The Product Design Process: Phase 2

This blog follows on from the Concept Generation Blog that details what is expected during Phase 1. The focus is on moving from a paper-based design to a prototype.

There are many different types of prototypes that vary based on the requirements for the next iteration of the product. In some cases, this might be a space model, in others, it might be a functional PCB or even a full product prototype that is both suitable for looks and feels like prototypes.

The Prototyping Process

In order to produce a product, a prototype is essential. The development process allows for a number of iterations of plastics, PCBs and software culminating in a device that can be handled and tested. Critical parts of the design will be prototyped as a priority over parts with lesser risk. Each prototype that is produced aims to be closer to the production form and function.

Different project requirements lead to different prototypes, if the requirement is for a looks-like prototype this is unlikely to have electronics, whereas a works-like prototype is unlikely to fit into the final industrial design concept. Conficio will always consider the requirements of the electronics, functionality and size constraints so that looks-like and works-like prototypes can be combined during a size reduction phase of work.

Prototyping is often the most rewarding part of the Product Design Process as this is when the design is realised and development based on DKs and off the shelf components moves towards a bespoke product.

Design Process - Phase 2

At Conficio, a 3 Stage Approach is taken to producing prototypes:


During the Develop Stage, the architecture design document will form the basis of the electronic Design Document that outlines the detail of the electronic design. This forms a bridge between software design and electronics. This allows software engineers and hardware engineers a common place to find details such as ADC scaling factors, Pin definitions and other critical data. The electronics document should start to define the minimum PCB area since the package selection for the given components is finalised.

The industrial design concept progressed to a point where the external structure of the prototype can be 3D printed (although this is not always done). Any high-risk areas will certainly be printed, such as seals in a submersible or floating product.


In order to make PCBs, a schematic and a layout are required. The Detail Stage takes the Electronic Design Document and creates both of these documents. Generally, Software for the embedded devices will start to be developed during this phase. This process takes place on Development Kits and aims to validate the Electronics Design and the schematic that has been created.

The CAD is further refined to ensure that the mounting and UI requirements for the prototype are able to be created. Conficio always considers the final product during this phase and will therefore ensure that, even if the prototype is 3D printed, the design is suitable for injection moulding or the final method of manufacture.

At this stage, manufacturers for the final product will start to be identified to ensure that their design rules are met, this covers both the PCBs and the plastics. It is critical to ensure that these design rules are satisfied to maximise the product yield whilst minimising the component cost.


There will be a gap in engineering between the end of the Detail Stage and the start of the Prototype phase, this is when the PCB(s) and plastics are manufactured. Once Conficio takes delivery of these parts, some are checked for fit and assembled into a first prototype.

As this is the first point when real PCBs have been provided to the software team, the existing software can be ported onto the PCBs and can be finalised. The PCBs are usually set to work by the software team as they develop the code for each individual device on the board and create the system layer.

The final step in the Prototype phase is the Gap Analysis. This is critical to determining the level of functionality of the prototype compared to the goal, be that the full specification or a subset of. There may well be modifications to the prototype that can be made that will allow all of the requirements to be met, alternatively a second or even third prototype may be required.

How Prototypes Can De-Risk a Product

Phase 1 will have identified certain areas of technical risk for a product. It is up to Conficio, and our Clients, to ensure that risk is managed throughout the project. A simple prototype can specifically target areas that are deemed to be of concern and therefore reduce the cost overhead of multiple iterations of a full product.

After risk mitigation and a completed Gap Analysis, the design is ready to be taken to production. This will be covered in our upcoming Phase 3 blog.

Work with us

Conficio understands the requirements of the product design process. We are able to build on an existing concept or set of requirements to generate a prototype or support a certain part of the product development journey.

For more information, get in touch with us today to learn more about prototyping and how we can help you turn your idea into a reality.