Right now I'm involved in designing a new ATE system, nothing new there, this one has a twist however. As a team my department are essentially bread boarding an entire ATE from the schematic which would usually be sent for PCB manufacture. So far its taken 2 weeks and we have skip some of the 'luxuries' (IO buffer chips and other such protection for the ATE hardware).
Given that a PCB can take up to 2 months to go through the full layout & manufacture and test process is this type of activity a genuine alternative for extremely low run products?
Our bread boarded system will be arguably a lot more complex as 80% of the work is on wiring (basically replacing most of the tracking done by the traditional route) however it is very flexible when it comes to modification & upgrade. Almost any part can be removed, replace, re organised, components can be added with no need for a re-spin and re layout.
food for thought