In the past, amateur designers and electronics hobbyists got little or no attention in the industry. Now, with the evolution of design kits, as well as the increasing importance of software, the DIY community is getting more attention from leading electronics distributors.
"In comparison to overall stats on OEM design engineers, it's still small, but it is a growing trend," Mark Burr-Lonnon, senior vice president, EMA and Asia, for Mouser Electronics tells EBN. "Mouser embraces them, but the Web is the dominant way of interaction. We get a small percentage of them calling us but a lot who use the Web."
This emerging interest will have a potentially positive effect on the overall electronics industry. Mark Larson, president of Digi-Key Corp. says:
I believe that the greatest impact of the DIY movement will be to develop and nurture more interest in electronics by a broader customer base. My belief is that mainline designers far outnumber DIY-types at this point in time.
In fact, many at-home designers may also work in the industry. Andrea Koritala, global head of tech integration and strategic programs for Newark element14, tells EBN:
The level of ingenuity we see and the demands on us as a distributor for the DIY customer base are far higher than mainline designers, but the payback is much higher as well. Many of the DIYs are mainline designers during the day so there is carryover from the success we see on DIY to mainline. In the end, the level of effort we put in to DIY comes back to us in mainline sales.
Other would-be designers later eventually put their designs into manufacture by contract. Alan Bird, the new president of the global components business in the Americas at Arrow Electronics says:
We've seen an increase thirst and requests for information and expertise that is dramatic. As we've continued to build out demand and design services online, we've seen that as a starting point and entry point to customers. We've seen a lot of activity in that area, and it's something we continue to drive. Today, at least we haven't seen a lot of that community building it themselves. The trend is still to design it themselves, and then manufacturer onshore or offshore.
These customers may also be looking for more support from their distributor than the typical designer. "The DIYs may not be as technically savvy as the traditional distribution enterprise customers, which puts demands on their technical expertise ranging from articles and videos to technical support," says Koritala, adding that the company provides DIY articles, videos, and blogs, as well as localized technical support channels 24/5 via phone, email, or chat.
So, EBN readers, are you building your own designs at night? Do you turn to your favorite distributors for help?