Pcb Prototypes

Written by Adam Blau
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In years past, small companies and individuals would find an expensive proposition in circuit board prototyping. The costs associated with designing and fabricating a real-world, fully functional prototype printed circuit board (PCB) were incredibly prohibitive for companies of smaller means. Instead, only larger companies had the resources to create prototype PCBs of new equipment, either because they had their own in-house plant or because they had a tremendous amount of capital to hire outside their firm.

PCB Prototypes for Just About Anyone

With the advent of incredibly powerful home computers, as well as the development of user-friendly consumer-priced design software, printed circuit board prototypes are no longer the exclusive domain of the elite. Now, just about anyone with a computer-aided design (CAD) application and a spark of imagination can go about creating complex, functional printed circuit board designs. What's more, there are companies that can inexpensively render these designs into usable, high-quality PCBs.

You can engineer an electronic invention and test it in a virtual environment right on your home computer desktop. Then, once you're satisfied with the results, you can send the CAD file or several graphics files to a PCB fabrication facility, where they will actually use your plans to create functional prototypes of your circuit board. Depending on the complexity of your board and the size of your order, some companies may offer you PCBs for under $100.

The ability to prototype and test functionality has created something of a revolution in the electronics industry. What was once solely in the realm of larger electronics manufacturers is now in the hands of the average hobbyist. With the cost of printed circuit boards and prototyping so low, why not try to design your own electronic devices?


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