Electronics prototyping is an integral aspect of electronics manufacturing. Before engineers begin the mass production of electronic products, electronic prototyping comes into picture. Electronic prototyping is experimental in nature. Any defect in the final production of an electronic product can lead to mass failure.
A prototype helps to verify the functionality of a device in an efficient manner. Mass production of electronic products can be time-consuming. Therefore, it is important to design electronic prototypes to verify the electronic design. Also, it is important to understand the process of electronic prototyping and its benefits.
What is Electronics Prototyping?
Electronics prototyping involves building a circuit according to a particular design to verify its performance. If the circuit doesn’t work well, the engineer will debug the circuit. An electronic prototype comprises software and hardware design with custom circuits assembled into a functional prototype.
Also, any electronic product design begins with a concept. Gradually, this concept moves through the development stage to the mass production of the final product. Sometimes, design engineers aren’t sure which design will work or which won’t. That is why electronics prototyping is important.
Benefits of Electronics Prototyping
Electronic prototyping provides a wide range of benefits which include:
Validation of concept
When designing a new electronic concept, customers often have only one concept. A concept shows how the electronic device should function. However, it isn’t always evident if an actual device can function exactly how they want. Therefore, an electronic prototype can verify this project idea.
Cost is an important factor usually considered when manufacturing devices. Therefore, it isn’t enough for electronic companies to prove how a concept can work. Also, these companies need to evaluate the cost of the project. The success of an electronic product depends on its cost-efficiency. Therefore, creating a prototype helps you evaluate and specify costs.
Electronics prototyping helps to reduce cost in the long run. This is because early detection of flaws in a manufacturing design can be cheaper to fix. Also, engineers can look for cheaper alternatives during the prototyping phase. Therefore, this will help to reduce the cost of the final product.
On a small scale perspective, electronics prototyping might seem like a waste of money, resources, and time. Also, you could opine that these time and resources are better spent on building the final product. However, building prototypes helps to minimize development time on a large scale. Also, this reveals and gets rid of the most crucial issues at early stages.
This is one crucial benefit of prototyping before electronic manufacturing. Also, engineers can easily break down complex designs to simpler parts to carry out individual tests. Prototyping helps to identify possible problems and look for ways to fix them.
Prototypes help provide a new perspective when working with electronic products. Also, a business may outsource this task to a hardware design company.
Risks of Electronics Prototyping
It is crucial to understand that electronic prototyping comes with some objective risks.
Initial concept can become unviable
Your concept can become unviable even if you can create the device. This is because the complexity and cost might make the product unsound economic wise.
This is a risk commonly associated with PCB prototyping. Manufacturing defects are a huge risk, particularly when they occur after launching mass production. In such a case, the engineer may have to go back to prototyping or look for an alternative component.
Some components may be unavailable during prototyping
If some critical components aren’t available during prototyping, engineers might decide to withdraw from the production. In such cases, developers will go back to the prototyping stage to get an ideal replacement. Prototyping will include the use of many components.
Errors in documentation of components needed for the prototypes
Stages of Electronics Prototyping
There are two main stages involved in electronics prototyping. These are PCB prototyping and electronic product prototyping. Also, PCB prototyping focuses more on the electronic aspect of the electronic product. Meanwhile, electronic product prototyping focuses mainly on the design and functionality of the final product.
This is a lengthy process that involves a lot of critical steps. Also, it involves working with a third-party i.e a PCB manufacturer. It is impossible to create a prototype board without a PCB design in mind. Therefore, you will need to begin with a concept and develop this design. With this, your electronics engineer will understand what you want out of the PCB design. Therefore, the sourcing of the appropriate electronic components will begin.
The electronics engineer will map out the circuit design once the design ready. Also, PCB and circuit integration is crucial to ensure if they are compatible. You will need a PCB manufacturer as regards their PCB specifications. Once you carry out the PCB layout design, it will take some time for the PCB manufacturer to deliver the first prototype.
Electronics product prototyping
This is the final stage of electronic prototyping. Also, this stage mainly focuses on the exterior design of the electronic product alongside the mold that holds the circuit board. Design and functionality are the main focus of electronic product prototyping. This ensures the final product is desirable.
Also, the electronic product prototyping is more critical since it focuses on the entire prototyping process. When it comes to electronic prototype development, electronic companies have various preferences. For electronic prototype development, some companies go for 3D models while some opt for actual product prototypes like injection molding. Also, any of these models will work well depending on the budget of the company.
Types of Prototypes
There are different types of electronic prototypes. Also, it is crucial to separate an electronic product into various prototype types during the early stage of electronics prototypes design.
This is an early stage of prototype that verifies the basic concept of the product. Also, this prototype won’t look like the end product. However, its main objective is to prove the concept of the product. For most electronic hardware products, engineers build a POC prototype on electronics development kit.
There are several great product ideas an engineer will need to verify. Also, a proof-of-concept helps to determine the feasibility of a new product idea. This prototype will provide answers to several fundamental questions. You can use a Raspberry Pi or Arduino to design this prototype.
This is a common strategy adopted to separate the feel and appearance of a product from its functionality. Also, a look-like prototype mainly focuses on the appearance and feel of a product. You will need prototyping techniques like CNC machining, 3D printing, and injection molding for this prototype. Also, it is crucial to separate the appearance of a product from its function when prototyping a new product.
3D printing is a process that includes the material needed to create the desired shape. Also, 3D printing is a broad term that refers to different prototyping techniques.
This type of prototype focuses mainly on the functionality of a product. For most products, this refers to internal electronics. A proof-of-concept prototype can be an early version of works-like prototype. Also, you will require a good engineering design experience to develop a custom PCB.
Also known as works-like-looks-like prototype focuses in the functionality and appearance of a product. some electronic prototyping services offer this type of prototype. An engineering prototype indicates there is sufficient quality to show investors and customers. Also, it is ideal for inventory management system.
This prototype is very ideal for manufacturing. It is close to the end product your clients need. This prototype may be similar to the engineering prototype. However, the major difference is manufacturability. Also, pre-production prototype should feature the retail package if engineers will sell through retail outlets.
How to Choose Electronic Prototyping Services
There are several electronic prototyping services available. However, it is important to choose wisely when employing electronic prototype companies.
You need to employ a prototyping company that has good experience in electronic prototyping. Also, this company must have the required skills needed to carry out prototyping. The development process for a hardware product requires great expertise.
Also, you need to ensure that the electronic prototyping service offers efficient testing. It is important to test all prototypes before transforming then to a physical form. Also, design validation test and product validation test can verify the performance of a prototype
A good prototyping service should adopt state-of-the-art technologies and processes. Also, sophisticated technologies enhance product development. These technologies ensure that an electronic prototype is functional.
The design and development of electronic prototypes is crucial in electronics manufacturing. Also, electronic prototype design involves some processes. Great software development and system architecture are crucial for electronic prototyping. Furthermore, choosing a good electronic prototype service is a critical step to manufacturing functional products. RayMing offers low cost prototyping services.