Things to consider when designing components

Jon Lawson

Every great electronic product starts with an idea. If young Robert Lucky had been too shy to share his idea for an adaptive equaliser in 1961, we would not have modems. If Lucky hadn’t gone on to brief a manufacturer with his design, we might not have personal computers. A great electronics idea can change the world.

Bringing a product to life

When you’re thinking about approaching an OEM like EC Electronics for advice, consider the Design for Manufacturability (DFM) process. This could be understood as asking an expert the question, ‘how feasible is it to make my product?’ Consider DFM is a constantly evolving field of expertise, as manufacturing companies innovate and automate more stages of the process.

That being said, you need to assess how ‘ahead of the game’ the OEM is, what advice they can give you, and if they can bring your product to life without serious amounts of hassle. 

Things you definitely need to discuss when designing for manufacturability include the following.

Allowing potential problems to be fixed in the design phase. At a first meeting probable production problems are addressed by discussing the processes available. The order in which it is built, the automations available, the ways it could be made, and what makes it more expensive, or less expensive, as you go. Scalability and where you’ll run into further costs are important to flesh out too.

Choosing raw materials to suit. Creating a prototype involves important decisions about materials in order to have a fully-functioning, high quality product. For example, the type of raw material, the form of the raw material, dimensional tolerances and secondary processing aspects such as finishing, all effect the end quality of the product.

Sticking to set guidelines for DFM. It’s important to adhere to various mechanical tolerances, rules and common checks. For PCB product realisation, the new product introduction (NPI) stage can determine if a process may be done automatically by machines e.g. surface mount technology (SMT) component placement and soldering, rather than by hand.

Adoption of an NPI stage. The physical layout of integrated circuit designs includes a DFM methodology to make them more manufacturable. What seems like a good idea on paper, will be improved at the NPI stage for things such as functional yield, parametric yield, or their reliability. Basically, how long it will last. Remember, for your customers, durability is important down the line and can become your unique selling proposition.

The final stage as you turn your thoughts into action is manufacturing and distributing your product to market. Helping entrepreneurs and established businesses to design an idea, manufacture it, create a prototype, test, and distribute it worldwide is the most effective way to take a NPI to market.