Advanced Circuits, Inc. (ACI)

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What You Need to Know About Prototyping Boards

While you might be eager to get underway with the production of your circuit boards, you do not want to move too quickly. Even though you might have worked hard and carefully to create your printed circuit board design, there is always the chance of a problem. Even small mistakes that might go undetected to the naked eye can cause some rather large issues for the project. If those issues, no matter how minor, are not caught before the circuit board goes into full production, it could mean a large financial loss and waste of time.

Fortunately, prototype boards are a good solution to help alleviate this problem.

What are Prototyping Boards?

A prototyping board is essentially the circuit board where you test your circuit design. Once you have your design created, and you believe it will work properly, you create a prototype. This is a “test board” that you will use as a means to see if your design is truly functional or if it needs more work. Essentially, they are any type of board that can be used to evaluate the functionality and feasibility of a circuit design.

There are many types of prototyping boards in use today, and it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of what each of them is. This will make it easier for you to know which options might work best for your needs.

There are breadboard, stripboard, and perfboard options. You can also use software that will allow you to create and virtually test the circuit board to make sure it is working properly. You could also create a basic design using one of the physical prototyping boards, and then use the software to recreate the design. There are multiple options, all of which have their advantages and provide users with the benefits conveyed by prototyping.

Benefits of Prototyping Boards

When developing a printed circuit board, it’s important that you get the design right long before you go into mass production. Even if you are only going to have several of the boards designed for your own needs, you should make sure they are going to work before they are manufactured. When you use prototype boards, they help reduce the timeline from initial design through to production.

The boards and the software are easy to use. They allow you to create several versions of the circuit board to determine not only if it works, but which of those iterations works best. It can also help to reduce the amount of rework that would need to be done if there weren’t prototype boards used. Ultimately, it can provide you with a faster turnaround time when you are moving from the design phase and are eager to get started with production.

Using the prototype board, along with software that can review the design, provides the designers and engineers with far more insight into the board and highlights places where they might be able to make little improvements that can make big differences. It becomes possible to locate potential missed issues in the design that might not be noticed until after the board is manufactured. Even after using the prototype board, it makes sense to have a review system in place that can catch any other potential errors before they become a problem. When you prototype, you will be able to move beyond theory and into testing in the real world. Once the prototype is shown to work, you can then move on to manufacturing.

One of the other benefits of prototyping boards is that they allow you to try out various design theories to see how well they hold up. They are a great solution for proof of concept circuit boards. Additionally, using prototyping boards makes it possible to break down complex designs, and those smaller “pieces of the whole” can then be examined to see if there are flaws.

Of course, one of the biggest benefits of using prototyping boards is the reduced costs. You will not waste money manufacturing circuit boards that will not work for your needs.

Using Software to Build, Prototype, and Test

One of the best and fastest ways to test out a design is to use high-quality software for its creation. At Advanced Circuits, we offer design software called PCB Artist. The software is full-featured and offers a library that has more than half a million parts in it. In addition, you can create PCBs up to 28 layers. It offers a controlled autorouter, multi-page schematic, design rule check and reports, design status reports, and more. The software makes it faster and easier to get your designs turned into reality. Best of all, the software is free.

You will be able to design a prototype in the software without any risk, and then test it out virtually. Check the files to see if there are any issues. They can show you where you have to make changes if there are problems. It’s a faster solution than the old breadboards and similar physical prototyping boards that are often used. You can test it through the systems offered by Advanced Circuits. Once you know that the board works properly, you can move forward with manufacturing.

Advanced Circuits has the Solution You Need

You may still want to order a test circuit board first. Advanced Circuits does not have a minimum requirement, so you can order a single board if that’s what you need. This will give you the opportunity to test the board as a prototype. After you are certain that it will work for your needs, you can then order as many as you need for the project.

Designers and engineers should never overlook the importance of prototyping boards. Prototypes make the job of creating quality circuit board designs faster, easier, and more affordable. Advanced Circuits provides the tools, testing, software, and manufacturing you need. We’re happy to help with your project, large or small, from start to finish. Contact Advanced Circuits for more information.


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