask used Green, Red Blue, Clear, Black, Purple, White;
- Silkscreen white yellow and black.
- There are 0.007 inches of spaces;
- Holes must be non-plated;
- Minimum 0.03 inches hole size. Highest 50 drilled holes per square inches;
- No cavities;
- No countersink exist;
- No controlled dielectric;
- No inner routing. Not existing slots or overlapping drills hits.
RF PCB Material
- Ten days turn for two layers;
- Twenty-five square inches board maximum size;
- Minimum order of three boards;
- o.031 inches Rogers 4350 Material used;
- One ounce of finished copper;
- Lead-free surface finish;
- LPI solder mask applied.
- Halogen-free materials Certified with UL;
- Rogers 2929 Bondply;
- High Speed and Ultra Low Dk, New RF Products;
- 3M ECM;
- Zeta Lam SE;
Currently, Advanced Circuits utilizes two main types of advanced equipment for PCB testing: the Everett Charles ATG machine, which is a flying probe-based tester, and a fixtureless tester for universal grid testing.
During the testing of bare boards, a combination of capacitance and resistance measurements is employed. Capacitance testing involves charging a net or plane, probing each net to detect induced capacity, and checking for openings and shorts. This approach is not completely accurate due to the inherent variability in circuit board creation. Alternatively, field measurement or field effect testing is used to identify circuit board short, employing a similar strategy.
Resistance testing focuses on measuring the resistance present in the net. Resistance is the hindrance encountered by the flow of current in the conductor, caused by the interaction between atoms and electrons. It is measured in ohms. Good conductors, such as silver and copper, have lower resistance values at common temperatures, with silver being the better conductor followed by copper.
The resistance value depends on the length of the conductor and its cross-sectional area. If two circuits have the same material and cross-section but one is twice as long as the other, the longer circuit will have a higher resistance. Similarly, if two circuits have the same material and length but one is twice as thick as the other, the resistance of the thicker conductor will be halved.
4PCB employs test techniques that optimize both Automatic Test Equipment (ATG) and Trace test programs, while adhering to Class 2 criteria. They utilize test software generated from the Gerber data to perform continuity and isolation tests on the entire circuit board, in accordance with the requirements of the IPC 9252 standard for Class 2 testing methods. Instead of testing all possible sites, they focus on optimizing the midpoints of nets, as outlined by the standard. It should be noted that using the original Gerber data does not guarantee a complete test coverage, and therefore, they do not rely solely on it for testing purposes.
CAM Based Quoting
It is crucial for 4PCB to provide you with the necessary tools to verify the readiness of your PCB design for manufacturing. If customers do not have access to PCB board specifications, the company will extract relevant details from the CAD data provided during the quote inquiry process. While they make every effort to identify any design flaws that could potentially result in placing the PCB order on CAM hold during the evaluation, it is possible that some issues may only be discovered after the order has been placed, as the entire CAM procedure has not yet been completed. Therefore, it is important to carefully review the quote to ensure the accuracy of the board specifications and to look for any remarks regarding the supplied files.
PCB Quotes - FreeDFM
It is crucial for them to provide you with the right tools to verify the manufacturability of your PCB design. For customers who do not have access to printed circuit board specifications, they will extract the relevant details from the CAD data provided in the quote inquiry. They offer a free manufacturability assessment of the PCB design files, providing instantaneous results through email. You will receive a visual report detailing any possible issues, including their type and location, within minutes.
This process helps to decrease the chances of CAM Holding problems after PCB placement, and increases overall throughput from order placement to shipment by forty-eight percent. Additionally, they offer a price quotation with your choice of turnaround timeframes, ensuring flexibility in meeting your project’s needs. Make sure to provide all the necessary documents and information to facilitate the development of your project.