Variations of Rapid Prototyping
In our last post, we took a closer look at Rapid PCB Prototyping, discussing some of the advantages that prototyping offers a company that is involved in producing PCB Assemblies. We reviewed how Rapid PCB Prototyping shortens the life cycle of a product, giving manufacturers a head start on the production process while reducing the chances for error or faulty designs.
We also reviewed how prototyping encourages the development of more complex and complicate PCBs –given that they can be tested prior to full development, manufacturers are able to experiment with designs to achieve the optimal PCB design.
In this article, we’ll take a look at four of the primary type of PCB Prototypes – looking at the advantages or uses of each variation:
- The Functioning Prototype
A functioning prototype has all the characteristics and functionalities of the final production board; in a sense, it is an exact replica of the final PCB, with the exception that it may have been produced with a slightly different process than high-volume PCBs, including on different equipment.
The value of this type of prototype is that the functionality of the PCB can easily be tested, with faults relatively easy to detect and repair.
2. The Working Prototype
Similar to the Functioning Prototype in that it has all the intended functionality of the final PCB Assembly, but some elements may be missing or incomplete to determine the best circuit route or another functionality factor of the final board. Typically, several working prototypes have produced that lead to the Functioning Prototype or to in the final PCB.
3. Visual Model
This model reflects the final design but is not a working or functioning prototype. It is usually developed early on in the design process.
Often the first stage in prototype design/production, the aim of this design is to prove that a circuit design in workable and reliable. It typically lacks the functionality of the final PCB Assembly.
As noted, PCB designers often utilize more than one type of Prototype in the design process of the production project.
The ultimate goal of Rapid PCB Prototyping is to give the manufacturer the assurance that the optimal design is being used for the production of the final PCB – thus reducing errors, saving time and money, and making the production process as efficient as possible.