Creating a complete product - what kind of services are required?

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by dor, Aug 24, 2015.

  1. dor

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    An electronics product mostly include a software, a PCB and a chassis.

    The software part is mostly easy - anyone what initiates a project would probably know how to program.
    But the other requirements are quite difficult to achieve, for most of the people.

    So which services are available in order to create both the PCB & chassis?
    What kind of information am I expected to give them in order to create the PCB/Chassis? Which software help to create those files?
    How do I combine all the parts to a single, complete product?

    Note: The chassis may be plastic, metal or other or a hybrid.
     
  2. AnalogKid

    Distinguished Member

    Aug 1, 2013
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    First, your assumption that anyone who thinks up a product knows how to write the application software, user interface, and test routines is completely unfounded and probably wrong. Without any details about the kind of product it is impossible to say for sure, but generally speaking, hardware people think hardware is easy, software people think software is easy, and both are wrong.

    AND you left out something. What kind of product? What market? They make a huge difference.

    ak
     
  3. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    You are assuming that one person does it all.
    - marketing people had a concept of the pricing constraints and desirable criteria for the product (size, material, durability, decoration, graphics/text, displays, sensors, input types and user interface criteria ...

    - A mechanical engineer and/or industrial designer designed the chassis.
    - As they designed the chassis, they already decided on a material class (plastic, wood, metal) and even a material-forming process in mind (vacuum forming, machining from an block, injection molding, blow molding...)
    - they send their design to an electrical engineer who designs the circuitry with the limitations in mind.
    - cost estimates are made and approved by marketing (product management, manufacturing and procurement)
    - the EE designs are prototyped for functionality and, if it works and all the components are within budget, they are drawn onto a circuit board that fits the chassis. If it doesn't fit or is too expensive, then there is a negotiation with all parties and designs or specifications are adjusted.

    On and on it goes, finding a mold maker so the plastic chassis can be injection molded. Finding the right platic for price, durability and finish (and paintable/printable if coatings or finishing is needed).

    Find a PC board manufacturer. Negotiate line widths, quality testing, coatings and durability for various environments.

    If software is involved. A programmer was needed long ago. He may consult with a psychologist who is an expert in human/machine interaction to make things feel 'natural' to the end user. They may negotiate with marketing and product management on the display and feel of the interface - even a specific brand of switches or buttons. Changes redrawn.

    Then the chassis is molded and lots of people involved.

    Final assembly - pcb to chassis, display, power, ...

    Packaging. (Select materials, select message and design, security/anti-tamper features.). Work with Corporate identify team to position logos, corporate image compliance, ...

    Create user manual

    Create marketing materials

    Send one or more complete units for CSA or UL testing.

    Analyze components and value added in each country to determine country of origin and scribe that into mold and add to documentation.

    Send for REACH compliance verification and materials testing if sold in Europe

    Call an insurance company to cover any recalls for quality or safety. Select a company and for the policy.

    Keep moving on to the next task. Go crazy and call in sick for a mental health day or week because there are SOS many details that you cannot take it.

    Sit in a training class on how to improve your project management skills.

    Launch the product. Wait a few weeks or months.

    Sit in a meeting to learn how unsuccessful the product is and how much inventory we are sitting on (because marketing told us to order everything in lots of 10,000 pieces from digikey to save money on components). Customers hate the product because it doesn't fit in their pocket, specifications are not clearly defined and it too expensive because gold plating plastic is not cheap. Find out that marketing has already associated the projects failure on a 3-day delay during testing - in your department. They made a PowerPoint (with animations) and presented it to several Vice Presidents describing the delay in your department. They encourage other marketing groups to use 3rd party testing labs so their projects don't get delayed and fail.

    Marketing team asks Suppky Chain/planning team to present details of disfunctional inventory at the next staff meeting. They carefully select seats right behind you so they can point at your back whe the VPs ask why the product is not selling and we have so much inventory.

    See what I mean when I say one person cannot do it all. The biggest issue with trying to do everything with one person is the backstabbing and blame. It is just not possible to do a good job in a one-person situation. Also, working in teams is not possible. There are generally two types of teams. One team has a bunch of people with different skills and you have experts doing everything. See, not possible with a one-person situation. The other type of team is a bunch of experts in the same area all brainstorming the best solution. These types of teams are really not expected to yield a better answer but, instead, to dilute blame so nobody gets fired, so we are back to blame - but you get my point.

    Why should not someone get fired, because that means head count may shrink and one VPs team will look weaker and less skilled than another's team. Can't show weakness. Also, they know that marketing always blames engineering but they don't want to fire their golfing buddy.

    I couldn't sleep - can you tell?
    Cheers.
     
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  4. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    Are you trying to say there isn't an app for that?
     
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  5. dor

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    Hi guys!

    Thank you for the answers!
    Especially GopherT's post, made me laugh :D

    My thread talks about people who find "electronics" as a hobby and are trying to learn how to build a complete project/product.
    They mostly already dealt with software programming, and already successfully created a few small electronics projects (with "wire-wrap", but no PCB).
    So they know a thing or two.

    So yeah - this is supposed to be a "one man job", w/o the marketing etc - because that it is not needed.

    I'm interested to know the entire process for creating a full/complete product.
    Who will create the chassis/mechanical parts for me? How do I tell them what I want to create? Probably I need to sketch all the specification for the mechanical parts on a paper or something... But I guess that some software exists for this.
     
  6. blocco a spirale

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 18, 2008
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    That's a radical idea o_O
     
  7. dor

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    Why?
    That doesn't sound radical at all.
    This product doesn't have to look especially good - it is not necessarily a product for sale.

    I think that people should learn also how to create a complete product.
    This allows a person freedom to choose to do whatever he/she wants.
    Think of all the possibilities if you knew programming, electronics & mechanics! You could create anything up to the limit of your imagination!
     
  8. Sensacell

    Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2012
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    You may laugh at Gopher's post, but it's actually very realistic.

    I'ts one thing to "design a product" - quite another to have this process result in a single dime of profit.

    Product development is a nasty, expensive, stress-producing affair, like having a baby, and still some are born defective.
     
  9. kubeek

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 20, 2005
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    Doesn´t go well with
    Either it is a one man job and you design everything, talk to the manufacturers on what they can and cannot do, redesign accordingly and have them make it, OR you have someone design it for you.Then it stops being a one man job.

    Like GopherT said in the beginning of his rant, you need to know what you want, especially with the casing - mainly you need to decide if you are making it from a folded sheet metal or a plastic injection mold or die cast aluminium or hand forged unobtainium. Then you need to gather as much info on the process and its capabilities and caveats and design accordingly in hope that the first prototype will be at least a little bit usable and resembling the final product. Then do a few more rounds designing and failing until you are at least a little bit satisfied with the outcome.
     
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  10. BReeves

    Member

    Nov 24, 2012
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    I'm a one man show and have put together a few successful products. It usually goes something like this....

    1. Write down what it is you need to do.
    IE: Control motorized camera lens using a computer.
    2. Outline and define what is needed for the project, good time to create a block diagram.
    IE: Use relays controlled with a Micro Controller to supply voltage to lens motors.
    3. Design electronics & draw schematic
    4. Write code for micro controller.
    5. Find a suitable plastic box to house the circuit board.
    6. Write code for a Windows application that talks to the Micro via a USB port.
    7. Order parts.
    8. Use Express PCB to layout a circuit board and order board(s).
    9. Build circuit board.
    10. Layout the board mounting and connector locations for machining housing cutouts and holes using AutoCAD.
    11. Use my mini mill to make the cutouts and drill holes in the housing.
    12. Assemble and test.
     
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  11. blocco a spirale

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 18, 2008
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    Don't worry, I was joking.

    Here's an excellent free CAD program that produces Autocad compatible drawings. I use it all the time and it is ideal for designing project hardware but also block diagrams, flow charts and even schematics:

    http://www.3ds.com/products-services/draftsight-cad-software/free-download/
     
  12. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    Gopher got it right in post #3.

    I've done lots of projects from conversation to plug-it-in, but there is no way it was only 2 or 3 steps!!!
    More like weeks of designing, planning, gathering parts, prototyping, testing, modifying, right down to filing the face plate to mount the switches properly. So, yeah, you can do it. How many months are you allowing?
     
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  13. dor

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Feb 20, 2009
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    Thanks guys.

    I think that I understand the process of how to design a product.
    Also, I'm willing to sacrifice all the time that's required.

    My problem is:
    1. Who are the external agents (a.k.a. services) that will help me?
      For actually manufacturing the PCB / chassis / mechanical parts etc.
    2. What is the software that I should use in order to send the design specifications to the agents?
      For PCB, that will be the well-known OrCAD.
     
  14. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    As mentioned above, find any software that outputs Gerber files of your finished design for the PCb. For the case/enclosure, you need a CAD format that lets the manufacturer know what you mean. If you are having it 3D printed, an .stl format. If a bent sheet metal design, then a standard orthographic output is needed - even hand drawn. It all depends on what you are trying to do. If it is not a secret, let us know and we may be able to point you in a direction that is helpful.
     
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  15. #12

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    How are we supposed to guess who you will hire when we don't even know what country you're in?
    When you do figure out where you are, you need to find the local shops and the not-local shops and make your decisions based on the cost of making your product...or do you want to hire somebody to do that, too?
     
  16. blocco a spirale

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jun 18, 2008
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    Try google and when you find a manufacturer you like ask them what format they require the designs in.

    I really don't understand why you find this so difficult; It's never been easier to locate these kind of services, most of us even managed to do it before the internet existed.

    Imagine that...a world where people actually thought about things for themselves and then went out and did stuff rather than wasting time sitting in front of a keyboard asking questions....
     
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  17. #12

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    We seem to be getting a lot of that lately.

    "I want to draw a cartoon book about electrons but they don't really behave like I want them to, please say it ain't so...for several hundred posts."

    "I want you to design a universal light bar controller and display system for all sizes and colors and patterns of flashing for all emergency vehicles everywhere on the planet, but I won't pick up a pencil until you tell me every aspect, right down to what size wire to use."

    Now we have, "How do I make a finished product, from the idea to the pricing, without telling you what the product is, or even what country I'm in, using only this keyboard on my computer?"

    We need a quicker way to spot these time wasters, and maybe a way to mark them.
     
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  18. blocco a spirale

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    Jun 18, 2008
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    Well, if it wasn't obvious from post#1, the last two lines of post#5 spelled it out in 6' high neon letters.
     
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  19. GopherT

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    Nov 23, 2012
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    Look up Nathaniel Hawthorne and see if he inspires any ideas.
     
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  20. #12

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    Nov 30, 2010
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    A .........
     
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