A Step by Step Guide to Electronic Product Design and Development
A well executed design and development cycle for an electronic product requires travel through many stages before arriving at a successful conclusion. Here are the stages that we have determined are needed to create a well designed electronic product.
1. ConceptThe stage where an idea for a new product, a variation on an existing product, or the identification of a need for an undefined product causes research to be done to define a product, a market, and an approach for manufacturing this product.
2. ResearchThe stage at which the product concept is utilized to fuel research that includes identifying the technology, methods, and vendors involved in producing the product. This stage of research must result in a detailed design specification that is used to cost the design process that follows as well as the estimated manufactured cost of the product. The agency compliance requirements (U.L., F.C.C., C.E., etc.) are defined now.
3. Circuit DesignThe stage where a schematic diagram is created (usually via computer drafting software) and a preliminary parts list is created for costing and prototyping the product.
4. Packaging and Printed Circuit DesignThis is the stage where the device under design gets a suitable enclosure designed or selected. This enclosure selection as well as connectors, controls, and diplays must all be resolved before the printed circuit layout commences. The first step in designing a printed circuits the mechanical pattern or outline of the board assembly itself.
The major steps in this process are:
5. Prototyping or Trial ProductionSometimes protypes are built before stage 4 (packaging and printed circuit layout) but the speed and cost advantages of computer aided design are making this more uncommon. A hand-wired prototype of all or a portion of the circuit may be required for the design process.
6. Design ReviewThe stage where the prototype and initial units are evaluated for function, appearance, build-cost, and possible enhancements. This process should result in minor changes but is a must to insure compliance with the original goals.
7. Manufacturing Setup including Test SetupThe stage is where the necessary test procedures and apparatus, fixtures if necessary, and detailed assembly instruction and documents are put in place in order to yield quality, tested products when quantity production takes place.
8. DocumentationThe phase where circuit diagrams, parts lists, master printed circuit artwork, parts sources, software source code and documentation, mechanical drawings, assembly drawings, and all other items included as part of a project's deliverables are provided. This package should be sufficient so as to make the product producible by any qualified source, not just the parties involved in the design.
9. Agency ComplianceAccording to the nature of the product some agency compliance may be required by law. In addition, some agency compliance may be desirable for product acceptance or for product liability insurance coverage. Agency compliance can cost several thousand dollars per agency and can add months of time to accomplish. It is not to be taken lightly or left as an afterthought.
10. FollowupAfter a product is released into production; the manufacturing facility experience, the product support data, and the user responses, should all be reviewed for the purpose of steering future designs and marketing. Don't forget this crucial step on the road to improved quality, value, and often lower cost.
Sizing up the Task
Trite But True:Some seemingly small, but important observations we have made over the years.