The rise of rapid prototyping in the electronics industry

Electronics does not traditionally come under the remit of design engineers – the complexities of electronics design being a step too far for most mechanical or even electrical designers. However, electronics is becoming more accessible. The rise and rise of development boards like Raspberry Pi and Arduino, originally aimed at students and hobbyists, ..

..has resulted in new doors being opened for engineers wanting a fast and effective way of prototyping or building low volume systems.

Martin Keenan, head of applications strategy at RS Components, commented: “For an industrial engineer who hasn’t designed from component level this access to electronics is pretty new.”However, this does provide access, without requiring a full working knowledge. For example the Atmel Cortex M3 microprocessor that is at the heart of the Arduino Due development board has a datasheet of 1500 pages – an impenetrable information source for design engineers.

“Industrial and mechanical engineers haven’t got the time or the resource to evaluate everything if it is prohibitively complex,” said Keenan. “So these engineers are becoming integrators and cobble things together – I think all engineers are when it is at the proof of concept, idea testing and prototype stages.” … (Read more)