Any manufacturers worth their salt know that prototyping is an extremely important step in the innovation process and needs to be planned for and invested in, but many aren’t aware that simply prototyping isn’t enough. For prototypes to be worth the amount of time and money put into them, they also need to be able to be built rapidly.
As the need for manufacturers to increase their time-to-market speed increases, the need for faster prototyping also increases. The balancing act between trying to get to the market before the current technology becomes outdated can be very difficult to achieve. It is also necessary to make sure that you are giving customers enough polish and care within your products to keep them attracted while, at the same time, trying to expedite the process as much as possible.
Of course, the continual introduction of new high-tech electronics is only making the process of successfully prototyping more difficult. The result of new expectations is that often malfunctioning and improperly designed products appear on sales shelves because the designs for these products have not been allowed the proper amount of time to be tested for any potential defects that they may begin to show once they are on the market. When the market quickly evolves past the point of which a design would be useful, it can be considered to have become a waste of both time and money.
Prototyping is usually the step that takes the longest in the whole process and, as such, needs to be shortened in practical ways because new software and features can only be tested out on prototypes. Let’s take a more in-depth look at why rapid prototyping is so important.
The best PCB prototyping methods all have one thing in common: short turnaround times. This means that new prototypes can be created merely within hours, whether it be the initial design or one of many future revisions. It’s virtually invaluable to consider the lead time for any prototyping method, whether or not you are creating prototypes yourself in-house, or using an outside service company to supply PCB prototypes to you.
Most people end up having to wait weeks to get a prototype built so building a prototype in-house could save you a significant amount of time due to these long-lead times.
Increased Ability to Edit Designs
When you can build and buy prototypes as you need them, you gain the ability to evaluate your board designs and see how effective they will be. It’s impossible to gain this kind of insight without the production of prototypes, and the more you have produced, the more you will learn. Making prototypes also can give you the very important ability to find out what flaws are in your design before they move too far along in manufacturing the process. Prototypes allow you to identify potential errors and fix them before your production build goes live. This also allows you to reduce your time-to-market speed.
With a high number of prototypes being made available, your PCB designers will have much more freedom to explore ideas. Working on prototypes allows them to exponentially increase their knowledge of your design and try new techniques that allow for better functionality, while at the same time meeting your deadlines and keeping the momentum of a project rolling.
Cooperation Between Departments
Another huge benefit to very rapid PCB assembly prototyping services is the fact that it also allows you to create and introduce new hardware variations into the very same line of a product. Both private and business buyers are in the market for hardware that is specifically tailored to fit their individual needs. This means the introduction of products with new colors, sizes, features, and price points as well.
The ability to have your PCB prototypes quickly produced greatly reduces your cost of development and the time required to create a new product. This, in turn, gives you the ability to drastically shorten your time-to-market, which then gives you a valuable leg up on the competition. There are, in fact, so many benefits to using a PCB assembly company to get your prototypes built as quickly and affordably as possible, that this should be the priority on your list when attempting to bring a PCB design to mass production.
When your designers can exchange ideas based on how their theories work out with real electronics, they can be better able to innovate and adjust to challenges, as well as to correct any errors at a much faster speed than they would be able to achieve without prototypes. The ability to get these prototypes rapidly and at an affordable price, therefore, is crucial to the success of a PCB design on its way to mass production.