When sourcing PCBs from a China PCB manufacturer, customers are often not sure whether they are dealing with the manufacturers directly or whether they are dealing with a sourcing agent. When you run a search online for PCB manufacturing company you would come across a number of suppliers. Your first point of contact would be their website. Today just about anyone could have a fancy website and anyone could claim anything. If you are not cautious you could mistake a sourcing agent for a manufacturer.
If you are wondering what is wrong with ordering your PCBs through a PCB sourcing agent instead of a PCB manufacturer directly, you should know that there are numerous disadvantages when you order your PCBs from a sourcing agent.
You cannot expect to pay the manufacturer rates when you order your PCBs from a sourcing agent. The sourcing agent will be buying the PCBs from a local supplier and they will mark up the prices to take their commissions. Some of them even charge you an additional commission directly. In other words, all these will only make the prices shoot up.
Even if you think that the price difference is not a major issue for you for whatever reasons then you should know there could be other disadvantages too. When you deal with the manufacturer directly you will know that it is easy to establish the overall quality of the PCBs. You could even get your samples from them or run a small test order to ensure that the quality they deliver meets your expectations. You will not have this advantage when you deal with a PCB sourcing agent. The intermediary agent will claim to deliver the finest quality PCBs but in reality, they would not have any control over the quality of the PCBs they deliver. It would actually depend on their choice of PCB manufacturer. In order to increase their profits, the sourcing agents would have definitely proceeded with any manufacturer that offered them the lowest prices possible. This will have a definitive say on the quality of the PCBs.
You would want the orders to be delivered on time. When you work with the manufacturer directly you will be able to decide whether or not to proceed with a manufacturer based on the actual deadlines they promise. The sourcing agents would promise you the expected delivery timeline but if their manufacturer delays them then they will not be able to live up to their promises to you. Ultimately, it is you that would suffer from the consequences of the delays. If you do not want to make any mistakes, with your sourcing strategy, you must be sure to select a manufacturer that markets their own PCBs and not settle with a sourcing agent. Only when you make hasty choices you will end up with the wrong suppliers or else it is possible to stay away from the sourcing agents when ordering your PCBs.