Essay Example on How to Take Your Idea from Prototype to Production








How to Take Your Idea from Prototype to Production Introduction Compared to the past nowadays anyone with a great idea has better chances for prototyping and production A lot of design software is now available for free 3D printers can be brought home and investors can be found on the internet to fund manufacturing of your products Nevertheless the path from a prototype to the production is not always a clear one Here is a great guide to follow to bring your ideas to reality Steps The first rule is that your product should be practical You don't want to put in your money and effort and then stop because the product is impossible to maintain for the long term This is why having a clear cash flow is important Engineers are good at numbers but not all are good at money Having a solid understanding of cash flow will help your company grow immensely When you have a good understanding of how the money goes in and out of your product it's time to think about the design itself Normally you start with the core components Which microcontroller to use What wireless technology Which sensors I normally read press releases from manufacturers to learn about new products or visit distributor sites like Digikey and Mouser to scout for the best items to use When the core components have been decided it's time to build the schematic In this stage datasheets and application notes are very important Datasheets contain how the product should be used including example schematic diagrams If example circuits are not in the datasheets they are in the application notes

There are a lot of free software tools to create a professional grade schematic One that I would recommend is Diptrace which has a huge collection of parts and PCB footprints If you have money to spend then go buy Altium Designer which includes a neat 3D view of your finished PCB Once the schematic is done make sure you have a clear Bill of Materials BOM It is in this document where all the parts are listed including the prices for each This would give you an idea of the cost of your project There are great online tools to create BOMs easily One I would recommend is AAC s BOM tool Creating the PCB would be next which is made easier through auto routing on Diptrace or Eagle In my experience PCBs with components that are closer to each other are longer to create compared to one with components far away from each other Also high power and wireless products have more complicated PCBs Electronic products that use high power need to have PCBs designed to withstand such power

This means the traces should be well optimized to handle the expected currents Wireless products often have the antennas incorporated on the board I normally hire someone to create the PCB antenna design for me it takes experience before you can perfect this skill which I currently don't have If the PCB is finished it s time to have the board manufactured PCBs have become very cheap nowadays you can have 10 pieces built for only 2 I highly suggest JLPCB or Seeedstudio for PCB production The production time for the boards depends on the quantity and your location JLPCB located in China finishes 10 boards in 48 hours which they then ship through DHL Seeedstudio s price for 10 boards is 4 9 and they need at least three days to finish their boards The advantage of Seeedstudio is they also have 3D printing services which you could also use for prototyping Also you can have them assemble the prototype for you provided you give them the tools When the PCB is finished and the product is assembled the next step is testing and debugging This is a critical part because you don't want to mass produce a malfunctioning product All bugs must be accounted for both hardware and software It would be very hard to correct flaws when the product is already in the hands of the consumer OK so your prototype s quality is ensured 

It's now time to hit mass production You ll need a factory to create your product for you Most factories have different Minimum Order Quantities MOQ Naturally choosing the correct factory is essential for your business Factories will give you a quote based on your MOQ the higher the MOQ the lesser the cost but the longer the production time Most would allow you to negotiate with them so make sure you have your convincing powers maxed before proceeding It is very important to get to know the factory you will be hiring This is very important especially if your company is just starting If your product is destined to hit retail stores good packaging is very important Packaging not only protects your product it also helps sell it In fact designing the package eats a huge part of the total production cost You need to take packaging really seriously Next thing to consider is the shipping cost You will need to pay to move your product from the factory to somewhere else no matter what A typical shipping budget is from 1000 to 5000 Storage is also another thing that could cost you If you have a large enough garage then great if not you have the pay a storage company to keep your product Other costs to consider are your product s website if there is bookkeeping services trade shows etc These costs are not necessary though and can be avoided if your sales are low When your product is already in stores then congratulations Not all get to see their idea being sold and make money If your product is still on paper then ask yourself this will people need this If you are really convinced it will then act now

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