Tips to Speed Turnaround on Electronic Prototypes

AssemblyCell_800pxElectronics prototypes enable design engineers to test hardware and software integration. The best prototypes are of high quality and are turned around very quickly, to ensure that you can get back to work on your design with minimal downtime.This DFM Tip provides a checklist of straight-forward things you can do to speed the turn-around (and help ensure the quality) of your prototype PCB.

Think Ahead
The single most influential best-practice to ensure rapid turnaround of prototype PCBs is to establish a communication channel as early as possible with your prototype manufacturer.

In particular, take care of these details in advance:

  • If you are using a turnkey prototype service, prepare a purchase order concurrently with your design. The prototype house needs to to start working with you early to procure materials.
  • Provide adequate assembly documentation as early as possible.
  • Give the prototype manufacturer as much heads-up as possible, along with any available documentation – it’s almost never too early to get the prototype manufacturer involved!

These measures will help ensure that the manufacturer is able to get started on your prototype as soon as your design is ready.

Device Programming
Work with your prototype manufacturer to plan for device programming. Alternatively, you can provide the devices pre-programmed. This will ensure that programming is seamless and does not hold up prototype completion.

If Consigning
If you are consigning the materials for the prototype (i.e. you are purchasing the materials and giving them to the manufacturer), be sure that you provide a well labeled and complete kit for each board. If possible, provide a few extra pieces of each material.

This will prevent avoidable back-and-forth if materials are found to be short or defective.

Design Review
If time allows, it is very valuable to obtain a design-for-manufacturing (DFM) review of the prototype design. At this early stage, your manufacturer will be able to point out opportunities for cost savings and time savings once the product goes into production. The prototype stage is the easiest and best time to make design adjustments of any kind. Minor tweaks now can make the difference between market success or failure of your innovation.

OCM Manufacturing’s Electronics Prototyping service is a dedicated prototyping practice. We offer fast turnaround, high quality and DFM feedback. Contact one of our Program Managers for details about how we can help.