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Guest blog by Make UK Advantages Partner, ABGi-UK

For a number of years now the pressure has been on consumer goods manufacturers to continually reduce the size of finished goods, just look at how small your latest mobile phone is compared with your first “Nokia brick.” 

The demand for devices that have increased functionally while occupying less space in our pockets and bags, not to mention with minimal weight, generates its own pressures and challenges for the designers and the engineers charged with making things fit on a pinhead!

While it might sound like a simple enough task there are a number of challenges that require some serious effort to resolve and, while to many of the engineers involved, these challenges are part of their daily “problem solving routine” to us they are a testimony to innovation and the result of some serious research and development.

At its most basic level there is the challenge of designing components themselves and configuring layouts to reduce the space occupied while maintaining performance and functionality can be tricky. The redesign and miniaturisation of components can demand new manufacturing techniques and the use of new materials, involving computer-based modelling and/or iterative prototyping.

It can in some instances require the integration of components, developing one component which may perform the functions of a number of obsolete components.

Increasing the concentration of electronic componentry in a confined area can create a build-up in heat and electromagnetic fields, leading to overheating por electromagnetic interference both of which can have disastrous results on performance and life expectancy of products. 

The challenge for designers and engineers is to develop layouts which aid cooling through freeing up air flow and dissipating heat and at the same time creating a modular design which disrupts and obstructs the EM fields being created in working components. These days this process has been eased by the use of computer aided design which allows engineers to model airflows and predict the impact of shields on EM forces, reducing (but not negating) the need for prototyping and testing.

Another facet of resolving the issue of heat build-up and EM interference would be experimenting with new materials to carry heat away from the core of a component toward the surface or to act as a partial barrier reducing the impact of EM forces. The experimentation with and appropriation of new materials in advancing circuitry or enhancing structural integrity of thinner enclosure walls. 

The interesting thing is that all of these endeavours undertaken to deliver smaller more compact consumer products can be eligible for R&D tax relief and could net the companies behind our incredible shrinking devices significant funding back in to their companies

If you would like to learn more about how you could leverage funds back in to your business through claiming R&D tax relief on your product development projects call Sandy Findlay on 07807 739033 or email her/him at [email protected]