Circuit Board Prototypes

Written by Adam Blau
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There was a time not so long ago when it was prohibitively expensive for designers and inventors to produce small amounts of prototype circuit boards. Mass production was easier; manufacturing plants were happy to configure their machines to produce thousands of boards. But to create a physical prototype of a single board (or even ten or fifty boards) just didn't make financial sense.

The Circuit Board Revolution

Thanks to remarkable advances in computer technology, it has become possible for designers to create working prototypes of electronics devices for a relatively inexpensive price. Computer-aided design (CAD) software has made it possible for circuit boards to be created and tested with a high degree of accuracy. These designs can be imported into the actual manufacturing systems with ease and speed.

Because the design stage has become so fluid with the production stage, it is not as much of an ordeal for manufacturers to reconfigure their components for individual designs. Instead of having to map out individual circuit structures with each new potential circuit board, now manufacturers simply need to load in a new design and their prototyping machines will do the rest of the work for them. An individual design can be set up in a fraction of the time it used to take in the days before advanced computers.

The designer and inventor have an advantage, then, that they didn't have before. Now they can quickly test out a variety of configurations for their designs for a notably small cost. Rather than having to etch out impossibly complex designs by themselves (a process which can be fraught with errors), designers can use a computer to configure and, subsequently, manufacture a circuit board. They have a flexibility in design that has never been possible until today.


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