Putting two different PCBs in one PCG

I am creating a DMX(512) PCB, and also I made a MDI PCB. To avoid shipping cost/handling cost, is it a good idea to put them together in one PCB and cut it myself in two?

What is a good way of doing this? Or even better, can it be done already by a PCB manufacturer, or should I create a row of holes or can I make a full or partly ‘saw’ cut already in KiCad (maybe in the EdgeCuts layer? And if I would make a full ‘cut’ , can a PCB manufacturer handle a PCB that ‘splits’ in two?

It really depends on the board house.

Some board houses think that people trying to do what you describe by combining two designs into one board is gaming the system. If they detect you trying they will charge you an additional fee that would be more than you requesting two designs on one order.

Now-a-days many board manufacturers only charge based on the area that the minimum bounding box of your design will take up on the panels they use to manufacture boards. (I haven’t seen NRE/artwork fees in quite a while with the board houses that I’ve used.) So even if you were able to “get away” with combining two boards, you will then be paying for the gap between the boards.


@SembazuruCDE Thanks, In principle it shouldn’t matter I would say (double space), but preserving handling costs for them and me, and shipping cost. For example, JLCPCB has one price for under 10x10 cm, and my boards are 5x10cm at maximum, so I can put two in one 10x10cm plate.

Not really, because of the “kerf” width of separating the boards. Combining the boards would be 10x10.something.

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@SembazuruCDE … Than I make the boards 10x4.7 cm or so :slight_smile:

I haven’t ordered from JLCPCB, do they allow multiple designs on one order (i.e. in the shopping cart)? I would hope that the shipping costs would be based on the order, not each individual line item. But I do see your point of a 10x10 board costing the same as a 10x5 board to try to maximize your usage of the 10x10 allowance…

But, again, since I’ve never ordered from JLCPCB, I don’t know if they will charge you a penalty for trying.

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I just checked, and it seems even the first ‘introduction’ order gives a reduction for every package (although not sure, don’t have my geber file at hand). So I shouldn’t try it, as long as everything stays under 22 euro (thanks for our ‘nice government’ you have to pay taxes + more resulting in kind of double price. But thanks for the fast replies. I probably need some time anyway to check the PCBs anyway.

I’m pretty sure my last board was from JLCPCB and they accept V score. I added an edge cut AND a comment. Probably left a ‘special instruction’ if the site allowed for it. I just don’t remember now.



@hermit that looks really cool indeed, in my case I don’t have any (white unconnected) connections since the PCBs are really different, although I’m going to use them together in one project, just not inside one enclosure.

@Michel_Keijzers If you want to try the V-Score direction, don’t forget you should leave a wider clearance to the center of the V-Sore than you do for the board edge. Not much, but it might be on the order of a mm or two. @hermit, for Michel, do you recall how much clearance you leave for V-Scores?

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Thanks … I will make sure enough space is available… Currently one board is very cramped, but I found out today I can use some 1206 SMD parts which I hopefully can solder myself (together with through hole components).

No. Clearance wasn’t an issue so I just left ‘plenty’. This was a duplicated design. Ended up with 20 boards. Only needed one. Once I verify it works, if it does :wink: , I’ll see if I can give some away on the site I got the design from.

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I just checked JLPCB’s capabilities web page. They specify ≥0.2mm trace to routed edge clearance, and ≥0.4mm trace to V-Score. I would consider any electrically connected filled zones (planes) to be equivalent to traces for clearances.

See here for all the gory details:

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@SembazuruCDE Thanks for searching, I think now I have even 1 or 2 mm at all sides free.

1206 is very easy to solder if you do it right.
One of the most important things with hand-soldering 1206 with an Iron is to use pads that are big enough to both heat the pad and the resistor at the same time.
(IE: That’s why there hare “handsoldering” footprints for those SMD’s.)

A decent set of tweezers is also mandatory.
The easiest way to solder is to first put a small dab of solder on all the left pads of the resistors (heat very briefly to prevent the flux from evaporating).
Then place the component with the tweezers with one hand, and your soldering iron in your other hand, and solder one side with the solder already on the pad.
The goal is straight positioning here. Not neat soldering.

Once the components are fixed on one side you can solder the other side easily without the component moving.
Then, last, touch up the sides you soldered first. They may have too much or too les solder, flux may have evaporated etc.

I always inpect thoroughly under a stereo microscope (Also solder under it). It’s not really nesaccary for 1206, but I’ve noticed that it even improves my soldering quality on THT components.

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@paulvdh thanks for this detailed instruction, I will check the bigger pads. I can do everything, except I don’t have a microscope (I’m ‘just’ a hobbyist).

I’ve been looking at some cheap USB models recently. It might not help with placement but I figure it will help with inspection.

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If I could order a ‘transmitter’ pcb and a ‘receiver’ pcb separated by a V score from JLCPCB that would be perfect.

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@lardom yes I have kind of this situation, one is the receiver (MIDI) in an enclosure, and with a cable (probably using SPI or maybe even CAN later), data is sent via the transmitter (DMX).

I’d like to know how the double PCB order turns out. In my case, the function of each PCB would be spelled out in the silkscreen. If the fab house charged me extra that wouldn’t be a problem.

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