The fourth part of our Wireless Design Cycle webinar explores the final stages of the process - pre-production and mass production. Antenova's Antenna Applications Specialist Geoff Schulteis explains testing requirements and best practice for bringing new products to market.
Verifying a device operates as expected in the hands of consumers is a step not to be missed. In fact, all cell carriers and network operators will conduct testing on devices that are to launch on their network. In North America, due to geographic reasons, this testing is extensive – and the passing criteria is renowned for being difficult. 3 out of 5 devices are thought to fail certifications at the first attempt.
Not everyone has access to sophisticated anechoic testing facilities – but finding a vendor who has can drastically reduce the time and money spent trying to achieve certifications. Over-the-Air testing can allow a designer to assess the performance of a design, all without delaying a time-to-market date.
Handing over finished designs to manufacturers presents one of the final hurdles in the design process. There are several factors to consider while preparing a wireless device for production, not limited to:
- Assembly. Different types of antennas will require various forms of assembly. Surface mount antennas are supplied in tape-and-reel, allowing easy, automated assembly.
- Materials. Minor changes to materials, particularly for PCBs, can alter RF performance.
- Manufacturing processes. Reflow soldering and similar processes can expose RF components to high temperatures. Check component data sheets prior to applying reflow processes.
In production, there are other commercial factors that come into play. Assembly times, component costs and production scalability become key concerns.
For high volume products, SMD antennas offer better value. FPC and case-mounted antennas need to be assembled by hand. Whereas SMD antennas can be assembled using pick-and-place machinery.
The design cycle for wireless products is intentionally made to begin at the early stages of a design. By considering antennas and RF early on, designers are able to create an optimised design that performs well, without unexpected performance drops and failed certification efforts. This means that all of these challenges will be ironed out well in advance of production.
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