What Are PCB Prototypes and Why Are They Useful For Developers?

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A prototype is the initial, full-size and (hopefully) functional form of a new design. A PCB prototype is the building blocks from which you create this new product.

Developing that embryonic concept to a design blueprint, and then from a blueprint to a marketable product is the most difficult task that developers face. In our experience not many designers get it right the first time round and it takes a few Pre-production PCB drawingattempts to get the product to a fully functional stage. But the reward of seeing the first finished product makes all of the hardship worthwhile.

Circuit prototypes help smooth out the development process, allowing products to be created cheaper, faster and more successfully than shotgun roll-outs.

Is your idea a little complicated?

We love some of the more ‘out-there’ ideas that developers bring to us, and love it even more when we can make them happen. There is no doubting that developers know how to dream big –but sometimes these dreams are a little too big. By creating a prototype you can test if a design works without committing too many resources. Then if your design doesn’t work first time you can tinker with the PCB and live component layout, repeating the process at the least possible expense.

Get a better idea of your system requirements

Traditionally, when designing products, developers have used interviews and focus groups to try and gauge exactly what customers want out of a product. Often developers will build products suited to these customer specifications, only to find that it wasn’t quite what they had in mind. Using a basic prototype will help market research teams better conceptualise the product, helping you generate more accurate specifications.

Concrete products for concrete funding

Electronic products tend to have a hard time getting funding from stony-faced investment groups. This owes a lot to the nature of the market, particularly in the wake of the dot-com bubble which turned risk adverse capitalists off of techy types. That said, if you approach a potential investor with a functional or partially functional product – rather than just an idea or scribbled drawing – you will have a much greater chance of securing some funding. By helping people to visualise your product, as well as demonstrating that it will actually work, you will help investors visualise profit.

Get an extra pair of eyes on your design

Circuit manufacturers have seen it all. While a seasoned developer may have created 100 circuits, manufacturers have seen, implemented and tested thousands of PCBs. Our competent team will offer clients advice on how to maximise circuit space – or in certain rare circumstances – if an idea is physically impossible.

The team at Hi5 Electronics have vast experience of turning PCB designs into working prototypes.  We have developed a bespoke Prototype PCB Online Shop to help make prototyping as hassle-free as possible.