Finally! Phase 6! This means building the first batch of a usable product. And that after all the design work, it’s time for the execution.
That’s the moment when, just before ordering huge batches of hardware, you verify your product thoroughly. Are there any overheating issues? Is the manufacturing process meeting your expectations?
This blog post will help you only if you’re developing a hardware product. But since it’s a part of the series of articles, be sure to take a look at the previous texts:
- We choose to go to an MVP. 7 phases of the software and hardware development process inspired by NASA
- Phase 1. Research
- Phase 2. Proof of concept
- Phase 3. Prototyping
- Phase 4. Feasibility study
- Phase 5. Design & development
What do we have after the hardware validation phase?
- All functional requirements: met
- Cosmetics requirements: checked
- Hardware is providing expected metrics and results: ✅
- Durability: tested
- Certification standards: met
- Pilot production line: ready to go!
What do we do at the validation phase?
In a nutshell, we want to ensure that our designs (electrical, construction, and visual) are valid. 😅
Going to mass production is veeeeery expensive. Of course, it all depends on a product specification, and more specifically, the BOM (bill of materials - the production cost of one unit) as well as the size of the batch. Your hardware may cost a few dollars or $200. You can order production of a few hundred or a few thousand units. The key is to keep your first batch reasonably small.
Unlike with software, which (usually) can be easily updated, at this stage, any mistakes with your hardware cannot be fixed. Do you want to end up with thousands of useless devices? Already paid for items that cannot be sold?
Not to mention the disposal and storage costs, the production factory’s tight schedule, or the delivery of a faulty product to your customers. I can’t stress it enough: validate your product before going into full production.
Below, I’m listing types of tests, which, performed one by one on your first batch, are bound to help:
EVT - Engineering Validation Testing
Since it’s the finish line of the development phase, validate the electronics design with the intended manufacturing process, components, and materials.
Your selected manufacturer (how to talk to and select manufacturers is a story for a whole different blog post) should prepare a small batch of PCB boards and other electronic elements according to your design. These can be put under strict test procedures to see if any problems occur (power, electromagnetic interference, thermal, communication, etc.).
After discovering a few issues, it’s common that there will be more than one EVT built. It’s not a bad thing! Again, it’s way cheaper to spend more time testing and ordering extra boards than discovering these issues later.
DVT - Design Validation Testing
Previously with a prototype, we already verified the hardware’s form factor. And since we know that the electronics won’t change, you can start validating your design manufacturing process and its outcome. For some, it might be fun, and for some, it’s a bit heartbreaking - it’s a lot of crash testing your devices.
- checking the durability of the materials
- shock resistance, dust resistance, waterproofing, fireproofing. etc
- scratch resistance, and ease of user
- if there are any molding imperfections
- build quality
- paint quality
And others, depending on your product.
PVT - Production Validation Testing
Before the blast-off, there is one last test. It’s basically a test batch of production units. Is everything ready to start mass production? Ready to give a final green light to your manufacturer?
It’s perhaps the most exciting part of the journey: getting to actually touch the product that is ready for your future users.