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70 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2020 Flexible Thinking by Joe Fjelstad, VERDANT ELECTRONICS Designers have, from the earliest days of the printed circuit industry, been under-appreciat- ed. PCB designs were typically simple, single metal layer affairs, and design activities were considered a mundane (and even boring) task of "connecting the dots;" thus, they were given little respect. Much has changed over the years, as integrat- ed circuit technology has advanced, and data rates and processor speeds have climbed. Over recent years, I have found myself often saying that designers are arguably the most important people in the development of electronic prod- ucts. The decisions they make will impact virtually every manufacturing step in the fabrication and assembly of electron- ics products. The designer's role is so vital that, over the years, mul- tiple touchstone guidelines have been added to the mix that seek to address myriad concerns that are all part of meeting the goal of producing the best possible products. "Design for" Guidelines The first order of concern for any design is that it simply meets the functional goals of the prod- uct. This can be accom- plished in many ways, but beyond clearing the bar of "Does the product work?" there are many other litmus tests that are being more frequently applied to the evaluation of a completed design. These include design for manufacturing (DFM), design for assembly (DFA), design for testing (DFT), design for the environment (DFE), design for reliability (DFR), design for excel- lence (DFX), and there are doubt- less other "design for" guidelines for other aspects that are deemed impor- tant to an individual types of products. All these guidelines provide important considerations relative to the product design in review. When applied, all of these "design for" guide- lines combine to create prod- ucts that can be made both reliably and profitably. Designing for Profitability (DFP) Good product design is arguably the corner- stone of every profitable product. Make a prod- uct that results in a loss or less than optimal re- turn, and you are either headed for bankruptcy or irrelevance. It is possible to make unprofit- able products as one climbs the learning curve or to gain or control market share (many gov- ernments subsidize products for this purpose). However, you must nevertheless offer the user Profitability: A Vital Design Requirement

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