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Author Topic: Ordering IC samples  (Read 1301 times)
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West Lafayette, IN
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So I'm working on a project for myself that uses multichannel LED drivers. I've bought a few locally and over the internet to try out their features and one thing that is interesting is that many manufacturers give out free samples on request.

What makes me hesitant though is that obviously they are intending for companies to request these in anticipation of large orders to follow. Since I only *might* produce the idea that I'm working on, and if I do, it will be in quantities so small that they would refer me to a distributor.

So with that, is it right/ethical/not going to make them angry if I am not part of any company and request something like 3-5 IC's? For all I know, they don't care about handing out a few chips since they typically get contracts for many k-units at a time.

Specifially I'm interested in the TLC5940 and maxim7219 and digikey and others price their shipping at rates that are only economical for around >20 units so free samples are very appealing so long as it's not totally outside these companies etiquette to do so..
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West Lafayette, IN
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Maxim wrote back.

They said to please fill feel free to order samples ;D
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I recently received a couple sample LED driver ICs from Linear.  They didn't seem to flinch about sending out two of them.  The ethics are a little muddy, but I guess as long as you aren't abusing the resource (like selling the product made with samples), then have at it. If a manufacturer starts to feel like the value is not worth the cost to them, they will change their policies.
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What about elevensies? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper?

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It's probably not a good idea to do things like fill out a form using a fake company name. While unlikely that anyone would press charges, receiving products in the mail as a result of giving false information could be fraudulent. Just be honest, and if they still give you the parts then they're being cool, buy stuff from them in the future if you get the chance!
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Unique RGB LED Modules and Arduino shields: http://www.macetech.com/store

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It probably should have been mentioned earlier for people considering doing the same that when I mailed them, I made it clear that this is for my major and not just to tinker with. So for company I'm going to put Purdue electrical and computer engineering technology student (Boilerup!)
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It's probably not a good idea to do things like fill out a form using a fake company name. While unlikely that anyone would press charges, receiving products in the mail as a result of giving false information could be fraudulent.

Technically mail fraud which in the US is a federal crime.

The companies are usually good about giving samples if you tell the truth.  And if you have to lie to get the parts it is like stealing them.
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But most things (end products) are cheaper initially if you just purchase it outright. To fully develop an idea to completion costs way more than the eventual mass production(counting time and money output). If you develop an original design and you like it. Then just throw up a small site and sell widget xyz. You just need to sell 1 to become a legit business. The only thing you DON'T wanna do, is then cheat on your taxes. That would get you in hotter water. macegr (a few posts above) created some nifty RGB LED modules. Not sure if he set out to make money on it or not, but he had an idea and made it work and now he's sellin' them. . I would love to sell some of my ideas. I see it as supporting the habit. I have no problems ordering samples, because it is my goal to have a small side business by the end of the year. I order a variety from several companies. Sooner or later, you will find a product you like more than another and then yes, widget xyz might require an order of 10k maxim chips. It is weird how a hobby can turn into something bigger. Wouldn't it be great making a little money doing something you actually liked. Most folks around here are highly creative folks with LOTS of great ideas. If you are toying with this stuff, it probably means you have an idea up your sleeve too. Run with it and see where it leads. Some sick bastard somewhere invented the Furby and that sold millions.
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If a manufacturer starts to feel like the value is not worth the cost to them, they will change their policies.
Many manufactures have started charging nominal fees (usually $15) to have samples sent. Some will waive the cost if you're associated with a company or university they have a contract with.

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I made it clear that this is for my major and not just to tinker with. So for company I'm going to put Purdue electrical and computer engineering technology student.
Most manufacturers accept sample orders from students, some (esp maxim and ti) will actually let you sample non-samplable parts if you call them up as a student. I guess they see you as a future customer.

I know it doesn't apply here, but if you actually are a business, calling up your distributor (mouser and digikey count, even if they don't always care) and try asking them for samples. At least in Canada, it's the only way to get Linear and Atmel to send samples (unless you have a direct purchasing contract with them). NuHorizons has been known to help out students as well, even if you're not a customer.
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