The Nerd Side Of Life

How to Turn Your College Electronic Project Into a Sellable Product

Engineering students pour their hearts and souls into their college projects. Many of them even dream of turning those projects into sellable products. Their hopes get a boost when they see their projects getting praise and good grades. With that, they begin to think of ways they can sell their projects to the public.

Software and mobile apps are easier to sell. Following a few industry standards, students can turn such a project into a sellable product within weeks. Mass production also doesn’t take much time, as all it takes to replicate these products is to duplicate the source code.  

However, turning electronic projects into sealable products is not easy. Even then, following the right steps and knowing where to get the necessary resources can make things somewhat easier. 

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So, to help you out and guide you through that process, we’ll talk about the steps you need to follow to turn your college electronics project into a sellable product. 

Selecting Core Electronic Components 

Make a list of everything you might need for the product. Your college project can act as the base model for it. Components that are common in almost every electronic project are microchips, sensors, displays, connectors, power sources, resistors, capacitors, and ICs.

For the prototype of your product, you can buy these components in small quantities. However, when you’re going for mass production, you’ll have to order in bulk. Therefore, try to build a connection with distributors like AdaFruit, SparkFun, Arrow, Future, and Digikey for sourcing the components in bulk.

Rethinking the Schematic

Since you’ve already completed the electronic project, you should have the schematic design ready. So, all you have to do now is go through it, and see if you can or should make any changes to it.

Rethinking an existing schematic should have two objectives. Firstly, you should see whether or not you can make the product smaller or compact. You can do this by rearranging the ICs a little, adding new ICs, opting for a stacked design instead of a layered one, and so on. 

After that, see whether or not it’s possible to make it more efficient. You can achieve this by playing around with the microcontroller or onboard computer (OBC).

Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash

Designing the PCB

The PCB – Printed Circuit Board – is the main component of your electronic product. So, you need to be extra careful while designing and printing it.

The tighter you pack your components the longer it’ll take to design the PCB layout. That means for small products like wearables or pocket gadgets, it will take more time to create the final PCB design. Products that consume a lot of power or require wireless connectivity support also need more time for PCB layout designing.

After you’re done with the design, you simply have to send it to a manufacturer and get the final printouts. 

A professional PCB design needs a lot of effort. Even those working in the electronics industry for years make mistakes. These mistakes result in faulty designs, which lead to faulty connections. Such PCBs end up burning core components and can often cause fire hazards.

You don’t have to do the design yourself if you’re not confident enough. Leave that to a professional and experienced PCB design and manufacturing company like MJS Designs. With the resources and skilled manpower they have, nothing can go wrong with your PCB design. They’ll even help you work out the mistakes you might have made in the design and suggest corrections.

Another advantage of working with companies like MJS Designs is that they can send you the prototype immediately once it’s ready. After you’re satisfied with it, you can place your bulk order. 

Programming the Product

Programming the product means programming the OBC or the microcontroller unit. This program is called firmware. 

The firmware will enable the product to act on certain instructions. It’s the core component that makes the product function as a single unit and operates under a single brain.

Testing and Debugging

In the testing and debugging phase, you’ll have to push your product to its limits to find its breaking point. You might have to redesign or rethink a lot of features if you’re not happy with the product’s existing breaking point. Always try to see how the product works in the worst-case scenarios. That will tell you how well-built your product is. In electronics, such testing can include voltage tests, current drop tests, stability tests, networking tests, and so on.

The last thing you have to do is obtain a few certifications for your product. Most electronics require upwards of $10,000 to get these certifications. However, these certificates are necessary for you to sell your products. 

Some of the certifications your product will need include – 

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certification
  • Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification
  • Conformité Européenne (CE) certification
  • Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certification
  • Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) certification.

Once you have the certifications, you can sell your product in the US, Canada, and Europe. 

There you have it – a step-by-step guide on how to turn your college electronic project into a sellable product. Now that you know what to do, time to take the next big step and turn that college project of yours into a profitable electronic product.

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