Manufacturing in Shenzhen: MIT Watch

By Dan Chen, September 1, 2016

The main objective of this course was to learn how to take the prototype to production. We partnered with the manufacturing firm, AQS, to help us select the factory and quality control. All the factories that we’ve used where vetted by AQS, so we don’t need to take extra time to get to know the vender.

We started the course with a simple digital watch design, with The Atmel® | SMART SAM D ARM Cortex-M0+ based microcontroller (MCU). This way the student can program their own board via Arduino IDE and add expansions on top of the design or using it stand alone.

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We made a few prototypes in the lab before we send it off the AQS, making sure the board fits in the case. We used the open source tinycircuits’s TINYSCREEN+ design, and added an IMU.

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Once AQS received the design, their engineers was able to sent us the DFM Report within a few days. We  were able to fix all the issues before we head to Shenzhen. They started to purchase NRE based on the BOM and create tooling for plastic injection molding.

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On Aug 4th, 2016. The MIT team traveled from Boston to Hong Kong, then to Shenzhen.

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We took the train then walk across the border between China and Hong Kong. The train takes about an hour and 40 minutes, then there is a long wait at immigration border both on Hong Kong side and China side.

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We stayed at Huaqiang North, where the electronics markets are.

I would recommend Shenzhen Huaqiang Plaza Hotel, it’s not as smoky compare to other hotels around. I would book the hotel through Expedia, unless you have the original travel card / credit card.

Shenzhen Huaqiang Plaza Hotel
No.1019A Huaqiang Plaza, No.1019 Huaqiang North Road, Futian District, Shenzhen 518100, China (Huaqiang North)
深圳华强广场酒店 深圳, 福田区, 华强北路1019号

 

For the first week, we spend most of our time designing PCBs and walking around the market. I taught my students the basic skills on buying electronics parts. Tip: write down the part number and show it to the vender, not everything is on display.
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During the first week, AQS sent us the metal stamping and injection molding samples, with different finishing and color.

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I put together the watch and have one of my student posing for it during breakfast.

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We decided to get creative and trying to figure out where we can get the watch bands for our watch. As it turns out, Shaibu 晒布, has a huge collection of fabric and accessories.

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