3 reasons why you should think about production during the implementation phase

The time has come: the implementation of your design starts. Tens or maybe hundreds of technical requirements have to be realized, in order to ultimately deliver a working prototype. One of the dangers is that you are fully committed to implementing the functionality. The result: too little attention for the manufacturability and testability of your product. This affects the production process, costs and testing of the product. What happens if you don’t think about this properly? And what are the benefits if you do consider the impact on production during implementation?

1. You increase the manufacturability of the product

The first reason to think about production during implementation is better manufacturability. Ultimately you want to produce the product in a certain quantity. For this you want to set up a process that is as smooth as possible, in which simple assembly and cost play an important role. The sooner you pay attention to this, the higher the chance your product will be easier to produce.

Tips to improve the manufacturability of a product

  1. Consult with your manufacturers beforehand.
    Know the possibilities (and impossibilities) of your PCB manufacturer, your EMS, plastics manufacturer and your final assembly partner.
  2. Consider the limitations within the PCB manufacturer's technology classes.
    There are limits to how small and narrow the copper can and distances can get. The smaller they are, the higher the technology class. And the more expensive the PCB.
  3. Think of the limitations of your assembly partner (EMS).
    A limitation to the solderability can be, for example, copper balancing, or a strange mix of components with a large difference in thermal mass.
  4. Think of the limitations of the manufacturer of your housing or other plastics.
    Plastics can show relatively large shrinkage or deformation after injection molding. Plastic parts and housings do not necessarily have to fit in practice.
  5. Consider your partner's limitations for final assembly.
    How should the product be assembled? Can the staff do this? Or are expensive machines needed?

2. The product is better testable

A PCBA or printed circuit board must not contain any manufacturing defects. Therefore, a PCBA must be made testable. Before you start producing a prototype, write a Test Specification. Here you will find how to test all the functionalities of your PCBA. To make the PCBA easy to test, add test points to, for example, circuits and power lines.

While writing the Test Specification you will probably discover a lot of points where you want to add a test point. Later, when the product is made in larger batches and the product is automatically tested by, for example, an FCT, these test points come in handy. This means you don't have to place them in all kinds of places where it no longer fits. The manufacturer of your test tooling does have restrictions for the spacing of, for example, a bed-of-nails. So once again: consult with your manufacturers in advance.

3. You save a lot of costs

If you think about production early, you can save a lot of costs. At the start of the process you are faced with a world full of possibilities. The costs of these changes and possibilities are still low. As the process progresses, your options diminish and changes become more expensive. So try to make your scope as wide as possible at the beginning of your design process. The wider your design scope, the more variables you can oversee and the cheaper you can make a product.

As the process progresses, your options diminish and changes become more expensive

Costs per change increase dramatically over time

Expand your options and reduce costs

Thinking about production during the implementation phase has many advantages. Even if your project may never reach a later stage, it's important to think about it. The product will be easier to test, easier to produce and ultimately cheaper. We often only think about the assembly, the choice of certain materials or the omission of them at the end of the development project. Unfortunately, your options are already limited and the costs for the measures taken can be considerable. It also takes a lot of time and ultimately has an impact on your time to market.

In short; if you include possible production issues in your first iteration, your options will be plentiful and the costs are relatively low. A good starting point for a successful product!

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