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Quick turn prototypes suffer because by design they are fabricated quickly to prove a concept.  This translates to less time spent designing with a manufacturing mindset, less time spent designing for testing, and much less time spent under review.  Each of these factors hinders the quality of prototype assemblies.  However, product grade doesn’t have to be sacrificed entirely!  Check out these nine surefire ways to increase the quality of your PCBA prototype.

  1. Simplification

Prototype smaller parts of your design on pluggable cards.  Focus only on parts that need to be prototyped.  Work in tandem with a vendor demo or eval board to limit time sink later in the process.

2. Enlarge your prototype

When in the design phase, bigger is always better. Using larger components makes the entire PCB easier to assemble and rework which leaves plenty of room to debug and probe for the test without hassle.

3. Have options

If you haven’t decided between a selection of components, include them all on your prototype with a jumper.  Ensure that all programming headers are installed on your draft. Design your prototype on open drain nets and setting selections pins with pull-ups and pull-downs.

4. Avoid unknown sources

Only utilize components from reputable distributors. Have your prototype built at well vetted manufacturers. Cutting corners with off-brand or counterfeit components results in poor quality control and potentially banned substances.

5. Consider a quick turn prototype assembly house

Quick turners are specifically geared to meet your high-mix, low-volume setup. Contract manufacturers that are focused on high volume production will more often than not result in shoddy prototype products. Contract manufacturers are also far more likely to request changes in your design to suit their high volume manufacturing.

6. Provide intelligent CAD files to your assembly house

Intelligent CAD files (ODB++ etc.) provide all the information needed to quickly and effectively fabricate your prototype. Avoid Gerber files as they add time and error margin to prototype assemblies.

Summon Electronics is a hybrid distributor that excels at slicing cost, eliminating lead times and navigating the global market safely. Tired of banging your head against the wall on a supply chain issue? Reach out to us at (239) 228-3262.