PCB fabrication (outsourcing)
This method might seem more expensive, however in the long term it isn't. Professionally produced PCBs can offer much higher quality multi-layer boards, trimmed to size, tinned, solder masked, silk-screened, drilled and plated through vias. These will make assembly easier and save time that might otherwise be spent on debugging potentially low-quality and unreliable PCBs.
Pooling or panel sharing is when the manufacturer combines several different customers’ orders on the same standard manufacturing panel. Boards sharing the same panel need to be all of the same technology, e.g. all two-layer. It is used to cut costs (by as much as 90%) for prototypes and small batch PCBs, in three ways:
- All the pooled orders share the same set of tooling and machine/process set-up.
- Much better use is made of materials.
- Production is much more efficient with standardised panels.
Online pricing and ordering is simplified as the manufacturer will know the set-up and production costs of standard panels for each technology and the price then depends upon the area of panel used by the circuit.
A list of PCB manufacturers who are more economical for low volume production. Note that a company with the lowest price for one size board won’t have the lowest price for other sizes.
- Asian Circuits
- Bittele Electronics Canada based, turnkey pcb assembly
- DF Robot Very good Quality, up to 4 Layers, very cheap.
- Dirty PCB, intended for dirt cheap prototype boards
- Fast Circuits Sacramento based
- ITead Studio Very cheap two layer prototype service.
- OSH Park Based in USA, ship worldwide.
- PCBYA Very cheap pcb house for prototypes.
- Screenbond Based in the UK. 1 and 2 layer, low tooling cost and cheap for standard turnrounds.
- Seeed Studio Cheap two layer prototype service with thickness and surface finish options, prototype pcb assembly service provided. 
- ^ Building pedals,..., by mhammer, The Canadian Guitar Forum, 6 Feb 2016
- ^ The history of order pooling?, Eurocircuits printed circuits blog
- ^ a b c d e PCB Manufacturers, EEVblog Electronics Resource Wiki
- ^ PCB Prototyping and Fabrication, StackExchange Electrical Engineering
- ^ Finding the cheapest board house by Brian Benchoff, Hack A Day, 30 January 2013
- Build Your Own Printed Circuit Board by Al Williams, Tab, 2003, ISBN 978-0-07-142783-8, Chapter 10