Before you begin mass production, you will need to go through the process of certifying your product with different regulatory agencies, depending on the geographical areas you are launching in and your product type.
This can be a time-consuming, complicated, and expensive process. There are different certifications for different markets, for instance, FCC for the US and CE for the European market. In addition, different specialized industries also have additional certification requirements. Examples of the most common rules that can apply to electronic products are EMC (electromagnetic compatibility), RF (radio frequency), SAR (specific absorption rate), safety, and environmental, to name just a few.
Concise information on certification is not easy to find, but some good resources for founders of hardware startups have emerged in recent times.
The writers of The Hardware Startup: Building Your Product, Business, and Brand, Renee DiResta, Brady Forrest and Ryan Vinyard, suggest that startups consider certifications during their design and prototyping phase in order to reduce cost and rework. They also recommend that startups approach a local test lab early on in their product development process. Test labs can help you identify which tests your product will need to pass. This can affect your design, so it can be helpful to get feedback from a test lab earlier rather than later. They can also help you with early testing of final prototypes that can help identify elements of noncompliance before the final certification test. A test lab can save you lots of time in researching specs and provide proper design guidelines and in the process make for a smoother certification process.
Keep in mind that if you change your product in any way it will have to go through a whole new process of recertification again – leading not just to additional costs but also delays in delivering it to market.
Global Certifications For Makers and Hardware Startups by Andy Eadie is another reference guide for makers and hardware companies who intend to launch an electronic product. The eBook answers some of the most common problems that makers and hardware companies face to launch a product:
- A top-level overview of testing categories
- Step-by-step processes to obtaining FCC and CE compliance
- How to work out what standards apply
- How to take advantage of FCC and CE exemptions
- How to select the best third-party test lab
- What are the regulatory implications of open-source hardware and software?
- Labelling requirements
- Pre-compliance options
- What are the pros and cons of wireless modules?
The book primarily focuses on EMC and RF certifications, because they apply almost universally around the world, but many other types of certifications are also covered. The book also provides a guideline of how to determine which certifications are applicable to specific products.
Eadie is the owner of EMC FastPass, an online platform that provides video training, eBooks, and design review software to help companies pass EMC and RF testing the first time. The platform is a great resource for hardware startups worldwide on global certifications.