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Distributors Hit the Designer/DIY Flashpoint

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?

11 comments on “Distributors Hit the Designer/DIY Flashpoint

  1. FLYINGSCOT
    July 7, 2014

    I always thought the big distributors would not be interested in supporting small hobbyists as there is no big volume carrot at the end of the proto stage.

  2. Ariella
    July 7, 2014

    I'm certain we'll see a lot more DIY with 3D printing design capabilities extending to a lot more people. Even those who don't want to invest in a printer can order their designs printed through a number of different services.

  3. Ariella
    July 7, 2014

    I'm certain we'll see a lot more DIY with 3D printing design capabilities extending to a lot more people. Even those who don't want to invest in a printer can order their designs printed through a number of different services.

  4. SP
    July 8, 2014

    Electronics discipline is more to do with interest and hobby of a person rather than passing academics exams in colleges. More and more people with interest in electronics and how things works should be allowed to flourish in this. This is the future.

  5. Daniel
    July 8, 2014

    “I always thought the big distributors would not be interested in supporting small hobbyists as there is no big volume carrot at the end of the proto stage”

    Flyingscott, volume is not only the factor. They will consider the future of the products too; I mean whether they can make more sales also.

  6. Daniel
    July 8, 2014

    “Electronics discipline is more to do with interest and hobby of a person rather than passing academics exams in colleges. More and more people with interest in electronics and how things works should be allowed to flourish in this. This is the future.”

    SP, you are right. some of the most interesting products are evolved from interesting minds. FB, Google etc are very common examples.

  7. technos
    July 8, 2014

    I am one of those “small” developers working on a circuit that will be an article in a magazine that goes to thousands of engineers. I will be using parts from Mouser, as using their search is very easy along with the datasheets for any particular part that I use. I can delineate the specifications I need in their search. Take note, part makers, if I do not see your part on Mouser, there is a good (likely) chance that I will not be using it.

  8. Daniel
    July 9, 2014

    Technos, for small and DIY projects and even beginners, normally we used to search the components/parts through such search options. But that's not the case with expert designers/developers.

  9. technos
    July 9, 2014

    “But that's not the case with expert designers/developers.” Of course not. OEMs serve their own purpose, whatever that may be. And most times that means sourcing components in quantity from whoever offers the best value – often oversees suppliers now.

    But for the designer who wants to make it easy for others to understand and duplicate their circuit easily, then some of the small(er) quantity friendly distributors is where parts need to be drawn from. Not the manufacturer that makes you sign an NDA to see their datasheet/use their part.

    Experts get paid(better) and have the resources to haggle with nonsense like that.

  10. Daniel
    July 10, 2014

    “OEMs serve their own purpose, whatever that may be. And most times that means sourcing components in quantity from whoever offers the best value – often oversees suppliers now.”

    Technos, for DIY projects, it's difficult to get the components at a better price because we are going only for a limited number.

  11. Daniel
    July 10, 2014

    “But for the designer who wants to make it easy for others to understand and duplicate their circuit easily, then some of the small(er) quantity friendly distributors is where parts need to be drawn from.”

    Technos, how many distributors are there in that family; very few.

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