While all products
begin with the spark of inspiration, the road to a finished
design can be difficult. Development is the result of
both experimentation, plus the professional experience
and insight of the designer. The following page on Development
Stages will give you a basic outline.
Different levels of prototypes can be manufactured.
Proof of concept models are used to both inspire interest
in a product and as advertising material to generate
capital investment. Beta test units are then produced
to gather feedback on real world use of the product.
They can also help to eliminate costly modifications once a device is in full production. In all cases, the
importance of a fast development cycle, and confidentiality
in both the design and testing areas, have a direct
effect on the profitability of the product. Time to
market is a key factor in investment return.
Most products go through revision at several
stages: in design, during test, after client review,
and after select customer (beta test) feedback. While
the initial ideas may be sound, after working out the
specific details to reach the desired result, a different
and more direct path may present itself. If changes
are required and made, the cost of the development is
impacted. Alterations (even large ones) early on in
the process have less effect than “small”
changes necessary late in the game.
The more information that is supplied by the
client, the lower the cost of the project. For example,
if a circuit board is to be laid out, the minimum requirement
is the schematic and bill of material. If the spec sheets
for the components are supplied, then less time is required
to search for and verify this data, and the budget can
be reduced. Designs with surface mount components generally
require a fabricated board, a cost that is hard to avoid.
Multi board designs, or panelized boards (many duplicates
of the same board), can help to reduce the cost of prototypes.
Many options are available and the designer and client
must find the correct match to the project.
When designing a board, careful consideration
is paid to design requirements such as EMI, vibration
and thermal stresses. Before and during the designed
process, consideration is also given to ease of manufacture
and cost reduction. Then we can optimize the design
after a full review of device performance. Our final
product can either be a fixed product, or a design that
is flexible enough to be adapted to new or unforeseen
uses by the client.