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Innovation in PCB Circuit Design: Get to Know Your Options for Prototyping

Circuit design has changed significantly over the years, as with most industries where innovation and technology step in and help provide a better way forward. For companies that need prototyping for circuit boards, there are several options available today. Fortunately, the biggest advantage is that prototypes of single boards are now available, saving companies thousands of dollars on parts that might not be ready for mass production.

At Advanced Circuits, we work with people in every stage of the prototyping and design process, helping to test every aspect of user functionality and give people the solutions that they need. Part of this includes educating people on the various design options available and how the prototyping process actually works. It’s not a one-step deal. There are several stages in the process, including four different prototypes that a team will use before creating the final production design.

Visual Models

This is the first step in prototyping any project. It is just a physical product that is designed to look like the PCB concept that was presented. It shows the structure of the components and the board itself, helping engineers to find design flaws or make visual improvements. This is the best way for a team to look at a PCB and see whether it is cost-effective and whether the design is functional. It’s much easier than trying to visualize something in the mind based on a description on paper.

Visual models ensure that the PCB components fit together, that the design works, and that the size is ideal for the project in question. There may even be a few visual models made until the design is proven to be the best choice and it is decided that the project can move forward. All that matters is that it is done correctly, whether that takes one prototype or two dozen.

Proof-of-Concept

The proof-of-concept prototype is another important step that is often overlooked. This is a step that tests the basic functions of the idea and the concept of the PCB on a general level. Essentially, it ensures that the idea itself will work before moving forward and integrating a bunch of components or adding to the expense of development without knowing whether the end product will produce the desired result.

By replicating the primary function of the PCB, this process allows the engineers and design team to test the viability of the project. This is where they can make necessary changes and update various aspects of the design so that it can be approved to be turned into a working model for testing. Skipping this step and assuming viability could result in serious issues with later prototyping and testing, which is a waste of time and money.

Working Prototypes

This is the next phase in the process and it should only be approached once a proof-of-concept has been approved. This board will have all of the functions of the final design and provide the tasks required, but the piece itself may not represent the physical design of the end product. Essentially, this prototype is merely testing to make sure that the PCB works as it should and that all functions deliver the desired results.

Working prototypes will be tweaked and finessed, and once they are approved, they will then be turned into functional prototypes for final testing. Again, teams will generally go through a few of these designs in the testing process before arriving at something that works, but that’s the importance of this step in the first place. It saves time and money on full production when products might not be quite ready.

Functional Prototypes

The final result of any project will be a fully functional, ready-to-implement prototype that functions in every way that it should and is as close to the final design of the product as possible. This allows for one last check of everything, as well as a way to see the PCB in action before it is mass-produced. Designers make these to resemble the finished product to ensure that everything is in working order, looks visually correct, and has become the idea that was first conceptualized.

Once the functional prototype is perfected and approved, full production can begin on a set of PCBs. This might happen with the first run, which is rare but possible for those who have planned and handled the rest of the stages properly. It usually takes at least two or three tries for the final prototype to deliver the ideal result for all invested parties.

Prototyping for All Projects and Phases

At Advanced Circuits, we can help produce prototypes for all types of projects and at any stage in the game, no matter what you’re working with. We can even get you started on the concept and early-stage prototypes so that you can focus on the end result and get things moving more quickly. Being able to see the ideas in action can resolve a lot of issues and save a lot of potential problems down the road. This means saving money and time, too.

When you take the time to prototype projects, you are giving your company a chance to ensure that everything is as close to perfect as possible. You may still have occasional flaws or bad PCBs that just don’t make the cut, but that happens with all kinds of technology. Nothing is, or ever will be, perfect. At Advanced Circuits, we’ll help you get as close as we can.

Call us today, no matter what phase of your project you’re in. We can help you embrace prototyping for all of your PCBs, no matter how complex or simple they might be. Plus, we’ll work with you every step of the way to ensure that your final product delivers everything that you want, helping you streamline the testing process and improve your bottom line along the way. Contact Advanced Circuits to learn more about the value of prototypes and get your project started now.

 

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