NPI PCBs: Trust an Experienced Manufacturer

pcb first article inspection process

The world of electronics is continually expanding as new devices and equipment develop. Transitioning these products from the drawing board to the showroom is known as a “new product introduction” (NPI). Before reaching a final design, the production cycle starts with a PCB prototype that acts as a stepping stone for further testing and development. A successful prototype will pave the way for the project’s development and, once complete, will allow production to scale for market introduction.

A PCB contract manufacturer specializing in NPI PCBs is necessary to build a successful launch. PCB prototype expertise requires knowledge of specific skills and processes to identify an appropriate PCB contract manufacturer.

New product introduction process

PCB Prototypes: The First Step of NPI Manufacturing

Launching a new product is an involved process that takes the design to the point of manufacturability:

From Concept to Hardware

The NPI process requires extensive time and resources to ensure that the final production version can balance a high level of quality against low manufacturing costs. Considerable planning usually goes into the NPI, beginning with a PCB prototype.

The Necessity of a PCB Prototype

A prototype describes the initial design and eventual product development, but an important distinction exists. Prototyping results from the initial design stages while the engineers explore how to realize their vision. This portion of the design process is experimental. Multiple designs may be necessary to find the correct configuration to achieve the specifications. 

After meeting the design specifications in the prototype, it’s possible to refine the design for mass production. This stage is the product development portion of the design process. The goal is to optimize the working prototype for production. Here, changes in manufacturability, product performance, and reliability are necessary. Product development descends from the initial prototypes, however, and the development of the prototype is essential to the project’s success.

What Kind of Prototype is Needed?

A particular NPI may utilize one or many prototype design philosophies:
tombstoning pcb assembly

Mockup – This prototype is an example of the final product but isn’t a functional unit.

pcb guidelines

Design Concept – This prototype will include some of the intended functionality of the final product to confirm the design concept, but it won’t necessarily work as a full-featured board.

best pcb material

Working Model – This prototype will function like the final product, but the board’s features may change with ongoing design development.

Semi Conductor

Functional Prototype: This prototype will work like the final product and contain its complete feature set. The design may require refinement for manufacturability purposes, but for the most part, it is fully functional.

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The Benefits of a Local Contract Manufacturer for NPI PCBs

Whether the technical innovator is a small start-up company or a large established electronics corporation, they both will need to have prototype circuit boards built. A local PCB contract manufacturer that specializes in building prototypes can help each with their unique requirements:

Start-ups and small companies

Large electronics corporations

Engineering resources to fill in the gaps of smaller design teams. Resolve BOM and assembly issues, allowing the customer to focus on design.
Documentation services for customers without these capabilities. Extend the customer’s R&D resources without increasing their fixed overhead.
Project management to maintain production consistency (copy exactly). Repair or replacement of older PCBs that are no longer supported internally.
Box build capabilities instead of working with multiple vendors and manufacturers.  Engineering and support of older products that are no longer in service.
Component sourcing expertise instead of maintaining their purchasing network. Component engineering of older products to monitor part lifecycles and availability.
We are proud of our prototype work at VSE and how it has helped our customers achieve their goals:

  • Stealth camera development for catching poachers hunting endangered animals in Africa.
  • Developing a next-generation internet-smart ‘home assistant’ concept.
  • Re-engineered the wiring of a complex medical system, which resulted in identifying and correcting hundreds of documentation errors. This reconfiguration resulted in turning it into a production-ready unit.
  • Assisted a customer with their new silicon fabrication equipment that radically outperformed the nearest competitor by more than ten times. This has resulted in near-perfect yields due to the manufacturability features we incorporated.
  • Reversed engineered a complex micro-controller-based semiconductor processing pump with no documentation due to age. This production included redesigns of significant portions of the circuitry, resulting in a functionally equivalent replacement with increased performance and better manufacturability yields.
Picture of an African Elephant spraying water
Elephants like this are better protected with anti-poaching technology cameras and sensors

40 years at VSE, we have offered the best PCB prototype services to transition designs into final products.

From component procurement to design for manufacturability, our engineering teams understand what is needed to introduce a successful new product. Our manufacturing teams have built every type of printed circuit board imaginable, and they will apply that experience to your product. We have the experience, skills, and capabilities that you need. Let us show how we can help you with your next NPI PCB.                              

If you are looking for a CM that prides itself on its care and attention to detail to ensure that each PCB assembly is built to the highest standards, look no further than VSE. Contact us today to learn more about partnering with us for your next project.

From component procurement to design for manufacturability, our engineering teams understand what is needed for a successful new product introduction. Our manufacturing teams have built every type of printed circuit board imaginable, and they will be applying that experience to your product to ensure that it is built well.

We have the experience, skills, and capabilities that you need. Let us show you how we can help you with your next NPI project.

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