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The Importance of Rapid Prototyping in Aerospace Industry

By | Date posted: | Last updated: April 20, 2021
Aerospace Electronics

Manufacturing sectors including the aerospace industry are prone to many challenges of time, cost, and technology. But in addition to these, the aerospace sector has some more significant regulatory requirements. The aerospace PCBs are expected to be of top-of-the-line performance and unmatched quality. Meeting all these requirements and demands can be challenging. For that reason, what we do is go for rapid prototyping! This offers numerous benefits for the aerospace industry to create new designs and cutting-edge technologies.

Engineers today are rapidly increasing the prototype services in multiple sectors of the economy including the aerospace sector. They design new prototype models and refine their ideas before committing to the final production designs. The rapid prototyping services are highly beneficial for the aerospace or aviation industry.

What is rapid prototyping?

Traditional prototyping has been the norm for years, but things are rapidly changing. Computer-aided designs along with new manufacturing techniques have taken over.

Rapid prototyping is the fast fabrication of any physical component, model, or assembly using computer-aided designs. This is usually done through 3D printing or additive manufacturing. When the rough design matches closely with the proposed finished product then it is said to be a high-fidelity prototype and if there are marked differences between the prototype and end product then it is a low fidelity prototype.

Importance of Rapid Prototyping

PCB manufacturers go for rapid prototyping that can aid in visualization, design & development of the manufacturing process before the final production. It is used for creating parts and models used by a wide range of applications across multiple industries like aerospace and medical device prototypes.

  1. There are numerous benefits of rapid prototyping like one can have a full picture of how products look and behave in the early stages of PCB design and manufacturing. This lets you perform changes or improvements to be implemented early in the process. The time taken for this varies from a few days to months.
  2. One of the main reasons why people go for rapid prototyping is that companies can enjoy greater freedom of design. They can create multiple models of designs, explore many more, without incurring massive costs.
  3. Rapid prototyping for aerospace electronics is a cost-effective way as it is an automated process that requires less manpower. It is one of the inexpensive ways and in fact easier to develop. By acting quickly and solving problems early on, you can reduce the risk of costly errors during the PCB manufacturing stage.
  4. Plus, it is also extremely precise as everything is automated and there is no scope for error. Being able to use computer-aided designs, the amount of material wastage is also reduced and doesn’t require special tools for PCB prototyping.
  5. PCB manufacturers embrace rapid prototyping as they will be able to cut down the time to market. They will be able to build and test the PCBs in small sections. This allows various departments to develop functional designs independently before combining them. This vastly shortens the testing time as well.
  6. Many electrical and mechanical engineers go for rapid prototyping as it makes the process of building geometrically complex parts with ease. This is so true in the case of aerospace systems. They work on multiple prototypes before they design things that fit perfectly.
  7. PCB designers can also confirm the size and shape dimensions before they go ahead with the manufacturing. They can see for themselves if all the components fit in the perfect manner and finish them while the engineers can test the performance and optimize the locations accordingly.
  8. Another benefit of PCB rapid prototyping is that companies can have the flexibility to test out different materials. Traditional prototyping processes limit the materials used for creating models. But with rapid prototyping, companies can enjoy a greater degree of flexibility creating several models out of different materials. This is more desirable for the aerospace industry.
  9. If you are aware that the materials used in aerospace applications are a bit on the high price. Rapid prototyping can provide you the flexibility for testing and evaluating alternatives on the less costly side before investing in tools and committing yourself to molding parts in the production materials.
  10. Rapid prototyping also helps designers to present new concepts to the board members, clients, and investors for easy understanding and approvals. The visualization process helps the designers to receive instant feedback from the stakeholders like customers and clients.
  11. Rapid prototyping is also an iterative process and it allows customer requirements to be incorporated into the designs easily and in a cost-effective manner. This also reduces the need to build customized products to be designed from the ground and at the same time providing greater choice and flexibility for the customers.
  12. Rapid prototyping is also a viable alternative to overseas manufacturing of prototype PCBs. OEMs can gain back control and keep it under their oversight. Many downsides like long turnaround times, different time zones, longer time-to-market, costly minimum order requirements, etc. can be overcome easily. With the same costs, OEMs can now invest in future technologies and stay competitive.

And if you are wondering what all aspects can have rapid prototyping, we would say everything! Rapid prototyping can contribute to nearly all aspects of aerospace design whether they are electronics, interior, and exterior components, or mechanical parts, etc. The aerospace industry can go for rapid prototyping right from the initial design to specialized production parts. This can even span to any repairs down the road.

The purpose of the entire process is to help the companies reduce their costs of designing and creating products by reducing the raw materials. The cost, of course, varies depending on several factors like size or volume of the part, surface finish, materials used, and what post-manufacture process is needed.

Conclusion

Rapid prototyping is a viable means to build next-generation electronic products and solutions to reduce costs and to market quickly. By adopting the latest technologies, we are capable of producing PCBs in lesser turnaround time even when the PCBs have multiple layers and several interconnects. Dense and functional multilayer PCBs can be built in as little as a few hours.

Mer-Mar Electronics is a trusted source for rapid prototyping. We offer extensive services that range from casting to 3D printing, design, functioning, mockups of individual components like control panels. We also offer prototyping services for designing single components with both flex and rigid capabilities. When compared to any overseas contracts, our in-house rapid prototyping is practically risk-free and we respect your intellectual property rights. If you are looking for a prototype or a mockup, you can always contact us.

Best Practices for designing Medical Device Prototypes!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: May 11, 2021
Medical Device Prototypes

If you are developing and manufacturing electronic devices, then don’t make the mistake of ignoring the design aspects of it. Quite often, we see that design for manufacturing (DFM) takes a backseat without any regard for the long-term consequences. Don’t think of cutting down the costs while working on designing the prototypes. It is found that products without design often take a longer lead time and are of lower quality when compared to the products that are designed.

If you are a novice PCB manufacturer and wondering how to get your design prototype for a medical device right, then you are at the right place! Of course, some of the design tips and practices provided in this article are meant for mature designs as well and not limited to medical device prototypes.

Be open to Modifications

Don’t be ambitious and over-confident of getting everything right in the first spin. Things are bound to go down but that’s the only way to abandon that doesn’t work and find the one that works. Ensure all the traces are accessible from the top layer for it is easy to cut, scrape the solder mask, and easy soldering. Make the Vias and test points large enough to easily solder jumpers to these if required. If these are placed too closely, it makes it difficult to modify, and hence some extra space between the components is required while you are designing the layout itself.

Flush out the problems early on

Medical devices are heavily regulated, and you need to be sure of the compatibility issues as you keep adding the components one after another. Even if it’s too early to test the board, you need to give the head start for flushing out the problems at the inception stage itself. Once you have the design prototype, you can look for any issues that rolled out accidentally onto the board. It is better to design in parts rather than populating it with total disregard to the early-stage testing. Remember, it’s the best to nip the issues in the bud itself before they cause chaos later.

Get ready for Multiple Iterations

The design cycle involves heavy consultations with many mechanical engineers and electrical designers. They would be aware of all the constraints of a PCB design. Often, they propose a board outline and your in-house team can hash out the possibilities and rearrange the components, connectors, and placements. You can tweak them, give the final touches, and throw them back to the design team to understand the feasibility issues. This process involves multiple iterations and also relies on accurate 3D modeling of the board, connectors, and wiring.

Ease of PCB Assembly & Serviceability

You may be paying attention to a myriad of trivia, but certain simple things tend to slip out of your mind. Your meticulous routing and placing of components are convenient for everyone? Can a human reach into the assembly and connect them to the cables? Do pads connect to the ground fill ease solderability with thermal relief connections? Can you easily export a 3D model of the board for virtual testing? How about the placement of the components? If you screw up any terminal blocks for connectors it is going to be a nightmare. You need to unscrew every terminal and remove everything for debugging purposes.

PCB Component Placement

Does your contract manufacturer use automated equipment? Do they on conveyors and fixtures for transporting products through the process? Good design practices include spacing between components. They shouldn’t be close to the edge of the circuit board. Also, avoid odd angles. By following them, you can avoid additional paneling thereby, reducing the manufacturing costs as well.

Stay Mindful of PCB Component Sensitivity

It is a known fact that electronic components do come around moisture and may have to face extreme temperatures. So, you need both moisture and temperature-sensitive components while designing and selecting electronics components. You need to be mindful of how components cannot withstand SMT reflow profiles or water wash processes. These elements may demand more labor and higher assembly costs for remaining resilient in these environments. Understand that many variable capacitors, switches, resistors, connectors cannot be simply washed or coated. Only for the water wash process, if the specified components are compatible with this process.

You also have to work with your PCB contract manufacturer during the design phase itself for determining the optimal materials for conformal coating. LEDs, connectors, and switches have a variety of heat tolerances and when you use them on RoHS PCBA, you need to make sure that they are compatible with the temperatures for RoHS processes.

Add lots of Test points

Expect the best but prepare for the worst! You need to think of the potential issues that do not go right. So, you need to add a lot of test points and put a signal trace for easily tracking the issues. This helps in easy tracking and understanding the errors rather than guessing what might have gone wrong. Having as many test points as possible on the board reduces a lot of headaches and hassles making the entire test process easier.

How about Recycling Old Circuit?

If you have any sub-circuit from the previous design that fits your current projects, why don’t you consider saving your resources by reusing that sub-circuit from the previous designs? For instance, you can switch the power supplies from one design to another. Doing everything from scratch is often time-consuming.

Reduce your Component Footprint

Identify only the essential and eliminate the rest. Try to put down the component footprint to a minimal level by getting rid of the unnecessary components. If there are any components that you might think you need but still unsure of their requirement, then it is better to bypass them for the time being. For example, an RC low-pass filter at the analog input is good to have but not at all essential. You can easily leave this out and instead put a zero-ohm resistor in its place.

How about having a ground plane?

It is recommended that you put a ground place on all layers. You can stitch these together with lots of vias. If your board has both analog and digital sub-circuits, it is best to split the ground planes to minimize the noise that passes onto analog circuits.

Conduct a PCB design review

Before transferring your PCB design to production, why don’t you conduct a design review? You can carefully review and optimize several things like layer count, component density, panel designs, and assembly tools. With proper communication with your contract manufacturer during the design and prototyping phase, you can achieve high-quality PCB designs at the lowest cost possible.

The aforementioned tips and suggestions would help increase your chances of designing good quality printed circuit boards. You can take a look at the Mer-Mar Electronics PCB design services to see if they match your specific needs. We provide design services for various industry verticals like military, aerospace, telecommunications, and more not just for medical devices.

Are you looking for PCB manufacturing, PCB Design, PCB prototyping, medical device prototypes, medical device printed circuit boards or any custom circuit board manufacturing?

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Top Considerations to Take Care while Selecting the Best PCB Prototype Assembler!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: April 20, 2021
PCB Prototype

Printed Circuit Boards or PCBs as they are popularly called, are at the heart of any device. The success or failure of the product clearly depends on the quality of PCB. Getting the right PCB prototype, therefore, is half the battle won. Additionally, with time-to-market being a major source of competitive advantage for any manufacturer these days, the ability of the PCB Assembler to deliver on time is crucial. Little surprise then, that choosing the right PCB Prototype Assembler is imperative. Without the right assembler, there is enough scope of mistakes that will turn out to be costly at a later date.

Below are some aspects to watch out for that will ensure that you make the right choice.

Expertise

First things first- the expertise of the PCB Prototype Assembler is the foremost factor that needs to go into your choice. A thorough research on whether the assembler has the necessary expertise in complex, multilayered boards that you may need is therefore essential. It is also imperative to check if the assembler offers turnkey solutions. If your requirement is for low volumes, that is a factor worth checking too. Whether the assembly is RoHS compliant, what kind of turnaround time does the PCB Prototyping Service offer, are all factors to look out for, in making your choice. You also need to check to see if the assembler has the necessary expertise to customize the PCBs as per your bespoke requirements.

Additionally, if you are looking for turnkey solutions, it will be good to check if the assembler has the necessary capability and what its warehousing, shipping etc policies are.

Years of experience

A PCB Assembler that has a large legacy behind him will be in a far better position to offer you the benefit of his experience especially when it comes to complex, multi-layered boards. In turn, what it will mean for you is that you will not have to reinvent the wheel. The assembler will be able to offer many industry best practices that will work well for you. In addition, it always helps to check the clients that the assembler has handled. If the assembler has the necessary experience in your industry, that will be a huge advantage too.

Quality‬ Benchmarks‬‬‬‬

The one thing you cannot compromise on, when it comes to PCB Prototypes, is the quality. Poor quality of the prototype can cost you a malfunctioning product as well as your reputation. Before finalizing on the PCB Prototyping service, you need to run through the following checklist:

  • What kind of technology do they have?
  • What are the tests that they run as fall as quality is concerned?
  • What certifications do they have?
  • What is their market reputation?

Other than the above factors, of course you need to ensure that they offer you competitive pricing so that the project is viable.

To ensure all of the above, it is best that you put together a process that enables you to make the right choice. The done thing is to send the PCB Prototyping USA service, a pre-qualifying questionnaire. This can address all the above issues and enable the assembler to list their strengths. In turn, it will enable you to determine the fit of the PCB Prototyping service, California with your bespoke requirements.

The next stage would be to ask for a quotation. However, to ensure that the quotation is accurate, you need to provide detailed technical information. Some of the other aspects that would be needed from your end include:

  • Quantity
  • Whether you need turnkey services
  • Functional testing requirements
  • Lead time and more

It is imperative also that you work with the PCB prototype assembler in close co-ordination. Regular meetings and updates ensure that everything is as per schedule. Also a broad detailing of your strategic plans will ensure that the assembler turns into a strategic partner and brings you competitive advantage, instead of just being a vendor.

At Mermar Electronics, we have been leading the way in PCB Assembly and PCB Prototyping Services for over 40 years. We pride ourselves on your consistent quality, quick turnaround time and excellent customer service. All our PCB Assemblies follow the highest quality standards and are RoHS compliant. You can depend upon us not just to meet but also exceed your needs, irrespective of whether you need simple boards of complex multilayer ones. For more information, Explore our PCB Prototyping Service.

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Top 9 Ways to Improve the Quality of Industrial PCBA Prototype!

By | Date posted: | Last updated: April 20, 2021
industrial pcba prototype

When it comes to prototypes, speed is of essence. Often it could mean less than optimal time spent on issues such as prototype design for assembly or testing. This, in turn, can affect the quality of the prototype. What is required, however, is that speed does not come in the way of quality. Here are the top 9 ways to improve the quality of Industrial PCBA prototype while ensuring that speed and therefore, time-to-market, isn’t compromised:

1. Keep it simple

Simplifying your prototype is essential, if you want to keep the focus on quality. Here are some things to aim for:

  • Focus on the parts of your design that need to be prototyped.
  • Pluggable cards can be a good tool to prototype smaller parts.
  • Ensure that the design works in conjunction with the vendor demo.

2. Keep the size, large

With increased miniaturization of products, smaller and smaller PCBs are a reality. However, when it comes to prototypes, it always works well to enlarge your prototype. Larger components are always easy to work with. Not only are they easy to assemble, in case there is rework required later, that can be done easily too. At the production stage, however, the design can be shrunk to the proportions required. This way both the quality and time will not be compromised in the process of prototyping.

3. Incorporate Options

Ever so often you may land up in a position, wherein, you are yet to figure out which of the two components you should go with. In the interest of time, it will work better if you put them both on the prototype with the option to enable any of them. You could set selection pins and ensure programming headers are put on the prototype.

4. Ensure the components are of high quality

If there is one thing that can make or break your prototype, it is your selection of components. It is a given, therefore, that you need to go with high-quality components from reputed suppliers. Using poor quality components may give you some cost advantage, however, you will need to face the consequences of poor quality control as also poor tolerance.

5. Ensure there is co-ordination with the assembler

A very important aspect of PCB prototyping is to ensure complete co-ordination with the assembler. With the assembly house having some standard materials and processes, adhering to them will help mitigate risk to a large extent. Ensure, therefore, to speak to the assembler, so that they are fully comfortable with the selection you make. A little time and effort spent on this will ensure that costly reworks are avoided at a later stage.

6. Choose a quick turn prototype assembly house

Needless to mention that the choice of prototype assembly house is crucial! In making the choice, one of the things that you need to watch out for, is if the assembly house is able to cater to low volumes. In case the contract manufacturer is only looking at high volume manufacturing, the prototype design and therefore quality may be sacrificed.

7. Intelligent CAD files

Ensure you share intelligent CAD files with the assembly house. This will ensure that they are privy to the complete information and that no time is wasted in back and forth communication. On the other hand, if you share Gerber files, there is always the scope of risk as also time being wasted in communication.

8. Design-for-Assembly checks

To ensure that there aren’t any costly errors later, the one thing that you must take to is to perform design-for-assembly checks. This will go a long way in improving your prototype quality.

9. Post-build inspections

Now this is a step you simply cannot afford to ignore. A number of times there could be errors that aren’t visible to the eye. Undertaking Automated Optical Inspection and 5 DX automated x-ray inspection will ensure that you can catch any errors, significantly improving the prototype quality

A quick check on each of these 9 points while in the prototype stage, can go a long way in ensuring that the quality of the prototype isn’t compromised while making sure that the speed that is essential, is maintained.

We are an ISO 9001:2015 certified company since 1999 with IPC trained employees and Triple Processes Inspection, adhering to highest quality standards for small to large PCB prototype requirements. We have an in-house quality assurance team to verify the highest quality regulations and guidelines. All the Custom PCB Prototypes are manufactured with specialized support, reliability testing and certified workmanship.

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