Rapid prototyping is the fastest way to verify new designs for a product: Elemaster decided to create a new hi-tech prototype centre based in Montevecchia (Italy), with a corporate structure completely dedicated to it. The company talks about the rapid prototyping in electronics, highlighting the key factors and the processes involved.
Why is prototyping so important?
The prototyping process will provide the necessary feedbacks based on ISO standards to design engineers, who are going to validate the product, before releasing it to volume production. Cost reduction and BOM rationalization are part of the process as well. This is valid for PCBA and Box Built Level. It is fundamental to provide those feedbacks in the shortest period of time, using dedicated assemblies’ facilities and specific procurement approaches.
What are the key factors?
In order to be successful, the factors that cannot be missed are: speed; a dedicated team; fast procurement activities for electronic component and for custom mechanical parts, with effective daily communication between the team and the customer; high performing manufacturing teams, and manufacturing lines 100% dedicated to prototypes.
What are the processes involved?
The processes involved are product configuration, material procurement, assembly and full DFX feedback. A dedicated product configuration engineer is creating the technical data into the PDM, AGILE (Oracle); the association between customer or MFG part number with internal Elemaster p/n is done comparing what already exists inside the Elemaster database with more than 100k active references in stock. The aim is to maximize communality and minimize the number of references to be purchased. Component risk management is part of our process: with a visibility of 3 to 5 years we can identify possible risks in term of lifecycle (obsolescence trends).
For material procurement we created a separate warehouse for prototypes only. We can run the demand as needed, considering on hand main Elemaster inventory as well. High skilled prototype procurement team works on procurement from standard components to complex mechanical parts with large use of 3D printing for metal and plastic parts with high cosmetic requirement.
Besides, in Montevecchia we have a wide range of machineries: fast assembly SMT line, double solder wave for Rohs and not Rohs productions, manual assembly stations, and Class 7 clean room for high reliability application assemblies. We can offer a dedicated laboratory space with the possibility to host customer technical team for joint activity in the early assembly stage of complex products.
During the assembly phase, we focus on all the aspects of the manufacturing process. Starting from design for supply chain (where we are working on materials procurement and AVL optimization leveraging on Elemaster data base, component lifecycle management and supply chain optimization worldwide) to design for manufacturability and design for testability, we ensure that all the operations are carried out with the lowest cost permitted by complexity and volume requirements.