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Prototyping

The prototyping phase can also be fun and exciting because this is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road.” When prototyping, you truly discover if your idea and design actually work as expected. During this phase, prepare yourself for heartache, setbacks, and, most importantly, lessons learned — this is when errors and oversights are discovered and must be rectified. Prototyping includes both the fabrication and assembly of your PCB. Depending on the complexity of your PCB design, these prototypes can be either handmade, by yourself, or produced using one of the many prototype shops available online or possibly locally. Also included in this phase is testing, such as the initial turn-on test (aka, the “smoke” test), which involves energizing your PCB for the first time to ensure it either works as desired — or it smokes. After your design is working as designed with no required or desired design changes, the following tests, depending on the end-user of your design, should be considered: · Lifetime testing · Failure Analysis (FA) testing · Highly Accelerated Stress Test (HAST) · Compliance Certifications · User Ability Studies · Shock and Vibration testing · Temperature testing · Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) Depending on the successes and failures of the design phase, there may or may not be many iterations to your prototype. Therefore, beware: Prior to starting any of the expensive testing (Lifetime, FA, HAST, etc.), ensure that your design is working as desired and is “locked down” to prevent any retesting. Most design changes could invalidate the results of your testing. The prototyping phase can also be fun and exciting because this is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road.” When prototyping, you truly discover if your idea and design work as expected. During this phase, prepare yourself for heartache, setbacks, and, most importantly, lessons learned — this is when errors and oversights are discovered and must be rectified.

Ladyada's Take

This video, we get back our prototype PCBs! Woo - time to hand solder each component and 'bring up' the board. After each component is soldered in, we test it. We create a 'demo test' that does the te ...

 

Tools

With the Digi-Key BOM Manager, you can now import your Bill of Materials, name and save your BOMs, and choose how to share your designs within your company.

 

There simply is no better way to find, compare and evaluate electronic components than Digikey.com.

Resources

Having a good relationship and trusting your assembly house is critical. Look for location, type of equipment, quality, certification…

Help is all around and it is important to know where to find skills ...

There are regulations on top of regulations. Make sure you spend the time and money upfront to make ...

There are lots of ways to find a good PCB manufacturer. Make sure you look at location, speed, ...

Understanding what this means to the hobbyist and to the maker is critical. SparkFun does a good job at explaining the ramifications.

Whether you are a 14-year-old maker or a product designer at a Fortune 500 company, you will eventually need manufacturing help. Enter Proto Labs, a digital manufacturer that produces custom prototype ...