What is PCB Order Pooling – Its Pros and Cons

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Introduction to PCB Order Pooling

PCB (printed circuit board) order pooling is a cost-saving strategy used by electronics manufacturers and hobbyists to reduce the cost of producing PCBs in small quantities. In PCB order pooling, multiple customers combine their individual PCB orders into a single larger order, which is then manufactured together on a single panel. This process allows the manufacturing costs to be shared among the customers, resulting in lower costs per PCB.

How PCB Order Pooling Works

The process of PCB order pooling typically involves the following steps:

  1. Customers submit their PCB designs and quantities to a PCB order pooling service provider.
  2. The service provider collects and reviews the submitted designs to ensure they meet the manufacturing requirements.
  3. Once enough orders have been collected to fill a panel, the service provider arranges the individual designs on the panel to maximize space utilization.
  4. The panel containing multiple PCB designs is then sent to the manufacturer for production.
  5. After manufacturing, the PCBs are separated, inspected, and shipped to the respective customers.

Advantages of PCB Order Pooling

Cost Savings

The primary advantage of PCB order pooling is the significant cost savings it offers, especially for low-volume production. By sharing the manufacturing costs among multiple customers, the price per PCB can be reduced considerably compared to ordering the same quantity individually.

To illustrate the potential cost savings, consider the following example:

Order Type Quantity Price per PCB
Individual 10 $50
Pooled 10 $20

In this example, by participating in a PCB order pool, a customer can save 60% on the cost of their PCBs compared to ordering them individually.

Reduced Minimum Order Quantities

Another benefit of PCB order pooling is the reduced minimum order quantities (MOQs). Many PCB Manufacturers have high MOQs, which can be a barrier for small-scale projects or prototypes. By participating in a PCB order pool, customers can order smaller quantities of PCBs without having to meet the manufacturer’s MOQ.

Access to Advanced Manufacturing Capabilities

PCB order pooling also allows customers to access advanced manufacturing capabilities that might otherwise be too expensive for small-scale production. These capabilities include:

  • High-density interconnect (HDI) PCBs
  • Multilayer PCBs
  • Specialized materials (e.g., RF substrates, flex PCBs)
  • Advanced surface finishes (e.g., ENIG, ENEPIG)

By pooling orders, customers can take advantage of these advanced manufacturing options at a lower cost.

Disadvantages of PCB Order Pooling

Longer Lead Times

One of the main drawbacks of PCB order pooling is the longer lead times compared to individual orders. Since the service provider must wait for enough orders to fill a panel before production can begin, customers may experience longer wait times for their PCBs.

The following table compares typical lead times for individual and pooled PCB orders:

Order Type Lead Time (days)
Individual 5-10
Pooled 15-30

Customers should factor in these longer lead times when planning their projects and adjust their timelines accordingly.

Limited Design Flexibility

PCB order pooling may also limit design flexibility, as the service provider must ensure that all submitted designs can be manufactured together on a single panel. This may result in restrictions on PCB dimensions, layer counts, and materials.

Customers should carefully review the design guidelines provided by the PCB order pooling service to ensure their designs are compatible with the pooling process.

Potential Quality Concerns

While reputable PCB order pooling services strive to maintain high quality standards, there is a potential for quality issues to arise due to the complexity of managing multiple designs on a single panel. These issues may include:

  • Misalignment of layers
  • Inconsistent plating or etching
  • Contamination between different designs

To mitigate these risks, customers should choose a PCB order pooling service with a proven track record of quality and reliability. Additionally, customers should always inspect their PCBs upon receipt and report any quality issues to the service provider promptly.


1. Is PCB order pooling suitable for all types of projects?

PCB order pooling is most suitable for small-scale production, prototypes, and hobbyist projects where cost savings are a priority, and longer lead times are acceptable. For time-critical or high-volume production, individual ordering may be more appropriate.

2. How much can I save by using PCB order pooling?

The cost savings from PCB order pooling can vary depending on the specific service provider, PCB complexity, and order quantity. However, savings of 50% or more compared to individual ordering are not uncommon.

3. Can I request expedited production for my pooled PCB order?

Most PCB order pooling services do not offer expedited production options, as the pooling process is designed to optimize cost savings rather than production speed. If fast turnaround times are a priority, individual ordering may be a better choice.

4. What happens if there is a quality issue with my PCBs?

If you receive PCBs with quality issues, contact your PCB order pooling service provider immediately. Most reputable services have a quality guarantee and will work with you to resolve any issues, which may include replacement or refund of the affected PCBs.

5. How do I choose a reliable PCB order pooling service?

When selecting a PCB order pooling service, consider factors such as:

  • Reputation and customer reviews
  • Quality control processes
  • Design guidelines and limitations
  • Pricing and lead times
  • Customer support and communication

Look for a service provider with a proven track record of delivering high-quality PCBs and excellent customer support.


PCB order pooling is a valuable cost-saving strategy for electronics manufacturers and hobbyists who need small quantities of PCBs. By combining multiple orders into a single panel, customers can significantly reduce the cost per PCB and access advanced manufacturing capabilities that might otherwise be too expensive.

However, PCB order pooling also has its drawbacks, such as longer lead times and limited design flexibility. Customers should carefully weigh the pros and cons of PCB order pooling and choose a reputable service provider to ensure the best possible results for their projects.