Building an electronic prototype of a device is an extremely important and necessary part of electronic product development. Not only does this step let you see the potential of your product, but it also lets you spot any flaws with it.
Anyone can develop an electronic prototype of a product, regardless of their technical ability. It doesn’t matter if you’re a startup maker, an entrepreneur, a small business owner or an inventor; creating your own electronic prototype is possible. If you want to create an electronic prototype, but don’t know where to begin, then here are some pieces of advice to help you:
1. Product Development Strategies
While most of us don’t have the necessary skills or knowledge we need to design and build an electronic prototype on our own, don’t let this put you off giving it a go. If you don’t have the necessary skills or technical knowledge to build it on your own, you could always consider asking for help or advice from a specialist. Here are some options available to you:
- Develop the product yourself – very few people have all of the skills they need to develop an electronic product on their own. Even experienced engineers require help from specialists.
- Bring in co-founders – ideally those who have technical knowledge
- Outsource to a freelance engineer – freelance engineers will be able to fill in any gaps in your technical ability. Just remember that most products will need multiple engineers of different specialties and you will be responsible for managing the build.
- Outsource to a development firm – these firms can be extremely expensive, but they will ensure your project is a success
- Partner with an overseas manufacturer who already makes similar products – this can save money
2. Develop Your Prototype
The development of the electronics inside your product can be broken down into the following steps:
- The preliminary product design – this focuses on the cost, the production components, the performance, the features, the profit margin, the manufacturability, and the feasibility of the project
- The schematic diagram – The schematic diagram is an extremely important document. It is a picture that shows the significant components of a system. This diagram shows how every component from the resistor to the microchip connects together.
- The PCB layout – When the schematic diagram is complete you can design your PCB. This is the board that will connect all of your electrical components together.
- Generate the BOM (Bill of Materials) – this should list every component you will need to use in your PCB. Most of the electrical parts you need to build a PCB can be found at Octopart.
3. Build Your Prototype
As we mentioned above, you can do this yourself or you can ask a specialist to do it for you.
4. Test Your Prototype
Once you’ve built your prototype, you will need to test and evaluate it. Check to see if there are any issues with the design or any parts that you’re not happy with. Now is the time to make necessary changes to the design.
5. Get Your Product Certified
All electronic products require certification. If you plan on selling your product in the future, then you will need to make sure you have the right certification in place.
Building an electronic prototype can open your eyes to the constraints or possibilities of your product. Prototyping is all about testing your ideas to see if they will work when fully complete. If you want to create an electronic prototype, then make sure you follow our advice above.