Customer Experience

Rapid electronics prototyping: full speed to a production-ready product

Smart devices are everywhere. They permeate our existence and make our lives easier in all sorts of different ways. But developing connected devices is a highly complex undertaking and fraught with risk. We’re going to show you how we, despite these difficulties, work with clients to rapidly and successfully transform product ideas into functional prototypes. 

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Today’s smart devices perform a huge range of innovative roles. They make our day-to-day lives easier, help automate complex processes, and create solutions to the major challenges facing society today. Developing and marketing a new or improved connected product is, however, complex and high risk. Why is this and how can you ensure a successful outcome? Here at Zühlke, we use the Zühlke rapid electronics prototyping process. Here’s how it works. 

In-house rapid electronic prototyping ensures speed and efficiency 

When designing electronic prototypes, it’s essential to have processes that enable you to work quickly and efficiently. Often, these are iterative. Each iteration builds on the insights and experiences gained in the previous iteration, leading to an ever better, ever more mature product. 

An in-house prototyping process enables engineers and designers to minimise the number of iterations, continually improve the product, and identify and mitigate product risks at an early stage. This ensures that the product has the right functionality, is of the best possible quality, and is as user-friendly as possible. It also boosts process efficiency during development. 

Zühlke has therefore optimised the development process so that our experts are on hand throughout the prototyping stage, from discovery through to approval. Below we’re going to discuss the services we offer for ensuring rapid and reliable validation of electronic products: 


It doesn’t matter if it’s a new product or a refreshed version of an existing one, the starting point for every successful product is a simple idea. When working with our customers, we invest time in collecting ideas and in developing a product that genuinely meets specific target group needs. Thanks to years of experience, we quickly identify which factors are unique to a specific sector and which apply more generally. That means, in particular, compliance with international and industry standards in fields such as medicine, explosion safety, and consumer goods. This ensures that product development is carried out in compliance with applicable regulations right from the outset and enables us to support our clients with any regulatory issues. 

purple components of circuit board get examined in workshop

In-house schematic and layout design 

With experienced designers and dedicated CAD software, we’re able to offer a full range of PCB development services. An in-house team ensures seamless communications, faster iterations, and better control of the design process. This step includes evaluating electronic components, checking that they’re commercially available, creating a components database, and realising a functioning circuit. The schematic is then translated into a physical PCB layout. Due heed is paid to key points such as placement of components to optimise signal integrity, minimising interference and crosstalk between traces, and adherence to design rules and standards. 

Electronic circuit simulation

Electronic circuit simulations offer numerous advantages that aid developers in designing and optimising electronic circuits. In our projects, we use Ansys software to perform transient, frequency, parameter, and thermal analysis on a simulated circuit. These simulations enable us to detect and correct potential errors and problems at an early stage, particularly problems relating to signal integrity, power integrity, and EMI analysis. 

Read our Linkedin article, 'How to tune antenna efficiency based on simulation,' to discover how to use simulations to tune an antenna and prevent wireless connection issues.  

Component management 

Right from the first prototype we identify any high-risk components, assess the risk that they might be discontinued, and put in place suitable strategies for guaranteeing the availability of replacements or identifying alternative solutions. Our component management software also enables us to identify supply chain risks, avoid counterfeit parts, and exclude the use of components that fail to comply with environmental legislation or moral principles. 

In-house automated PCB assembly 

We evaluate whether prototype PCBs should be assembled manually or by a machine, depending on PCB complexity. The key consideration here is efficiency. Automated assembly can significantly accelerate the assembly process. It enables precise placement of components on the PCB, minimising error rates. Zühlke’s in-house production line is designed to keep build-measure-learn cycles as short as possible and to avoid the need to work around manufacturing partner schedules. 

automated green pcb assembly

First time operation in our electronics lab

After assembly, we carry out first time operation in our electronics lab. We use expertly calibrated measuring instruments, including a network analyser and near field probes, to test and validate PCB functionality. 

Stress testing in our climate lab 

Electronics for both commercial and industrial use must be tested across a wide temperature range. Climatic tests enable us to identify and remedy any problems arising under adverse environmental conditions before the product is released onto the market. We have two in-house climatic test chambers for simulating the required climatic conditions. These chambers enable us to control both temperature and humidity. The duration and schedule of climate cycles depends on individual requirements and the standards to which the product needs to conform. To simulate the effect of long-term exposure to adverse environmental conditions prototypes usually undergo multiple test cycles. 

circuit board in climatic stress test chamber

3D printers 

A highly valuable tool for rapid prototyping is a 3D printer. It enables the rapid manufacture of prototype housings, enabling us to check that they are physically robust and refine the final product design. Using 3D printed parts enables us to perform physical tests on prototypes and get instant feedback. 

In-house EMC testing 

We can perform conducted interference and immunity electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing in-house. Using EMC test receivers and generators, we’re able to ensure that a product meets required EMC standards. Overall, our laboratory enables efficient EMC optimisation. 

Device approval 

Process steps such as conformity assessment, product testing, technical documentation and labelling are laborious and shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s important to note that approval procedures for electronic devices vary from country to country. Complying with requirements for selling and using electronic equipment requires careful preparation. It’s essential to ensure that all legal and safety requirements are met. At Zühlke, we make use of a broad-based pool of experience from across a range of industries, consult with relevant government agencies in our network of partners and prepare a complete set of documentation. 

Rapid prototyping process — achieving a market-ready product faster 

Shorter time-to-market, rapid design iterations, and lower cost prototype development are just some of the benefits that the Zühlke rapid prototyping process provides to clients. Our services are designed to make the process of transforming client ideas into a physical prototype quick and efficient. From the internal design stage to approval testing, you reap the benefits of a seamless transition from initial vision to a production-ready, customer-centric product. 

Contact person for Switzerland

Joel Patrizio

Advanced Electronics Engineer

Joel Patrizio is an electrical engineer with a specialisation in microelectronics. His experience focuses on the development of electronic circuits from the idea to series production.

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