Pros and Cons of Prototyping Board Design

Posted 11/24/2020 by AdvancedPCB
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Are you creating a new printed circuit board design? Even though you might feel that you know exactly how to design the PCB, you will want to have a prototype first. Prototyping board design carries with it several advantages. Below, we will be looking at the advantages, as well as the problem of using a traditional breadboard for prototyping.

The Pros of Prototyping Board Design

Although the world of technology moves quickly, it also moves intelligently, or at least it should. This means that before a circuit board can be used in electronics, it should go through plenty of testing to ensure it does what it is supposed to do. The best way to do this it by prototyping the board design.

Going through a prototyping phase allows you to see whether there are any issues with the board that will arise when it is being used. You can note the errors and places where you can make improvements to the board before going into full manufacturing mode. Once you have your design created and sent to AdvancedPCB, for example, our engineers will test the design. This helps to ensure that everything is working as it should.

You will also find that prototyping the board design will help you to save time and money. If you find that there is a problem with the board early, it will be easier for you to make changes to get the board to where it needs to be. You won’t have to worry that your boards don’t work and that you will have to go back to the proverbial drawing board after you’ve ordered a few thousand of them.

You will also have more peace of mind knowing that your design works even before you place an order for one. This makes projects far easier to handle from the design perspective, as well as giving you confidence in your design.

The Cons of Prototyping Board Design

There aren’t many cons when it comes to using prototypes. However, it will depend on how you prototype the board design. If you are using a breadboard, which is what many people do because it’s relatively simple and it is how many people learned, it can cause problems.

The problems stem from the fact that these breadboards tend to have limitations compared with prototyping a board using software. They tend not to be a good option if you are working with a design that has high voltage or that is extremely complicated. It can also be difficult to “map” exactly what you are doing, and this could lead to mistakes down the line. Software, on the other hand, can catch these issues and eliminate them before you have a test board manufactured and sent to you.

You will also find that breadboard prototypes have trouble dealing with higher and more precise frequencies. Since boards today utilize surface mount technology that thrives with higher frequencies, it might be difficult to make a viable prototype using a breadboard. The breadboard strips also typically have a high resistance and could cause stray capacitance that can cause problems with the prototype. You might end up with a board that should work but doesn’t, simply due to the limitations of the board.

Fortunately, you can use software that can help to mitigate the problems of the standard, traditional breadboard.

Prototyping Board Design Using Quality Software

There are many software options available today for designing printed circuit boards. While we might be biased, we believe that our option, PCB Artist, is the best. It helps make the prototyping and the design of boards much faster and easier. It allows you to test out different designs and components to ensure everything on the board works well together and it can provide the results you need.

While there are some expensive PCB software options available, this doesn’t mean that they are the right choice. Because we offer a full manufacturing facility, and we want to make sure our customers get exactly what they need, we provide our software free. You won’t have to pay anything to use PCB Artist.

Just because the software is free does not mean it lacks in features. We have more features than the paid software many people are using. This is a fully-featured piece of design software that offers free, live technical support.

It’s professional-grade software that is sure to provide you with a faster and easier method of designing your boards. Some of the features of the software include a controlled autorouter, component autoplace, individual colored nets options, ratsnest connections optimization, and multipage schematics.

Once you design your board, you can test it to make sure that it works. We even provide a free engineer review to ensure it will work. If you would like, you can then order a handful, or even just one of the boards. It can be sent to you so you can then put it through its paces and make any changes that could be needed to improve the board.

Our goal is to make the process of getting quality boards that work as simple and as fast as possible. You will never have to use another plastic breadboard again.

What’s Right for You?

Unless you are 100% certain that your boards are perfect and that there are no potential issues that could arise, you should consider getting a prototype. It allows you to look for any small details that you might have missed. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Take the time to check out AdvancedPCB to see everything that we have to offer in addition to the PCB Artist software. Our manufacturing facilities are state-of-the-art, and we can provide you with a fast turnaround no matter how many boards you might need to order once you are sure your prototype works. Learn more about our services and facilities to see why we might be the right solution for your needs.

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