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Breaking Down the “Hard” in Hardware

I just returned from Web Summit 2014 in Dublin where I was on a panel discussing the theme of hardware being hard and how to make it easier. In preparation, I pulled together some thoughts, which I thought I would share.

Everybody says hardware is hard, but why? There are several reasons.

  • Since hardware involves atoms, it requires a greater range of skills than pure software.
  • Expertise in mechanical, electrical, and firmware are required.
  • To ensure the products work as intended over their specified lifetime, quality is critical.
  • Rather than just hitting compile button, it’s necessary to build physical “works-like” and “looks-like” prototypes that are subject to the laws of physics.
  • Atoms cost money, and can’t be instantly changed if another lap around the track is required. Many parts have significant lead times (often over 12 weeks!).
  • There can be significant work to go from a 3D printed prototype to a design that is ready for manufacturing and tooling.
  • Get any of these steps wrong or pick a bad partner, and the penalty is steep and unforgiving.

It is easier than ever before to build a working prototype. What we’re focused on at Dragon is what happens next – how to go from prototype to high volume. Our mission is to make the insanely complex process of manufacturing consumer electronics feel easy.

Here’s how we’re doing it. First, by making the “unknown unknowns” known through education. To solve a problem, you need to understand it first. This is core to everything we do at Dragon to help entrepreneurs build successful companies. We’ve created a series of videos and slide decks on how to select a factory through design for manufacture on injection molding.

Next, we’re creating a marketplace to connect companies who have a working prototype connect with trusted manufacturing partners. Over the last 300 combined years of experience, we’ve created an amazing ecosystem of partners and trusted contract manufacturers that grows daily. These are the factories you won’t find on Alibaba.

If you’re interested in learning more about working with Dragon Innovation, please get in touch with us.

One Comment

  • Bill commented on December 9, 2014 Reply

    Spot on article. Living and working in Silicon Valley, I am continually surprised at the naiveté I encounter at startups and established corporations concerning what it takes to develop hardware. In the minds of some executives, low cost devices from China also mean easy to design, build, and for low to no cost.

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