Regardless of whether someone is starting a small project or needs a huge, full production run, it’s endlessly important for them to be sure their printed circuit boards work precisely the way they want them to. Circuit boards are an irreplaceable part of almost every electronic device, so if they fail before full production or turn out not to work well, it can lead to huge costs and even loss of reputation. A prototyping board is a solution to ensure that never happens to anyone.
Why Investing in a Prototype Board is Essential
Even for those who have a huge team of designers working on their circuits, tiny mistakes and unexpected problems can occur which create a threat to the final functionality of the product. Team engineers will likely use a prototype early on in the design phase to test all of the functions of the circuit board solutions.
Often, many prototypes will be used to test single functions or redesigns as things move into more complicated territory. Prototyping is a solution that lets people discover problems early and correct them so there is no need for more expensive solutions down the line.
Types of Prototypes Commonly Used
When we say prototype, what this means is that an early sample of the final product is made specifically to test the design to ensure it works. Most of the time, prototypes are used to test basic user functionality. However, engineers may need more robust prototypes to test the complete functionality of a design.
Many different types of prototypes can be used for specific parts of the design. In numerous cases, several of these will be used in the design process. Some of them include:
- Visual Models – These are used to make an illustration of the physical design of a circuit board. They will show the shape and structure of the components. Engineers will typically use these early in the process to communicate and review the design simply and inexpensively. PCB Artist software by Advanced Circuits lets them handle this as the software is already filled with thousands of parts.
- Proof of Concept Prototypes – This second type of prototype will focus on replicating the main function of a person’s circuit board but without bringing in every capability that the final product will have. The reason to use this sort of prototype is to determine the viability of the main functions. This can then be built off of for the final item.
- Working Prototypes – A working prototyping board is a functioning item that has all of the features and functions that should be included in the end product. These boards, also offered by Advanced Circuits, help people determine any weaknesses or issues in designs. However, they typically do not resemble what the final product will look like when complete.
- Functional Prototypes – This is the final type of prototyping board that will be used during design and testing. A designer will make this board resemble exactly what the final product will be like. This is the most accurate option for ensuring a product works precisely the way someone needs it to.
Reasons to Work with a Prototyping Board
Designers use prototypes several times in the process of design to test functionality with any changes or additions. However, some people might wonder why they should use a prototyping board before a production run. While prototypes add costs and steps to the process, they also serve many essential functions. Below are a few of the advantages of using them.
- More Efficient Project Completion –When someone uses prototyping boards like the ones from Advanced Circuits, their team has a chance to notice problems quickly to identify any components that need to be adjusted. Without using prototyping, determining why performance is low or other issues are present can take a lot of time. This can result in having issues releasing their product when they wish to do so.
- Potential for Lower Costs – Another of the top reasons to use a prototyping board during the design phase relates somewhat to the previous one. We talked about how someone’s design team can find errors more quickly, which also means they can be resolved immediately. This means that all problems can be fixed before moving into the production run. This is far less expensive than having to completely reproduce a product later.
- Option to Individually Test Components – When someone is working on a product with a high degree of complexity, it’s essential to have the option to test every component. This and validation of the parts lets their team determine where potential issues might lie. Without testing each component individually, it can be challenging or even impossible to find certain problems.
- Higher Level of Reliability and Accuracy – Using a quality prototyping board will make it simpler to uncover issues while developing a product. The best circuit board prototypes will represent the functionality of a product accurately. These prototypes also let designers view and test the circuit board design, do conditional testing, apply functional testing, and try the final product design.
- Assistance with Manufacturing and Reviews – Using circuit board prototyping services lets individuals benefit from having new eyes on their product from someone who is a third party. This can help for many things including design rule check limitations, design blind spots, and excessive input. These types of issues can create inefficiencies, design flaws, and other problems that designers may not be able to see themselves when reviewing the product.
- A Reduced Timeline to Release – When creating a new circuit board design, engineers will go through several iterations, including testing, before the final design is made into a working product. This can take time but a prototyping board can help in several ways. It offers visual assistance so someone can easily communicate a design. It provides complete testing so issues can be easily resolved. It also minimizes the need for rework before full production.
Whether someone needs a single prototyping board for a facet of their design, a large number of them, or wants to invest in high-quality circuit boards when their design is complete, Advanced Circuits is here to help. We offer standard and custom orders for businesses of all sizes. We also provide free layout software and a file check to make the job easier!