Reverse engineering is a process wherein the given product, component, software is disassembled and analyzed to study the design and working in detail. A new product, component, or software is made based on this study, which may be an upgraded version of any existing product. There may be duplication in this process; however, the new product is never a copy of the original one. This is a process commonly followed in manufacturing, electronics, IT industries. Such analysis is necessary for upgrades and to overcome the flaws in the original product. This post discusses the details of reverse engineering and its applications and benefits in electronics contract manufacturing.
What is Reverse Engineering
When making a product or software, certain steps are followed. For instance, when making a software application, the stages comprise the idea or concept, design, analysis, coding, testing, implementation, and maintenance. In reverse engineering, these steps need to be reversed to be able to test the code, see the analysis and design and fix bugs to improve it. The same is applicable in electronics manufacturing. Reverse engineering is the opposite of forward engineering, which traverses the conventional path from the formation of an idea, to logic-based designs, and then the physical-level implementation.
How is Reverse Engineering Applied in Contract Electronics Manufacturing?
In electronics, recreating circuit board designs is one of the prime requirements, and reverse engineering helps achieve the same. If this circuit board is relatively new, it is likely that it has a complex design with through-hole technology and lot of miniature components mounted on it. In this case, reverse engineering is required to check the complex design, components, and their details. Here are a few steps are taken to carry out this process:
- The checking of the components may be done visually or by removing the components if required, and going through the available documentation.
- At times X-rays or a meter may be used to check the interconnectivity of these components.
- There may be some obsolete or unknown components detected.
- After determining their design and functioning, a new schema is designed.
- Based on the design, the new circuit board is designed.
- Based on the new functions and design, the source code of the software controlling this circuit board needs to altered accordingly.
- The new circuit board is made, assembled, and tested to check its functionality.
- The documentation is updated accordingly.
Benefits of Reverse Engineering in Contract Electronics Manufacturing
There are many benefits of reverse engineering in most sectors. In electronics, this process is widely used in PCB layouts. Here are some benefits of the same in electronics:
- Reverse engineering facilitates redesigning the PCB based on its basic design and does not introduce errors, which photocopying does. This is especially useful in case of legacy systems.
- Especially, in old PCBs, it is used to remove obsolete semiconductors, which are now non-compliant as per the environmental norms.
- When upgrading, you can use the existing checked components, and hence save time and cost.
- With the new design of the PCB and the associated software, the functionality of the component also improves.
- In case your company does not have the intellectual property rights of the said product design, you cannot make its clone. In this scenario, it is still possible to recreate a product from the basic design through reverse engineering.
- With reverse engineering, you can restore and repair worn out electronic circuits, reduce wastage pertaining to damaged and scrapped boards, and create cost-effective designs.
Applications of Reverse Engineering in Electronics
Here are a few application areas of reverse engineering in electronics manufacturing:
- 3D prototyping for rapid product development (RPD)
- Upgrading legacy systems
- Design for Manufacturability (DFM) analysis
- Identify cases of patent infringement
If you are looking to upgrade your legacy PCB designs, look for an expert team in reverse engineering, which can offer you end-to-end services from analysis, design, and restoration to documentation. Janssen Engineering Group has expertise in electronics reverse engineering services. They can help you with your product design and overcome the challenges in your existing electronic product.