Although a new hardware product development usually takes longer than expected. Naturally, the time frame depends on a range of aspects. In particular, the complexity of your product and the resources you have. However, you can estimate your development time frame at least to a certain extent. This article will help you to do so, breaking down the stages of product development and evaluating the time needed for each of them.
1. System block diagram
A block diagram development is an outline of your product’s system architecture. The time needed to build it depends on the complexity of your product and the extent to which you have already specified the details. So, this stage can take from an hour to weeks of work.
2. Critical components selection
This stage involves the selecting of the critical components for your product. Among these components, there are microchips, sensors, displays, and other specific details. This stage usually takes from one to four weeks and also depends on the complexity of your product.
3. Schematic circuit design
After the components selection, the electronic circuit should be schematically represented. This visual representation involves not only critical components but also the support ones that connect the system together, e.g. resistors, inductors, etc. The process of schematic circuit design takes up to five weeks. On the basis of this stage, a Bill of Materials (BOM) is created in order to list every electrical component of the circuit.
4. PCB design
Further, on the basis of the schematic representation the actual Printed Circuit Board (PCB) layout is designed. This process takes from two to five weeks, however, there are some types of design that can add complexity and time to the process. In addition, if you want to ensure the correctness of your PCB design, you can ask another engineer for a review. This process will add a couple of weeks to your product development time frame, however, It can save you time and costs for the future.
5. Order PCB prototypes
After the PCB was designed and reviewed, you can order PCB prototypes. This process usually takes two weeks or so. If necessary, you can order expedited service in order to make the process faster.
6. Firmware and software development
The time frame for this step, again, depends on the complexity of software and firmware. The process can take from one to six months. Also, it is important to note that the time frame depends on whether your product also requires a mobile application or custom PC software. Mobile application development usually takes more time, especially if the appearance of software is important for your product.
7. PCB prototypes evaluation and debugging
PCB design is a complex process and some bugs will definitely arise at the evaluation stage. In most cases, a design is not exactly right from the first time, so you will definitely need to review and debug it. So, you should plan this stage to be even longer than other stages. It is indeed difficult to forecast the time necessary for this step since you don’t know what problems will arise during evaluation (obviously, if you knew it, you would have fixed them already).
The minimum time frame is five weeks or so, however, most likely that the process will take more time. This is because at this stage, you will have to order a new, revised PCB, and conduct debugging again until your PCB will work. This process may be repeated over and over, so take your time and be patient.
Hopefully, this article brings you more understanding of time frames for hardware product development. If you want to ease this process, you can always hire electronic design professionals.