PCBs are an integral part of the modern world.
Making up a major component of the technologies widely used, they have become an indispensable part of our daily lives.
Invented several decades ago, one can find PCBs in a variety of forms, suited for their unique purpose.
And indeed, there are a lot of them out there, each of them with their own set of features and characteristics.
With the world of technology ever growing and expanding across the world, one could say that PCBs will continue to be widely used, adopted and remain a part of our lives for a long time to come.,
As much as this technology is commonplace, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes, when it comes to their manufacture.
One of the most important, and earliest stages of manufacturing PCBs, is that of their initial designs. It is very rare that companies start manufacturing PCBs in large quantities.
On the contrary, what really happens is that they prepare an initial draft and prepare a model based on that design, before putting it out for mass production. This initial design is what is known as a prototype, with the stage itself known as prototyping.
There is much that can be said about the process of prototyping PCBs, and their use in various applications.
Given in the list are five things you need to know, about PCB prototypes.
1.) Reliability of the Design
If you have ever seen the prototypes are produced, you will notice one interesting thing.
They are always manufactured in limited quantities. This holds true for PCBs, as much as for anything else.
There is a reason for this. It is because of the fact that it is a prototype. In other words, it is but an early design, and something which isn?t certain in terms of performance and reliability.
It is only when the early testing stages are cleared for prototypes, that you can get started with the actual design of the product.
What this means for the end user, is that it is important that the designs be properly inspected, tested out and scrutinized, before being approved for widespread use. In addition to this, it is also a good idea to keep an eye out for any complaints by the end user, i.e. the consumer, if there are any issues that may arise in the future.
2.) Widespread implementation can be a risky thing
As much as there is a temptation to use the latest designs for your next purpose, you?ll still need to be careful on using them on a large scale.
It is certainly true that the use of newer designs offer better performance. This is one of the main reasons why prototyping is done by manufacturers in the first place; to find a ?better? design that can help with the application it is meant for.
At the same time however, using these prototype designs for widespread applications comes with its own set of risks. Given that there is no guarantee as to its performance, there is every chance that they may fail during use, either in short or the long run.
3.) The Cost Factor
This is one of the more important issues concerning the use of PCB prototypes.
As much as prototyping is a necessity of sorts, it should be known that there is a cost factor involved, with regard to the entire process. From the design process to the final assembly, money is a necessity at every level.
It is therefore necessary that one have sufficient finances to bear the cost of prototyping, for all the many inputs that are necessary; which includes among others, facility costs, laboratory costs, material expenses, salaries, support services, etc. Often clubbed together under the title of ?Research & Development? or ?R & D?, it can prove to be an expensive affair if it isn?t budgeted properly.
In addition to this, there may be the issue of the need for additional manufacturing equipment or other related changes, if there are any new additions made to an otherwise standardized PCB design.
4.) The Issue of Integration
To get started with a PCB prototype is one thing.
But to produce it in large numbers, and make it work seamlessly with existing applications without issues is another.
Most of the present day technology available is made in a standardized format, meaning that they are expected to work with one set of technologies.
This would mean that the introduction of newer PCB designs might just not agree with the existing architecture of technologies.
In turn, one may find the need for the existing architecture and construction to be changed, in order to incorporate existing designs. Also, the changes being made might extend from the basic details of construction, to the other things like assemblies, power source, peripherals and so on.
In simple words, there might just be a ?domino effect? of sorts, when using PCB prototypes. As a result, you might just have to change the design of everything else if one small change is made to the kind of PCBs being used.
5.) Not All Manufacturers Have The Means for Prototyping & Scaling Production
This is something that has to do with the ability of a manufacturer to create prototypes.
If you?re in search of a manufacturer to make your PCB design a reality, you might want to check the details about the business you?ll be working with.
Although there are many PCB manufactures around who can take care of your needs, not many are equipped for the preparation of the prototypes or early drafts.
It is therefore important that, if you are interested in getting your design out, that you check with the manufacturer about their ability to create the first designs, before handing out contracts or signing deals.
Another concern related to this, is that of scaling up production, where the prototype is approved for mass production. While most companies are prepared for large scale manufacture, others aren?t and would find it difficult to change their manufacturing processes for your specific requirement.
In all, it should be added that there are many more points in addition to the above, when it comes to prototype PCBs.
The above are but an introduction to the many interesting aspects of these prototypes, rather than something exhaustive in nature.
If you want to know more about the PCB prototype, you can click here for details.