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What is a PCB Prototype?

A PCB prototype is an initial, functional version of a printed circuit board designed to test and validate the electronic circuit before mass production. It allows designers and engineers to ensure that the PCB functions as intended, identify any issues, and make necessary modifications.

Benefits of PCB Prototyping

  1. Cost-effective: Creating a prototype helps avoid costly mistakes in the final product.
  2. Functionality testing: Prototypes allow you to test the PCB’s performance and make improvements.
  3. Design validation: You can verify the PCB layout, component placement, and overall design.
  4. Time-saving: Prototyping helps identify issues early, reducing development time.

How to Get a Free PCB Prototype

Several PCB Manufacturers and online platforms offer free PCB prototype services to help you kickstart your electronic projects. Here are some popular options:

1. PCBWay

PCBWay is a leading PCB manufacturer that provides free PCB Prototypes for eligible projects. They offer high-quality PCBs with a quick turnaround time.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The PCB design must be a 2-layer board.
  • The maximum size of the PCB should not exceed 100mm x 100mm.
  • The design should use standard FR-4 material and green solder mask.

2. EasyEDA

EasyEDA is an online PCB design platform that offers free PCB prototypes in collaboration with PCBWay. They provide a user-friendly interface for designing and ordering PCBs.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The PCB design must be created using EasyEDA’s online design tools.
  • The design should meet PCBWay’s eligibility criteria mentioned above.


JLCPCB is another popular PCB manufacturer that offers affordable and reliable PCB Prototyping Services. While they don’t provide free prototypes, their prices are highly competitive.


Layers Quantity Price
2 5 $2
2 10 $5
4 5 $8
4 10 $15

Note: Prices are subject to change. Please visit the JLCPCB website for the most up-to-date pricing information.

Tips for Designing Your PCB Prototype

To ensure a successful PCB prototype, follow these best practices:

  1. Use a reliable PCB design software: Choose a software that suits your needs and skill level.
  2. Double-check your design: Verify the schematic, component footprints, and PCB layout.
  3. Consider manufacturability: Follow the manufacturer’s design guidelines and constraints.
  4. Include test points: Add test points to facilitate debugging and testing.
  5. Document your design: Create clear documentation, including schematics and bill of materials.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. Q: How long does it take to receive a free PCB prototype?
    A: The turnaround time varies depending on the manufacturer and your location. Typically, it takes 1-2 weeks to receive your prototype.

  2. Q: Are there any hidden costs associated with free PCB prototypes?
    A: While the PCB prototype itself may be free, you might need to pay for shipping and handling fees.

  3. Q: Can I order multiple free PCB prototypes from the same manufacturer?
    A: Most manufacturers limit the number of free prototypes per customer or project. Check their specific terms and conditions.

  4. Q: What if my PCB design doesn’t meet the eligibility criteria for a free prototype?
    A: In such cases, you can still order a prototype at a reasonable cost from manufacturers like JLCPCB or PCBWay.

  5. Q: How can I ensure the quality of my PCB prototype?
    A: Choose reputable manufacturers, follow their design guidelines, and thoroughly test your prototype upon receipt.


Creating a PCB prototype is a crucial step in developing electronic projects. By leveraging free PCB prototype services offered by manufacturers like PCBWay and EasyEDA, you can bring your ideas to life without significant upfront costs. Remember to design your PCB carefully, follow best practices, and thoroughly test your prototype to ensure its functionality and reliability.

With the knowledge gained from this article, you’re now equipped to embark on your PCB prototyping journey. Take advantage of these free opportunities, iterate on your designs, and bring your electronic innovations to the world!