The Best Prototype PCB Manufacturer in 2023

Selecting the right printed circuit board (PCB) manufacturer is crucial when designing a new electronic product. For prototypes, you need a manufacturer that provides high-quality boards with quick turnaround times to test your design. In this guide, we will discuss what you should look for when choosing the best prototype PCB manufacturer and review the top options available in 2023.

What to Look for in a Prototype PCB Manufacturer

When evaluating prototype PCB manufacturers, here are the key factors to consider:

Quality and Capabilities

Your prototype PCBs need to be fabricated to high standards with precise tolerances and reliability. Look for manufacturers that have experience with advanced PCB technologies like high layer counts, fine traces/spaces, HDI, and impedance control. They should be able to handle your design requirements.

Quick Turnaround Time

Getting prototype boards quickly is essential for testing, iterating, and meeting development timelines. Look for manufacturers that offer express production and shipment within a few business days.

Flexible Order Quantities

You likely only need a small number of boards initially for testing. Look for low minimum order quantities of 1, 5 or 10 boards to avoid paying for more than you need.

Design File Support

The manufacturer should accept all major PCB design file formats like Gerber, ODB++, IPC-2581, and DXF/DWG. This ensures compatibility with your design tools.

Prices and Costs

Prototype PCB prices are driven by order quantity, board size, layer count, and lead time. Make sure you understand all costs upfront including shipping. Express turnaround usually comes with a premium.

Customer Service

Look for responsive sales and engineering support teams that can answer your questions during the design and ordering process. This helps avoid issues.

Top 5 Prototype PCB Manufacturers

Based on the criteria above, below are 5 of the best PCB manufacturers for prototype orders:

1. PCBWay

PCBWay is one of the most popular choices for prototype PCB fabrication. They offer responsive customer support, high-quality boards, and super fast turnaround times.

Key specs:

  • Minimum order: 5 boards
  • Turnaround time: 24 hours express available
  • Capabilities: 12 layers, 0.003″ trace/space, 0.008mm vias, impedance control
  • Design file formats: Gerber, ODB++, DXF, STEP
  • Cost: See online quoting tool

PCBWay has one of the fastest turnaround times in the industry. You can get 5 boards delivered in just 24 hours with their express service. Their standard lead time is 2 days. Their engineering team is very responsive if you have any questions about your design.

They support an impressive range of prototyping capabilities like 12 layers, 0.003″ trace/space, microvias, and impedance control. Their minimum order is just 5 boards so you don’t have to pay for more than you need.

Overall, PCBWay hits the sweet spot of quality, speed, and affordability for prototype PCB needs. Their online quoting and ordering process is also straightforward.


JLCPCB is another extremely popular PCB manufacturer, especially among hobbyists and makers. They have among the lowest prices but also offer good quality and fast turnaround.

Key specs:

  • Minimum order: 5 boards
  • Turnaround time: 24 hours express available
  • Capabilities: 6 layers, 0.075mm trace/space, 0.15mm microvias
  • Design file formats: Gerber, ODB++, DXF, STEP
  • Cost: See online quoting tool

JLCPCB has made PCB prototyping accessible and affordable for many designers. Their regular SMT service has a lead time of just 2 days for 5 boards. They also offer a 1-day express service.

Their capabilities are sufficient for most simple prototype boards. However, some complex boards may require higher layer counts and finer features than JLCPCB can support. But their quality and reliability are quite good for the price.

JLCPCB has become popular partly due to their low minimum order quantity of just 5 boards. Their intuitive online ordering and auto-quoting tools make it easy to get boards produced quickly. Overall, they offer a great balance of quality, speed, and price.

3. Advanced Circuits

Advanced Circuits is a large US-based PCB manufacturer that offers a solid combination of quality, quick-turn production, and customer service.

Key specs:

  • Minimum order: 5 boards
  • Turnaround time: 4 days standard, as low as 2 days
  • Capabilities: 24 layers, 4 mil trace/space, microvias, HDI, IMPs
  • Design file formats: Gerber, ODB++, DXF, DWG
  • Cost: See online quoting tool

They have been fabricating PCBs for over 25 years and their experience shows in the breadth of capabilities they offer. They can support up to 24 layers, 4 mil trace/space, and advanced technologies like high-density interconnects (HDI).

Their standard turnaround time is 4 business days but you can get boards as fast as 2 days if needed. Their US-based support team is also very responsive if you need help optimizing your design for manufacturability.

Overall, Advanced Circuits delivers a quality prototype PCB service with quick delivery, helpful customer service, and reasonable pricing. They are a good option when you need more advanced capabilities.


ALLPCB is a quick-turn PCB manufacturer located in China but with US sales support. They offer an affordable prototyping service with good quality.

Key specs:

  • Minimum order: 5 boards
  • Turnaround time: 24 hours express available
  • Capabilities: 8 layers, 4 mil trace/space
  • Design file formats: Gerber, DXF, DWG, PDF
  • Cost: See online quoting tool

For prototype boards, they offer 1 to 8 layer boards with track spacing down to 4 mil. Their minimum order quantity is 5 boards. You can get standard production in 7 to 15 business days. For faster delivery, they have a 1-day express service available.

ALLPCB provides a cost-effective solution for simple prototype boards. Their online quoting and ordering process makes it easy to upload your design and get fabricating quickly. Just keep in mind their capabilities are more limited compared to other premium manufacturers. But for basic prototyping needs, they offer a compelling price/performance ratio.


PCBGOGO is a quick-turn PCB production shop based in China. They cater to low and mid-volume prototype board orders.

Key specs:

  • Minimum order: 5 boards
  • Turnaround time: 24 hours express available
  • Capabilities: 10 layers, 4 mil trace/space
  • Design file formats: Gerber, ODB++, Excellon, DXF
  • Cost: See online quoting tool

PCBGOGO offers affordable prototype and small batch PCB production. For prototype boards, they can support up to 10 layers with 4 mil trace spacing. Their turnaround time is generally 10 to 15 days but they offer 24 hour express production if you need boards faster.

Their online quoting system makes it easy to get pricing and order placement. Overall, they provide a solid quality and value for your basic PCB prototyping needs. Their capabilities may be more limited compared to premium manufacturers, but their fast delivery and affordable pricing make them a popular choice for many designers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about choosing a prototype PCB manufacturer:

How many boards should I order for prototypes?

For initial testing, you usually only need 2-5 boards. Order 10 or more if you need to test multiple design variations. Many PCB manufacturers now support order quantities as low as 5 boards.

Which is better – US or China manufacturers?

For prototypes, the advantage of US manufacturers is faster delivery, often in 2-4 days. But most China manufacturers can deliver in 5-15 days which is still reasonable. China vendors tend to offer lower prices too. Quality is generally quite good from reputable vendors either way.

What design data do I need to provide?

You’ll need to provide Gerber files which define copper layers, drill files for holes, and a BOM listing your components. Many manufacturers also accept original CAD data but Gerber is most common.

Can I get support if I have design questions?

Yes, most PCB manufacturers have engineering teams ready to answer questions about your design, layer stackup, manufacturability, etc. Take advantage of their expertise especially for your first design.

How can I save money on small prototypes?

Opt for the simplest 2-4 layer design possible. Avoid tight tolerances and stick to looser trace/space rules like 6 mil. Minimize board size. Order the minimum 5-10 quantity. Use an affordable China manufacturer.


Choosing the right PCB manufacturer is an important decision when prototyping a new electronics product. For the best results, look for manufacturers that offer quick turnaround times, flexible small order quantities, high-quality boards, responsive customer support, and clear pricing.

PCBWay, JLCPCB, Advanced Circuits, ALLPCB, and PCBGOGO are among the top options that provide an excellent combination of quality, speed, and affordability. Carefully evaluate each against your specific prototyping needs. With the right partner, you can get high-performing prototype boards produced quickly to test your design and keep your project on schedule.

Categories: PCBA


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *