Cheap stencils? Where to get?


#1

Hi,
Made the switch from Eagle to KiCad a couple of months ago. Apart from not really understanding the library (and not having made a big effort as I have not needed to yet), I love it.
To my question, I have manually applied paste in the past, but it’s becoming harder with QFN, VQFN and so on.
So I figured I’d throw together a board with parts just to get a “universal” stencil.
Being a hobbyist, I don’t make more than 5-10pcs of each design. Getting stencils for them becomes costly as they are for personal use.
So, having a stencil with a bunch of footprints would be nice.
The question is who supplies small numbers at good prices?
Thanks


Stencil Manufacturing
#2

Did you take a look at OSH Stencils? https://www.oshstencils.com/


#3

Thanks, I will have a look.
I guess it’s a part of oshpark?
I’ve been very pleased with them.


#4

I’ve ordered a stencil from them :slight_smile:
Thanks for the tip


#5

Looks like their pricing undercuts Pololu. There may be other considerations. https://www.pololu.com/product/446

Dale


#6

I see that smart-prototyping are offering a full size (30cm x 40cm) stainless steel stencil on an aluminium frame for $17:70 (£14:51) on top of the board price. Whilst I have no experience with their stencils, I have been happy with the quality of their boards. Elecrow offer a similar service - at $18:00. Probably worth a look at these prices.
I have no afililliation with either of these companies :slight_smile:


#7

Seeed also offers a stencil for a decent price. The shipping cost, on the other hand, was exorbitant, so for one-offs it’s not worth it.


#8

Cool, thanks for the tip!


#9

Ah, you are right - the shipping on boards is pretty good value but I just checked and it starts to get a lot more expensive when you add on a stencil. OSH Stencils shipping looks much more reasonable. Thanks @jonhp for the tip.


#10

If you order your board through the PCB-Pool prototype service you can get a stainless steel stencil for free.

They also take many native PCB file formats, including Eagle and KiCad, as well as the traditional Gerber format. They are based in Europe.

I have no association with them other than as a happy customer.


#11

Well, I got my “universal” stencil order done from OSHstencils.
The point of it being not having to get stencil made with each board I get made. I don’t get more then 10 PCB’s made for each design I make.
This way I have the, for me, more tricky footprints to get the right amount of paste on on a single stencil. The majority of footprint are not too hard to do by hand, so this approach works for me for the time being.


#12

I use PCBway, which now supply stencils as well. They don’t add much to the price. You get 2 choices in postage, one is DHL, the other is china post. So 1 you get fast, and costs more, and 1 is cheap and takes longer. Stencils and have been great from them, and are made from SS. As a note I use the DHL option, but normally wait until I have 3-4 designs in the cart. They make it easy to continue to add more PCB’s, and they can sit in your cart for a month no problem.


#13

I’ve used PCB-way for a couple of boards, the last couple of orders have been from oshpark and elecrow.
I don’t wan’t to get stencils with my boards as I make like 5 or so of each design.
99.9% of them are audio, be it power supplies, digital recievers like WM8805/WM8804 and so on.
In other words, I get boards made for my own personal use (some of the extras I send as gifts to a friend in the US).


#14

If you have access to a laser cutter i.e. makerspace close by, use their laser cutter and some mylar or overhead projector transparencies. Good for small runs.


#15

Similarly and alternative could be https://www.ponoko.com/make-and-sell/show-material/92-petg-clear [note, i’ve not tried myself]


#16

I have used Seeed Studio stencil service a few times and happy with them

https://www.seeedstudio.com/stencil.html