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There are 5 reviews with an average rating of 2.8.
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Good for Prototyping & Hobby Use
Software is relatively easy to use and with a modicum of effort, good designs may be made. However, mechanical features are limited, such as maximum hole size and no support for non-plated holes or slots in the board's interior.
The files generated by ExpressPCB's software are a proprietary format (although have been reverse-engineered), and are the only format accepted by EPCB for board fabrication. This obviously is a form of vendor lock-in and is why I am giving three out of five stars.
The boards themselves are high quality and are produced and shipped on schedule every time. Prices are mostly okay, although almost any board house that accepts gerbers will come in cheaper with quantity orders for the same design.
I give EPCB kudos for producing a good product but a thumbs down for blatant vendor lock-in.
Limited Mechanical Capablity
1. Easy to use. You can probably learn how to use it in a day.
2. Do not need to generate Gerbers to order PCBs.
1. Locked into a specific PCB manufacturer which is ExpressPCB.
2. It does not generate Gerbers. If you want to order PCBs from a different vendor, you have to pay a fee for it.
3. Primitive mechanical design capability. Creating irregular board outline can be challenging if not impossible.
4. Unable to create internal slots and openings.
5. Drill hole limited to 0.25" maximum and have limited choices on drill sizes.
Ship date not met and poor communication
Had a client who asked for a rapid development of a proof of concept prototype to demo in front of a few investors. Had not used PCB Express before, and decided to give it a shot because the pricing for one day turns was preferable to the alternatives. Submitted the board using their software at noon on Thursday, paid the extra for saturday delivery.
Next day (Friday), sent an email (no phone number) asking for the tracking number. Queue the crickets. Saturday, the boards do not arrive. So, I have to kludge together the circuit using proto-boards. Sent more emails.
FINALLY come monday night they get back to me, apologizing that they had some "manufacturing difficulties", but are pleased to say that the boards have shipped, and my saturday delivery refunded.
Yea, thanks a lot. Did not honor my request to cancel the order, waited to contact me until AFTER the boards shipped, and refused to refund or offer any sort of discount or remedy of any kind.
Considered giving 2 stars because the boards I did get were quality (and useless) However ultimately it's not even that they failed to deliver on time-- I understand issues come up. It's their lack of communication, and poor customer service.
hard to beat for ease of use
Express seems like it has been around for donkey's years. Even with services like PCB-Pool and Sunstone, I keep transferring my designs to expressPCB. Send the order out Sunday evening, the boards will arrive Thursday.
I have 14 years of legacy designs and footprints that work. Internally there is a rich selection of surface mount components. Even BGA grids have limited support. Component creation is easy. Draw the part in the layout tool group it and save it.
The internal format has been reverse engineered. This allows me to create designs with Postscript and other tools such as KiCad that support DRC.
The Java Applet jschem, can read expressPCB as well as fritzing diagrams. Those who are interested in the file internals can find them there.
The program is limited. Especially in the 4 layer mode as the internal layers can only contain filled or split planes. Traces, blind and buried vias are not allowed in the internal planes.
Flood fills are also limited as these are not assigned to nets. This makes creating Gerbers from transfered designs not the same as the prototype. ExpressPCB will sell the Gerbers for a reasonable fee.
I've used expresspcb for years
Pros: Their product is as advertised, they ship when they say they will, the prices are quite reasonable for small quantities and disclosed up front with no hidden fees, the layout software is dirt simple to use (I use it under Linux with wine), and there is no worrying about whether you have the right file format -- just click a few buttons in the program and enter your credit card number, and the boards are on their way.
Cons: They have cut themselves off from the rest of the ecosystem, in that you can't use their software with another fab or vice-versa, and they are paranoid about people using their files for other stuff, so you can't version control or do your own DRC on their format easily, although there are third party tools available that show that someone must have reverse-engineered the file format. Also, some of the quick turn boards are not RoHS.
Bottom line: For cheap, limited quantity, quick-turn boards for one-off projects that are simple enough for a quick visual check on the design, they're hard to beat.