The advancement of mobile electronic components has been nothing short of revolutionary. The production of compact and intelligent electronic devices can be a complex process, but the use of versatile printed circuit boards has made it easier to manufacture sophisticated electronic components.
Flex PCBs have proven to be particularly efficient in static and dynamic electronic devices, and as a result, many industries are incorporating them in the production of portable multi-functional devices. Oshpark is a renowned manufacturer of flex PCBs and has established a reputation for excellence in the industry. In this article, we will delve deeper into Oshpark and their flex PCBs, discussing their features, benefits, and applications.
Introduction to Oshpark PCB
Oshpark PCB is a popular online service that provides printed circuit board (PCB) fabrication and assembly services. It is a community-driven platform that enables hobbyists, makers, and engineers to design and order custom PCBs in small quantities at an affordable cost. Oshpark PCB is known for its purple-colored boards, which have become a signature feature of the brand. The company was founded in 2011 and has since gained a reputation for providing high-quality PCBs with quick turnaround times. Oshpark PCB is widely used in the electronics industry for prototyping and small-scale production of electronic devices.
What is a PCB ?
A printed circuit board (PCB) is a flat board made of non-conductive material, such as fiberglass, with conductive pathways etched onto its surface. The conductive pathways, also known as traces, are usually made of copper and are used to connect electronic components, such as resistors, capacitors, and integrated circuits, together. The board is designed to provide a mechanical and electrical platform for assembling and connecting electronic components. PCBs are used in almost all electronic devices, from simple toys to complex computer systems. They are an essential component in modern electronics manufacturing and allow for high-speed communication between components while reducing the size, weight, and cost of electronic products.
History and Background of Oshpark PCB
Oshpark PCB was founded in 2011 by Drew Fustini, Laen O’Connor, and Dave Young. The company was born out of frustration with the high costs and long lead times associated with low-volume PCB production. The founders wanted to create a service that would enable hobbyists, makers, and engineers to order high-quality PCBs in small quantities at an affordable cost.
The company’s name, “Oshpark,” is a combination of “OSH” (short for “Open Source Hardware”) and “park” (to signify a community space). The founders believed that open-source hardware was a crucial part of the maker movement and wanted to create a platform that would support and encourage its development.
Oshpark PCB quickly gained a following in the maker community and became known for its distinctive purple-colored boards. The company’s commitment to quality and customer service helped it stand out in a crowded market, and it has since become one of the most popular PCB fabrication services on the internet.
In 2018, Oshpark PCB was acquired by Advanced Circuits, a leading PCB manufacturer, but it continues to operate as an independent brand with its own unique identity and community.
Oshpark’s Technologies And Integrations
Oshpark is a leading manufacturer of high-quality flex PCBs. The company is renowned for its advanced technologies and integrations that enable it to produce PCBs that meet the highest industry standards. One of the technologies that Oshpark utilizes in its PCB production is the advanced computer-aided design (CAD) software. This software allows the company to create precise and detailed designs that meet the specific requirements of clients.
Oshpark also employs advanced printing technologies to produce PCBs with high resolution and accuracy. The company’s printing equipment uses advanced techniques such as laser direct imaging (LDI) and inkjet printing to achieve high-quality results. Oshpark’s printing technologies are highly efficient, producing PCBs with excellent resolution and reduced manufacturing times.
In addition, Oshpark integrates the latest technologies in PCB testing and inspection. The company uses automated optical inspection (AOI) and X-ray inspection to ensure that every PCB meets the required quality standards. These technologies enable Oshpark to identify and correct any errors or defects in the PCBs before they are delivered to clients.
Oshpark’s technologies and integrations are designed to ensure that their PCBs meet the highest industry standards. The company’s commitment to quality has earned it a reputation as a leading manufacturer of high-quality flex PCBs.
Oshpark flex PCB types
Oshpark offers a wide range of flex PCB types to meet the diverse needs of its clients. These flex PCB types include:
Single-layer flex PCBs: These are flexible PCBs with a single layer of conductive material. Single-layer flex PCBs are ideal for applications that require a flexible circuit with a simple design.
Double-layer flex PCBs: These are flexible PCBs with two layers of conductive material. Double-layer flex PCBs offer greater design flexibility and can be used in more complex applications.
In addition, the following are the minimum design rules for two-layer flex PCBs:
● 6mil (0.1524mm) trace width.
● 5mil(0.127mm) annular ring.
● 6mil (0.1524mm) trace clearance.
● 10mil(0.254mm) drill size.
Multi-layer flex PCBs: These are flexible PCBs with three or more layers of conductive material. Multi-layer flex PCBs are ideal for applications that require high-density circuits.
the following are the minimum design rules for 4-layer flex PCBs:
● 5mil (0.127mm) trace width.
● 4mil (0.1016mm) annular ring.
● 5mil (0.127mm) trace clearance.
the following are the minimum design rules for 6-layer flex PCBs:
● 5mil (0.127mm) trace width.
● 4mil (0.1016mm) annular ring.
● 8mil (0.2032mm) drill size.
● 5mil (0.127mm) trace clearance.
Rigid-flex PCBs: These are hybrid PCBs with both rigid and flexible sections. Rigid-flex PCBs offer the benefits of both rigid and flexible circuits and are ideal for applications that require a combination of the two.
Sculptured flex PCBs: These are flexible PCBs with a unique three-dimensional shape. Sculptured flex PCBs are ideal for applications that require a customized shape or fit.
Oshpark’s range of flex PCB types allows clients to choose the type of PCB that best suits their specific application requirements.
Bend Radius Of Oshpark flex PCBs
The determination of the bend radius for a flex PCB, either in a static or dynamic state, is dependent on the thickness of all the layers present in the board that are affected by bending. To calculate the bend radius for a flex PCB, it is necessary to multiply the bend ratio by the thickness of the board. A static bend refers to the act of bending the flex PCB into a particular shape and then mounting it in its bent position. Conversely, a dynamic bend refers to the bend/straighten cycle that the flex PCB undergoes. Estimating the bend radius for a dynamic bend can be challenging, but it is crucial to keep dynamic bends large to minimize wear during operation. Conversely, sharp, dynamic bends can lead to rapid PCB failure.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Oshpark PCB
Advantages of Oshpark PCB:
Low cost: Oshpark PCB’s pricing model is designed to make it affordable for hobbyists, makers, and engineers to order custom PCBs in small quantities.
Quick turnaround: Oshpark PCB offers a quick turnaround time of approximately 12 days from order to delivery.
High-quality PCBs: Oshpark PCB uses high-quality materials and modern fabrication techniques to ensure that its boards meet industry standards and perform reliably.
Community-driven: Oshpark PCB has a strong community of makers and engineers who share their designs and collaborate on projects, making it a great platform for learning and networking.
Easy to use: Oshpark PCB’s online ordering system is user-friendly and intuitive, allowing customers to upload designs and place orders in just a few clicks.
Disadvantages of Oshpark PCB:
Limited customization options: Oshpark PCB’s fabrication options are limited compared to other PCB manufacturers, especially for more complex designs.
Small production runs: Oshpark PCB is geared towards small production runs of up to a few hundred boards, which may not be suitable for larger production runs.
Longer lead times for assembly: Oshpark PCB only offers bare PCB fabrication, and customers must source and assemble their own components, which can lead to longer lead times and additional costs.
Limited customer support: Oshpark PCB’s customer support is primarily community-driven, and customers may not receive the same level of support as they would from a traditional PCB manufacturer.
Overall, Oshpark PCB is a great option for hobbyists, makers, and engineers looking for low-cost, high-quality PCBs in small quantities. However, it may not be suitable for larger production runs or more complex designs that require extensive customization or assembly services.
Oshpark PCB Design Process
The Oshpark PCB design process involves the following steps:
1. Design the PCB: The first step is to design the PCB using a computer-aided design (CAD) software program. The design should include all of the necessary components, such as resistors, capacitors, and integrated circuits, and the placement of all the components on the board.
2. Check the design: Before submitting the design to Oshpark PCB, it’s important to check for errors and ensure that the design meets the minimum requirements for the Oshpark PCB fabrication process. This step can be done using design rule checks (DRCs) and other software tools.
3. Export the design: Once the design is complete, it needs to be exported in the Gerber file format, along with a drill file and a board outline file. These files contain all of the information needed to manufacture the PCB.
4. Upload the design: The next step is to upload the design files to the Oshpark PCB website, along with any additional instructions or specifications.
5. Review the design: Oshpark PCB will review the design files and check for any errors or issues. If everything looks good, the customer will receive a confirmation email.
6. Pay for the order: Once the design has been approved, the customer can pay for the order using a credit card or PayPal.
7. Wait for delivery: Oshpark PCB will fabricate the PCBs and ship them to the customer’s address. The turnaround time is typically around 12 days from order to delivery.
Therefore, the Oshpark PCB design process is straightforward and user-friendly, making it easy for hobbyists, makers, and engineers to order custom PCBs in small quantities.
Oshpark PCB Manufacturing Process
The Oshpark PCB manufacturing process involves the following steps:
1. Verify the design: Before manufacturing begins, Oshpark PCB verifies the design files to ensure that they are error-free and meet the required specifications.
2. Film production: A film is created from the Gerber files and used to create the photoresist that will be used to transfer the circuit pattern onto the copper layer of the PCB.
3. Imaging: The film is used to expose the photoresist layer on the copper-clad board to light. This creates a pattern on the board that corresponds to the circuit design.
4. Etching: The board is then submerged in a chemical bath that removes the exposed copper, leaving only the circuit pattern on the board.
5. Drilling: Holes are drilled into the board to accommodate the components.
6. Plating: A layer of copper is electroplated onto the board, which improves conductivity and solderability.
7. Soldermask application: A soldermask is applied to the board to protect the copper traces and make soldering easier.
8. Silkscreen application: A silkscreen layer is applied to the board, which includes component outlines, labels, and other information.
9. Testing: The finished PCB is tested for electrical connectivity and functionality.
10. Shipping: The finished PCB is shipped to the customer’s address.
Oshpark PCB Pricing and Delivery
Oshpark PCB pricing and delivery depend on several factors, including the size and complexity of the PCB, the number of layers, and the quantity ordered. Here are some general pricing and delivery details:
Pricing: Oshpark PCB pricing starts at $5 per square inch for a two-layer PCB with a minimum order of three copies. Additional costs may apply for more complex designs, additional layers, or expedited shipping.
Delivery time: Oshpark PCB’s turnaround time is typically around 12 days from order to delivery, although expedited options are available for an additional fee.
Shipping options: Oshpark PCB offers several shipping options, including standard and expedited shipping. Shipping costs depend on the customer’s location, the size and weight of the package, and the shipping method selected.
International orders: Oshpark PCB ships internationally and offers several shipping options for international orders. However, customers should be aware that additional customs fees and import duties may apply.
Bulk discounts: Oshpark PCB offers bulk discounts for larger orders, making it more cost-effective for customers who need to order a larger quantity of PCBs.
To sum up, Oshpark PCB offers competitive pricing and reliable delivery options, making it a great choice for hobbyists, makers, and engineers who need high-quality PCBs in small quantities.
Oshpark PCB Quality Assurance
Oshpark PCB has a strong commitment to quality assurance and takes several steps to ensure that its PCBs meet the required specifications and perform reliably. Here are some of the quality assurance measures taken by Oshpark PCB:
Design verification: Before manufacturing begins, Oshpark PCB verifies the design files to ensure that they are error-free and meet the required specifications.
Material selection: Oshpark PCB uses high-quality materials, including FR-4 fiberglass, copper foil, and soldermask, to ensure that its PCBs meet industry standards and perform reliably.
Testing: Each PCB is tested for electrical connectivity and functionality before shipping. Oshpark PCB uses automated testing equipment to ensure that each board meets the required specifications.
Quality control: Oshpark PCB has a team of experienced technicians who perform visual inspections and manual testing to ensure that each PCB meets the required specifications.
Customer feedback: Oshpark PCB values customer feedback and uses it to improve its products and services. The company has a strong community of makers and engineers who share their designs and collaborate on projects, providing valuable feedback and insights.
All in all, Oshpark PCB’s commitment to quality assurance and customer satisfaction has helped it become one of the most popular PCB fabrication services on the internet.
Customer Support and Community
Oshpark PCB has a strong commitment to customer support and community, which has helped it build a loyal following among hobbyists, makers, and engineers. Here are some of the customer support and community features offered by Oshpark PCB:
Online support: Oshpark PCB offers online support through its website, including a knowledge base, FAQs, and detailed instructions for designing and ordering PCBs.
Community forum: Oshpark PCB has a community forum where customers can share their designs, ask for feedback, and collaborate on projects. The forum is moderated by Oshpark PCB staff and is a great resource for learning and networking.
Social media: Oshpark PCB has a strong presence on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, where it shares news and updates about its products and services.
Customer service: Oshpark PCB has a dedicated customer service team that is available to answer questions and provide support via email. The company also has a phone number for urgent inquiries.
Blog: Oshpark PCB has a blog where it shares news and updates about the company, as well as tutorials and resources for makers and engineers.
Overall, Oshpark PCB’s commitment to customer support and community has helped it build a loyal following among hobbyists, makers, and engineers. The company’s strong online presence and active community make it a great platform for learning, networking, and collaborating on projects.
Conclusion and Future of Oshpark PCB
Based on the information provided, it can be inferred that Oshpark is an electronics manufacturing company that produces flex PCBs. Given their versatility in modern electronics, flex PCBs have become an essential component in the industry. They provide reliable electronic solutions for both static and dynamic environments. Therefore, if you are uncertain about the most suitable PCBs for your designs, it may be worthwhile to consider flex PCBs as a viable option.
In addition, Oshpark PCB has become a popular choice for hobbyists, makers, and engineers looking for high-quality PCBs in small quantities. The company’s commitment to quality, affordability, and customer service has helped it build a loyal following and become one of the most popular PCB fabrication services on the internet.
Oshpark PCB is likely to continue to innovate and expand its offerings to meet the evolving needs of its customers. The company may explore new fabrication techniques, materials, and design tools to make PCB fabrication even more accessible and affordable for hobbyists and makers.
Oshpark PCB’s strong community and online presence are also likely to play an important role in its future growth. As the maker movement continues to grow and evolve, Oshpark PCB is well-positioned to be a key player in this dynamic and exciting community.
Overall, Oshpark PCB has a bright future ahead, and its commitment to quality, affordability, and community is likely to continue to drive its success in the years to come.