There has never been a more exciting time to be actively involved in designing new electronics.
From wearable tech to integrated building controls, healthcare applications to scientific instruments, digital gadgets are permeating almost every aspect of our lives — and we are only just scratching the surface of what the electronics industry can deliver.
However, it may come as no surprise that designing, developing and testing an electronic device or component is not an easy task. Most consumers seek simple, easy-to-use gadgets that help optimise, improve, or streamline daily tasks and functions. Yet, the hardware and electronics design that makes this possible is far from simple.
Like any new product, the development cycle for electronics products involves passing several milestones. So, what is the process for manufacturing electronics products, and what do businesses need to know before getting started?
Diving into electronics product development
In today’s world, electronics are becoming smaller, smarter and more connected, with new capabilities and applications introduced every year.
As a result, taking a product from idea to reality is a complex, multi-stage process.
Taking the time to determine what role a new product will fulfil in the already saturated electronics market is essential. So, developers must conduct extensive research before any product designs are drawn.
The earliest stage of developing new electronics should always consist of a thorough analysis of the factors that will inevitably determine the final product’s success. This investigation includes assessing market demand, competitors, patenting and costs — all of which will help shape the rest of the design and manufacturing processes.
Proof of concept and design
The design process will vary depending on the product type and project scale. Some companies may start with a proof-of-concept prototype: an early template made from inexpensive materials that will provide a rough outline of the concept to work from.
After it has been determined that the product will be fit for its purpose, a developer may then begin drawing up 2D and 3D models of the end product and designing the circuit schematics and printed circuit boards (PCBs) it will need to function. Product engineers must also consider the compatibility of the device with IoT (internet of things) technology and device-to-device communication, ensuring chosen sensors and materials permit seamless data transfer.
Prototyping and testing
Once all involved parties have signed off a design, a manufacturer can begin developing product prototypes.
At this stage, unforeseen issues may crop up and lead to additional adjustments. Every product that enters the market should have undergone several revisions to ensure it performs the way it is meant to and conforms to quality standards.
Product developers may also run trials to refine the product further. For example, miniaturised wearable gadgets such as smartwatches must be user-friendly and as compact as possible, which might require redesigning components and circuits to ensure the end product delivers on these variables. Alternatively, product engineers must ascertain that electrical components designed for high pressure or harsh environments can withstand these conditions.
Finally, when a prototype has been optimised and budgets are agreed upon, developers can pass the design onto an electronics manufacturing service (EMS) provider that will transform it from concept to a physical product.
It is critical to find a manufacturer that will continue performing quality checks and testing throughout manufacturing to flag and fix any issues as they arise. Where possible, we advise partnering with an EMS provider that can handle every step in the process to avoid the logistical problems associated with working with multiple outsourced companies.
Creating electronics products that stand the test of time
According to a report on the state of electronics new product introduction in 2021, as many as 20,000 new consumer electronics are introduced every year.
With competition this high, it is crucial to seek the guidance of an electronic product design service with specialist knowledge of the relevant sector and audience once you have decided to pursue an idea of your own.
EC Electronics has a dedicated electronics product realisation and development division that provides the expertise and industry knowledge needed to design a quality product. Our product development processes use state-of-the-art computer-aided design (CAD) software tools to transfer your design from an initial concept to a fully designed PCB, including hardware and firmware.
We are also passionate about sustainability and ensuring it is considered at every stage of the development cycle. Up to four-fifths of a product’s lifetime emissions are determined by decisions made at the design stage. So, with the threat of irreversible climate change at an all-time high, our team is committed to ensuring we mitigate the impact of our products and processes throughout design and manufacturing.
EC Electronics specialises in PCB assembly, cable assembly and box build for various markets and applications. To discuss the needs of your next project, get in touch with our team at +44 (0)1256 461894 or email email@example.com.