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Topic: Prototype to actual usable (maybe commercial) product (Read 270 times) previous topic - next topic


Hi everyone

If one were to convert a typical Arduino UNO based project to something that is commercially viable, how would one go about that process?

From what I understand, it involves getting either an ATTiny85 or an Arduino Pro Mini. Then there is the questioning of soldering on the PCB boards.

But how do I make an industrial-grade product that I can potentially sell to people?

Thanks a ton


Work with an engineer to make your own PCB that parts are assembled onto.
Some examples I have done & offer:
Programmer using SMD '328P, no PC required

Quasi-development card using '1284P - FT232 for USB, RTC, SD card, RS232 buffer for 2nd hardware serial, prototype area for adding a chip or RF module or ...
Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years.  Screw Shield for Mega/Due/Uno,  Bobuino with ATMega1284P, & other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  my website.



My company makes pre-production prototypes, so hopefully I can give some helpful advice.

If you're making a product based on an Arduino prototype, then you will need to have some robust hardware and software designed. Often Arduino prototypes are proof-of-concepts and validate that the different hardware modules you have connected together can function, but you still need to make sure that you're code is good and catches errors and recovers, or at least fails gracefully. For this, you may need a software engineer / firmware engineer.

Regarding creating custom hardware, you can embed an existing COTS Arduino (such as pro-mini or ATTiny) into your device, but a good option si to design a custom PCB based on the extremely helpful open source circuit designs that Arduino provides.

You can view and modify an Arduino circuit and PCB layout using Eagle CAD. If you want to be able to program the custom board the same way you program an Arduino, then you will need t flash the Arduino bootloader onto your custom board using an ICSP header, and another Arduino as a programmer.

For pre-production prototypes, the main thing is that your custom PCB is functional, however if you are making a salable product, it will need to pass certification tests, such as CE marking or FCC Testing. So additional design considerations will need to be taken for that.

Your options to get this done, are: Learn all the electronics and software development yourself, outsource one or all of the tasks to freelancers, or outsource to a product development company.

Although doing it all yourself may be tempting, I find people who try this are often the ones whose projects take longer to finish, or never get completed. Even if you get a friend on board to assist, it's better than going alone, it gives you some accountability.

Getting a freelancer is a great way to go, it can be fairly cheap. If you're more comfortable with the software, you can focus on making that rock solid, and get a freelancer to design your PCB. PeoplePerHour.com is a good source of freelancers. The fact that you will have paid for something is usually a good incentive to make sure you complete your part of the project, and your freelancer may chase you up if he is dependent on your work.

Once you and your freelance team have completed designs, you'll need to find somewhere to make a small test batch of assembled PCB's. There are lots of places in China, and you should be able to get boards fabricated and populated at a reasonable price. We recently made a batch of 5 and that came to about $200, including components and shipping to the UK.

Outsourcing to a product development company is probably the most expensive option, but in my opinion can give the best results, and cause you the least effort. I specialise in pre-production prototypes, but work a lot in developing IoT systems, novel sensors, wireless communications systems and more. If you're interested we are www.think-engineer.com, but that's enough plugging.

After you have a working manufacturable system, you need to get the product certified, and gear up your manufacturing companies to be able to produce them effectively in quantities that you need.

Also, if need your product to have a nice plastic enclosure, then you'll need it designed, prototyped and ready for manufcture.

I hope that this helps, and good luck with your development.



You have the proper way to market well spelt out above,  but would suggest you take stock of your idea first.

While its all too easy to think your project is unique, a bit of searching and you will probably find there are already similar devices out there that  do what you are thinking or can be easliy modifed to do so.

Sounds hard, but I always say, if its such a good idea, why hasn't it been invented /produced before ?

Also consider the most basic things like the cost of producing a board in its final state vs the selling price; how many units need to be sold to recover just the development costs ?


... But how do I make an industrial-grade product that I can potentially sell to people? ...
Every project, and every product is different. I don't think there are specific steps that would be the same in all cases.`Develop you project first, then determine what you need to do to commercialize it. At this point, it's all hand waving.
Wubba lubba dub dub!

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