Quotations and ordering
PCB Data
PCB Specification
Volume Orders
Payment and delivery


  • Q: Which countries do we deliver to?
  • Our prices include standard next day delivery to most UK addresses, although some parts of Scotland and Ireland will cost a little more and take extra time to be delivered (we will advise any additional costs and delays).

    Countries outside the UK will also be subject to additional transport costs and delays, or arrangements can be made using a courier agent.

  • Q: What checks we do on supplied data?
  • The Design Rule Checks (DRCs) we perform are done to ensure we can make the board. These DRC checks may sometimes raise problems with a design that the designer missed, which we will report to the customer for modification or advice.

    However, some errors are simply not noticed, and will pass the DRC checks as well. Other DRC problems may simply indicate a more difficult board is required, for example thinner tracks, smaller holes, tighter registration clearance, etc.

    More challenging boards might incurr additional costs, depending on the accuracy of the board information entered during the quote. Boards will not be started unless such additional charges are agreed in advance.

  • Q: How many can be ordered?
  • At Gem Circuits, there is no minimum or maximim quantity, provided we are able to process the work.

    When using the online quote system, prices and deliveries are only shown where order fulfillment is feasible.

  • Q: Will you need to register an account to place a PCB order?
  • To place any order online you will need to register an account, which is simple and safe. Your password is encrypted and securely stored as a hash value, ensuring no one can view it later (including anyone at Gem Circuits).

    Alternatively, an order can be placed by emailing your acceptance of any quote provided, or phoning in your requirements.

  • Q: Have you forgotten your password?
  • Don't worry, we all occasionally forget our password. Simply click on the forgotten your password link, where you can request your password reminder to be emailed to you.

    If you still cannot remember your password, contact us and we will enter a new password for you (we are unable to view stored passwords in our system, since they are encrypted for protection).

  • Q: Do you send paper invoices?
  • No, we email PDF invoices when the boards are despatched.

  • Q: What are our terms and conditions?
  • Gem Circuits terms and conditions.

  • Q: How to contact us?
  • We can be emailed or phoned throughout the day, and should reply quickly in most circumstances.

    You can also send us a message.

    If you do not hear back within 24 hours, then please follow up with another message or phone call, so that we can check if the message has ended up in a spam folder.

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  • Q: What is the cut-off time for day 1 of manufacture?
  • Orders can be placed at any time and the following day is considered to be the first day of manufacture.

    We also need to have the data (for new jobs), which must be complete and have no major problems that would require a response from you (which would delay the processing).

    Delays during processing or manufacture may prevent the job being despatched as originally planned, but we try to send the order as soon as possible (even if it is ahead of schedule).

  • Q: During what times can we place our purchase order?
  • The online quote and ordering system operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you can place your online order at anytime.

  • Q: What are the different quotation pages for?
  • Our quotation system now includes a number of pages aimed at specific requirements, such as multiple quantities or bargain rates.

    Instant quote is for single quantity quotations, where you enter the board information and get an instant price.

    Multiple quote is similar, except different quantities can be entered (up to 4), so that price breaks can be checked if required.

    Bargain quote is for small quantities that conform to a standard specification, to greatly reduce the price.

    Standard quote is for single quantity quotations where either the specification is unusual and needs checking, or where the customer is unaware of the board specification.

    Repeat quote is for any boards we have made in the past. All we need is enough information to find the right board, which will then be quoted.

  • Q: How to order boards?
  • Boards that have been quoted can be ordered by entering the details requested on the Place order page.

    The simplest method is to log in when requesting a quote, so that the system can then accept an order for that board.

    Alternatively give us a ring or email explaining your requirements, and we will get a price back as soon as possible.

  • Q: How to cancel or modify an order?
  • Orders that have been placed may in some cases be modified or cancelled, although in most cases it would be too late to prevent a cancellation or modification charge.

    Any order placed is very quickly processed and the boards drilled, and so the charge would be quite substantial (in most cases the majority of the order value).

    A phone call may be the quickest way of letting us know something has changed.

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PCB Data
  • Q: What is the preferred format for board data?
  • Extended gerber (RS-274X) and Excellon NC drill files are the preferred format, although we will try any format that is suppled.

    Formats we can handle include standard gerber (RS-274D), some CAD formats, DXF files, and drawings such as PDF for simple designs.

    We can also scan boards and artworks to produce digitised data, although doing so may delay the boards by a day or so.

  • Q: What CAD formats do we accept?
  • Most CAD packages provide gerber output, but it is also worth supplying the CAD file so that any missing information can be retreived if required.

    Some formats (possibly not the latest version) we can read include Easy-PC, Proteus, Protel, Eagle, Mentor, GenCAD, Pads, PowerPCB, Zuken-Redac, TangoPRO, Accel EDA, and PCAD 2001.

  • Q: What type of error do we see most commonly?
  • Simple errors such as missing information, ie no drill files or sizes, no outline in gerber, missing or incorrect specification such as material thickness, colours required, etc, are the most common.

    If we see something that looks wrong, we would let you know. If your design has anything unusual, or you want to make sure we know about something, then please add a small text file that we can read (for example, the layer build order of a multilayer).

  • Q: Will the PCB data be checked?
  • Yes, all data received is Design Rule Checked (DRC), which will find problems relating to insufficient gaps, tight registration, etc.

    Additionally, a visual check is done and anything that looks unusual is reported.

    However, on fast turnaround prototype orders, unless something prevents us from making the board, we will attempt to make according to the data supplied, since the time to correspond would impact on the delivery.

  • Q: Can the PCB data be checked before Gem get it?
  • Many CAD systems include a suite of DRC checks that you can use to ensure your design is good for manufacture.

    Another good strategy is to read in the gerber and drill files using one of the many free gerber readers available, and see if it matches what you expect.

  • Q: What minimum track thickness can Gem accept?
  • For most jobs with a 1oz finish, a minimum track width and clearance of 6 mil is required, although thinner tracks down to 4 mil can be processed (reviewed on a case by case basis).

    Our technical abilities are listed here.

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PCB Specification
  • Q: Which board shapes are acceptable?
  • Any shape that is physically possible with the cutter tools we use would be acceptable, this would include just about any possible shape.

    The smallest slot we do is 0.6mm wide, and the minimum inside corner radius is therefore 0.3mm

    Please ensure your data includes the board outline on one of the layers, or documented with reference to a known hole on the board.

  • Q: What specification PCB do we consider standard?
  • The standard specification will change according to the board type. Our standard board type is 1.6mm FR4, 1oz copper, lead-free HAL finish, green mask, and white ident, although many different options add little or no cost to the board.

  • Q: Should the hole sizes be specified as finished sizes or adjusted for plating?
  • All holes should be given as the finished size (we will adjust as required for plating).

  • Q: What board thickness can we make?
  • We have successfully made a variety of thicknesses, from 0.4mm to 3.2mm, and everything between. However, we will only stock the more common thicknesses and copper weights, everything else will be ordered as required (we will advise if this changes the price or turnaround).

    It is also worth considering the technical limitations associated with board thickness, such as the minimum hole size (which will increase for thicker boards) or scoring. In all cases, we would advise of any problems before accepting payment for the order.

  • Q: Who manufactures our standard FR4 materials?
  • Most of the material we use is manufactured and supplied by ShengYi, although specialist material has been obtained previously such as Rogers and Taconic. All material used is UL approved.

  • Q: What multilayer builds and thicknesses are standard?
  • Our standard builds come in a range of layer counts, thicknesses and copper weights.

    To check the availability and price for a particular multilayer just enter the details into our online quote system. We also do custom builds for specific needs (use the standard quote page).

  • Q: Can Gem Circuits make flexibles?
  • Yes, please use our standard quote page to request a quote.

  • Q: What type of solder mask do we use?
  • All our solder masks are photoimageable, and most of our idents.

  • Q: Which colours are available for solder mask?
  • Our solder mask colours include green, matt green, white, red, yellow, blue, black, matt blue, and matt black.

    Green is the most common colour, and is therefore slightly cheaper.

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  • Q: Can we panelise boards suitable for assembly?
  • Yes, we can either panelise boards using our own arrangement, or to a supplied specification (see our panelisation guidelines).

    Most modules will contain a 3mm hole in each corner, with a 1.5mm fiducial 5mm or 10mm away in three of the four corners.

  • Q: Do we supply panelised stencil data?
  • Yes, we will supply panelised gerber for the paste layers at no extra cost.

    If paste data is not supplied to us, we can normally create it from the top/bottom copper layers (will be 1:1 with the copper layer).

    Our paste files will also include the fiducials, and the board/module outline (so that you know where the edges are).

  • Q: Can multiple designs be merged onto a single job?
  • Yes, we are able to accept multiple designs, providing they are of the same specification (thickness, copper weight, colours, number of layers, etc).

    Don't forget to specify the number of different designs that are required when quoting.

  • Q: What is the largest module size?
  • Providing the module is stable under its own weight, we don't limit how small or large the module can be.

    The largest circuit or module we can manufacture is 500mm by 800mm.

  • Q: What is the smallest gap between circuits on a module?
  • For a routed module, a gap of 2.5mm is the minimum, although 6.3mm is recommended to give the module some strength.

    A scored module has no gaps between circuits, although the shape must be rectangular, and the copper on all layers must be 0.5mm away from the edges.

  • Q: Can we supply panelised data for approval prior to manufacture?
  • In most cases, yes. The start date of manufacture will be amended when approval is given, so that impossible deadlines are avoided.

    Where the supply of data causes problems (such as being too large to be emailed) we will contact you.

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  • Q: Can we process half holes?
  • Yes, please use our standard quote page to request a quote.

  • Q: Can we process blind or buried via multilayers?
  • Yes, please use our standard quote page to request a quote.

  • Q: Are all boards tested during manufacture?
  • All boards are tested to data prior to despatch.

    Our flying probe testers check 100% connectivity, where any boards with shorts or opens are discarded.

  • Q: Can we do plated slots?
  • Yes, we can do plated slots. The smallest slot we do is 0.6mm wide.

  • Q: Are we able to drill microvias?
  • Yes, please use our standard quote page to request a quote.

  • Q: Can we score boards?
  • Yes, we can score boards for easy breakout after assembly.

    All scored edges must be clear of copper (no closer than 0.5mm).

  • Q: Can we countsink holes?
  • Yes, we can countersink holes (non-plated only).

    Since countersinking is a manual process, it is normally only accepted for smaller quantities (not volume).

  • Q: Do we produce microsections?
  • We obtain and analyse microsections on a regualr basis, to ensure everything is plating as expected.

  • Q: What is our inspection criteria?
  • We inspect 100% at key stages, and use Automatic Optical Inspection (AOI) to check for defects with copper layers.

    Our standard quality criteria is IPC class 2, although class 3 can be quoted for on request.

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Volume Orders
  • Q: Do you quote volume production orders?
  • Yes, all quantities can be quoted on, from prototypes to large volume orders.

  • Q: What is the typical turnaround for volume orders?
  • Turnaround would typically be 10 to 20 working days, depending on the quantity.

    Unless previously agreed, we would despatch boards as soon as they have been checked and packed.

  • Q: Do we have to pay proforma for volume production work?
  • Proforma might be required if we have little transaction history with you, or if the cost of the materials is larger than our credit arrangements with our suppliers.

  • Q: Would we recommend a prototype run first?
  • Yes, the risk of not checking a board design (or our interpretation of it) can be expensive in time and money.

    A small prototype batch can be done quickly and cheaply, mitigating the risks associated with producing a large production run.

  • Q: Specification limitations for volume orders?
  • All board types and specifications are subject to capacity factors, which may fluctuate throughout the year.

    Placing orders well in advance can mitigate these capacity fluctuations, and may reduce the price.

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Payment and delivery
  • Q: Do the quoted costs include tooling and delivery?
  • Yes, all costs are inclusive (but exclude VAT).

    Additional costs may apply if the board specification is not in accordance with our general specification.

  • Q: What payment options are available?
  • We accept transfer into our bank account, either on account (if we have given you credit) or proforma prior to despatch.

  • Q: How to apply for a credit account?
  • After your first order, and providing our credit checks show your company to be low risk, we can grant you a credit account on request.

  • Q: How is the turnaround time calculated?
  • The turnaround time is based on Monday to Friday, with midnight being the start of each day.

    We will confirm the date your order should be despatched as soon as you place the order.

    Our standard next day courier will deliver any time on the day after despatch (timed options cost a little extra).

  • Q: How to track a despatched order?
  • After the order has been despatched, you can login and select Order History (in the Orders menu), and select the order you wish to track. Clicking on Show Order Details and Tracking will transfer you to the courier tracking page for the given tracking number.

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