Prototyping is, or it should be, a natural part of the production and development process. This is how you will be able to test your efforts and ensure that you’re on the right track with your printed circuit boards (PCBs) before you mass-produce them and put them into use.
Of course, before you dive into full production, you want to ensure that the PCB functions properly and that it is designed in the best and most efficient way possible. All the drawings and plans in the world can only tell you so much, which is why prototyping is such an important part of the process. If a board fails after production, it’s going to be an expensive fix. If you catch the problem ahead of time, it can save a lot of money, stress, and time for everyone.
Why Do Prototypes Matter?
It doesn’t matter if the best person on the team designed the PCB because small mistakes and invisible problems almost always come up at some point. Having a prototype is a way to identify these problems right away in the process and get them resolved before full production. In many cases, there may need to be more than one prototype until the PCB is perfected. Some people worry that this can get expensive, but when you work with the right companies, the prototyping process can be affordable and easy.
This is why Advanced Circuits offers the option of single prototype boards. These runs allow users to test functions and make sure that boards are in their best working order before moving on to the final design or adding other features. It can also allow them to see where features do need to be added or removed, saving hassles after production or even avoiding serious component failures.
Why prototype? Because it saves time, money, and effort.
Avoid Simple Errors and Mistakes
Even the best set of eyes can overlook something simple. Even the best tests can miss a bug that wasn’t visible. There are so many different things that can go wrong with technology. For, as great as it is, it is also fickle and can become a serious hurdle for many companies in the production process. With the ability to create prototypes, companies no longer have the stress of an entire production run on their hands when something does go wrong. Plus, it gives the prototype the chance to see more eyes and hands so that it gets more comprehensive testing all around.
Test Out New Features and Functions
One of the biggest benefits of PCB prototyping is that it gives companies the ability to test out various functions and features that they may want to implement. After all, most ideas sound good, but you never know how well they will translate until you implement them. Something that seemed like a great addition might turn out to be a bust after all. Something that didn’t seem like it would work could be a great idea. It’s all about trying it out. That’s where the value of the prototype can truly be appreciated.
Different Types of Prototypes
Another thing to consider is the style of prototypes that are available to test various aspects of a project. Engineers and design teams will use any number of prototypes to inspect and test their designs before implementation. There is the most commonly known functional prototype, which is the closest to the finished product to provide the most accurate design. This, however, doesn’t usually come up until late in the development process.
The visual models are what people see first. These are designed simply to show the shape and structure of the components and PCBs and are used to help come up with an affordable, simple design that works. Once the visual aspect is handled, they will move on to a proof-of-concept prototype. This is one that focuses on being able to show the function of the PCB without having all of the capabilities or components in place.
Essentially, the proof-of-concept is about making sure that the idea and primary function are on point so that further development can continue. After development is finished, a working prototype will then be developed. This includes all of the planned features and functions of the PCB, as well as everything that users will expect to see and use in the final product. This helps to identify problems or weak spots in designs to improve upon for the final product.
It’s all about testing. The more affordable and straightforward the testing process, the easier it will be for companies to produce efficient, affordable PCBs that deliver results without major quality control issues.
The Perks of Prototyping
When you prototype a PCB, a lot of hassle and effort are saved on production. It also helps reduce the timeline for production and overall implementation, because so much can be done through the testing phases to eliminate issues later on. It also gives a more accurate, reliable sample to test to ensure that the part is up to par and delivers the performance that people need. It gives everyone in the organization more time to review the products and come up with better solutions or identify potential issues, too. Essentially, it just makes sense to prototype, no matter what kind of PCBs are being built.
At Advanced Circuits, we’re dedicated to helping everyone get more from their prototyping, from concept to final production, and at every step along the way. We’re familiar with all of the different types of prototypes out there and can help you with everything from single runs to small batches for testing, and more. Contact us now to discuss your projects and partner with our team of experts to get even more efficient, affordable PCBs and prototypes for your needs, no matter what types of components you have in mind.