From an Arduino Prototype to a Commercial Product

An overview guide on key questions/tools required to move your Arduino project to production board and a commercial product.

May 22, 2018

So you have created a working prototype. What are the next steps in moving from an Arduino Prototype into an actual product?

There are many moving parts in creating a connected product. From Mechanical and Electrical engineering to data management, user experience (Mobile app development) to shipping and logistics.

The following Channel Guide will help you:

  • Better understand licensing and restrictions on the Arduino platform.
  • Filter different tools available to help you on your way.
  • Find and filter different suppliers and vendors for each stage of the process.

Background

Arduino Licensing

Can Arduino be used in commercial products?

From Arduino's FAQ "

Yes, with the following conditions:

Physically embedding an Arduino board inside a commercial product does not require you to disclose or open-source any information about its design.

Deriving the design of a commercial product from the Eagle files for an Arduino board requires you to release the modified files under the same Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. You may manufacture and sell the resulting product.

Using the Arduino core and libraries for the firmware of a commercial product does not require you to release the source code for the firmware. The LGPL does, however, require you to make available object files that allow for the relinking of the firmware against updated versions of the Arduino core and libraries. Any modifications to the core and libraries must be released under the LGPL.

The source code for the Arduino environment is covered by the GPL, which requires any modifications to be open-sourced under the same license. It does not prevent the sale of derivative software or its inclusion in commercial products.

In all cases, the exact requirements are determined by the applicable license. Additionally, see the previous question for information about the use of the name “Arduino”.

A summary in plain English from Arduino forum

You can use Arduino to make a commercial product following some simple rules.

* if you have made your circuit as a derivative of the Arduino board you must release the design files with a CC-BY-SA license like the original cad files

* If you build your circuit as a shield that plugs on top of an Arduino board all the circuit is yours and you don't have to release anything

* The programs written on Arduino are yours. if you have modified the core files or one of the libraries you must make your modifications available to everybody

* You can call your product in any way you like as long as you don't call it Arduino

* If in the documentation for your product you want to write "Powered By Arduino" that would be appreciated 🙂

* There is no revenue sharing for any derivative work (unless it uses the Arduino name see http://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Policy )
having said this.

The code on the Arduino can be read after it has been programmed.
It will be available only in binary form but can be programmed on another board (i.e. copied) There is a "fuse" that you can burn that will make the code unreadable but it will also make it hard for you to update your code once it's on the board.

Commercial Projects Using Arduino

There are quite a few reasons that once you are moving to full production you will want to move away from the Arduino board for your actual product (cost, speed, licensing, etc). The platform was never really intended to implement to be used in this way.. (That being said it has been used in a range of open source commercial products like 3D Printers, etc over the years)

In the Resources Guide section below we will provide high level overview of next steps in bringing your product to market using other tools and components.

Resources

1) Financing

Hardware Accelerators:

At this early point it might be worth taking your prototype and using it to apply to a hardware accelerator to help you with mentors and tools to get you to the next stage in the products life.

2) Prototyping

Designing your own printed circuit board (PCB)

After you have moved from breadboard to circuit board design you will probably want to jump in and get a handful manufactured before jumping into large scale production.

Low volume PCB assembly (PCBA) solutions

3) Parts & Components

Bill of Materials (BOM)

Resources

Mechanical / Enclosures

Electrical

All Arduino models are based on Atmel microcontrollers (Arduino Uno uses the Atmel Atmega328P), except for the 101 which uses an Intel Curieso its not a bad place place to start from.

Connectivity / RF Certification

The FCC requires certification for any digital device which they define as

A digital device is a device or system that generates and uses digital timing signals operating at greater than 9,000 cycles per second (9 kHz). Many types of electronic equipment and consumer products are digital devices because they contain circuitry using such digital timing signals.

You get the entire product certified (it doesn't matter if you have one or twenty circuits within the product that operate above 9kHz)

Pre-Certified Solutions

4) Manufacturing

Partners (Dragon InnovationPCHBlue CloverAMS)

Resources

5) Logisitics / Distribution

Logistics Software (ShipwireStitchShipstation)
Shipping APIs (Shipbeat, Shippo)
End-to-End (FloshipShyp)

6) Product Identification and Data Management

OTA Updates and Device Management

  • Resin - "Bringing the benefits of Linux containers to the IoT. Develop iteratively, deploy safely, and manage at scale."

Customer Billing

Terminology

  • Gerber File - "The Gerber format is an open ASCII vector format for 2D binary images.[1] It is the de facto standard used by printed circuit board (PCB) industry software to describe the printed circuit board images: copper layers, solder mask, legend, etc"
  • FPGA (field-programmable gate array) "An integrated circuit designed to be configured by a customer or a designer after manufacturing – hence "field-programmable".
  • Bill of Materials (BOM) "A list of the raw materials, sub-assemblies, intermediate assemblies, sub-components, parts and the quantities of each needed to manufacture an end product."
  • Surface-mount technology (SMT) is a method for producing electronic circuits in which the components are mounted or placed directly onto the surface of printed circuit boards (PCBs). An electronic device so made is called a surface-mount device (SMD)
  • Product Requirements Document (PRD) is a document containing all the requirements to a certain product. It is written to allow people to understand what a product should do.
  • Cost of Goods Sold (commonly known as COGS)

Specialist Firms

BitBox: Arduino/ARM develop-for-growth pathway.