Printed circuit boards, both rigid and flexible, have been prevalent since the United States Army developed the Auto-Sembly process in the mid-1950s. Since their invention, printed circuit boards have made their way into nearly every electronic device you use in your daily life. One of the most important steps in manufacturing these widespread devices is circuit board prototyping. By learning the importance of prototyping PCBs, you will better understand how a complicated circuit board runs your devices.
What Is Prototyping?
The prototyping process begins when individual engineers research the best way to define a specific system or application. In this stage, engineers focus on experimentation, allowing them to develop hardware that meets the necessary specifications. Once the experimental design has validated, it will be move on to the product development stage of the printed circuit board design flow. The overarching goal of prototyping is finding a product design that is efficient, accurate, and meets specifications. In order to optimize time and resources, you should have as few prototype iterations as possible in this process.
Why Is Circuit Board Prototyping Important?
Although it may seem that you could generate maximum efficiency by skipping the prototyping step, there are many reasons why this stage is integral to the PCB production process. One major benefit to prototyping circuit boards is that it allows you to fail relatively early and inexpensively. True innovation will always hold the possibility of failure, but building a prototype allows you to quickly eliminate design approaches that don’t work and focusing on ones that do.
Developing a prototype circuit board also allows you to understand any potential problems right away. Any design of a device will have both foreseen and unforeseen issues. A prototype is the perfect opportunity to tackle those challenges and find a solution that you can apply to the final product.
Circuit board prototyping is a great method for demonstrating the feasibility of your design. When interested investors can see how valuable and achievable your design is, they will feel more comfortable throwing their financial support behind it. Having a prototype also makes it easier to file a patent application for the product, if that is something the engineers want to pursue.
To design the most successful printed circuit boards possible, you need to go through the prototyping stage. This is the best way to ensure that you end up with a product of which you are proud and that is useful in the devices it powers.