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Page 86 of 117

JUNE 2020 I DESIGN007 MAGAZINE 87 To be considered an innovator—a profitable one, at least—it's impor- tant that you're first to market with your prod- uct. This presents a seem- ingly compelling reason to head straight for full production, but designing your PCB is just step one for ensuring its manufac- turability and eventual functionality. Prototyping is the critical next step in the process, one that can make you more confident about your production runs. Some feel prototyping costs too much, takes too much time, or must be outsourced abroad. Even if you are in a hurry, prototyping makes sense. It also doesn't have to cost a lot or hap- pen 5,000 miles away. We believe prototyp- ing is vital to a smooth, successful production run. It cost-effectively validates manufactur- ability of design, helps avoid incredibly expen- sive mistakes during full production, creates more opportunities to innovate, and tests your boards for quality and durability. Prototype fabrication services can vary, and if you are working on something cutting-edge, there are several critical elements to keep in mind. Many manufacturers offer a feasibility assessment of your design to ensure PCB man- ufacturability and viability. This can help you avoid costly and unnecessary iteration during the prototyping phase. Layout review may un- cover expanded manufacturing needs, so don't be afraid to ask questions and make sure your prototyping partner uses processes and equip- ment that match your desired speed of produc- tion and quality of the product (Figure 2). Once an acceptable prototype has been man- ufactured, assembled, and proven, your board moves on to full production and then assem- bly. At assembly, functional components for power regulation, I/O interfaces, and process- ing are connected with the wiring of your PCB. The resulting printed circuit assembly (PCA) will be key to end-product functionality. In terms of time, money, and reputation, the cost of a do-over after assembly is more than at the design or prototyping phases—especial- ly at higher volumes. A PCA with performance problems at this point could result in delayed order fulfillment, project cost overruns, or a competitor beating your product to market— a missed opportunity for innovation. That is why choosing your assembler wisely is so im- portant. A reliable assembly partner will help you avoid costly failures associated with slip- shod production, as well as defective and im- properly installed components. Moving your PCB design through prototyp- ing, manufacturing, and assembly is the jour- ney within the journey for product innovation. Every part of it is a continuous learning pro- cess that offers an opportunity for improve- ment. That's what makes innovation both challenging and exciting. DESIGN007 Bob Tise is an engineer at Sunstone Circuits, and Matt Stevenson is the VP of sales and marketing at Sunstone Circuits. To read past columns or contact Tise and Stevenson, click here. Bob Tise Matt Stevenson Figure 2: DFM.

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