First and most importantly, as of this writing everyone at Voltera is safe and symptom-free. We took action on this crisis early and set almost our entire company up to work remotely. We’ve disinfected our entire office, which is currently being used only by the small production team to safely continue shipping printers and consumables.
Getting ourselves up to work remotely was surprisingly easy. It was accomplished in one day. We work on laptops, already use several communication apps, and our product is designed to work in any environment with a sturdy table. Our beloved support wizard Mike simply brought a V-One home with a big bag of all the accessories he needs, and customer support has continued undisrupted since.
We feel very lucky for how smooth our transition into self-isolation has been.
But it’s not all luck. We’re all about giving people the tools they need to go from idea to prototype without being slowed down by factory lead-times, stencils, or — as we’re now finding out — being out of the office due to health risks. When you have a circuit board factory on your desktop, it doesn’t matter where that desk is. By combining it with other tools to share and collaborate on product designs, product developers can stay focused on what they do best even in the extreme circumstance of self-isolation. Here are some that we recommend:
- Formlabs. We use a Formlabs 3D printer to quickly prototype physical parts in our own product development workflow, and the company has released an excellent post on how to keep using their products through the COVID-19 crisis.
- Onshape. This CAD tool allows multiple users to access and work on a single mechanical design concurrently over the cloud, even supporting tablets and phones. Here are their tips for working remotely on designs.
- Upverter. This PCB design tool is browser-based, with instantly synced edits and real-time collaboration to make sure you can keep iterating on PCB layouts no matter where you are.
- The Voltera V-One. A PCB Printer about the size of a laptop, the V-One can take you from a schematic design to a functioning PCB in under an hour.
- Octopart. Product design also requires understanding your supply chain. With factories around the world closing to protect their employees and communities, it’s useful to know how this impacts your component sourcing.
If your team is using cloud-based design tools and you each have prototyping tools available, you can essentially send design files to colleagues over the web and they can build them on demand! By leveraging each of these tools, you can ensure that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your product development timeline is as minimal as possible.
Once the worst is over, we’re betting that many companies will consider adopting full or partial work-from-home policies. Now is a great time to begin thinking about what tools you need to be self-sufficient and extremely collaborative while at home.
If you know of other product development tools that help keep projects moving forward in times like this, share them with your friends, colleagues, or with us via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, or write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We hope you’re staying safe and busy as the world settles into the reality of an extended period of remote collaboration.