One thing I’ve found helpful in reducing the overall cost of certification testing is to make sure that you’ll pass the test ahead of time by pre-compliance testing your device. While the product testing necessary for official certification almost always needs to be performed in an accredited lab, you can do your own product testing in a non-accredited lab first to verify that your product meets all the requirements. If something is amiss, you can then go back and make adjustments without having to pay for a fully accredited lab to test your product multiple times. Many good pre-compliance test labs will also work with you on the design in order to meet the requirements.
In an ideal world, this step is skipped altogether. Unfortunately, we live in the real world. As a result, things often break in unexpected ways — especially as more ports and peripherals are added to a product. If you’ve come to this step from pre-compliance testing, then you will be appreciative that you will have a much better chance of passing the actual compliance tests. If you’ve come here from the actual compliance tests, then you’re probably pretty frustrated that you didn’t consider compliance from the start or perform pre-compliance testing.
This is it! If everything has been considered from a compliance standpoint, these tests are relatively painless. If your product is really complicated, that could also make the tests more complicated. However, sometimes your product begins to fail in a new way during testing. Most test houses are willing to work with you on this, but it is better to try to get a sense of that before an issue arises during testing. The worst-case scenario is a major re-design, but even minor re-designs require the whole test suite to be performed again.
Now, this is really it! If you’ve reached this point, then you’ve passed your compliance tests. The test lab should provide a report. You (or your representative) will work to get all of the necessary paperwork in order, the test lab will write the report, and then the filing will be sent for review. If the documentation is in order, the review board may request some clarifications. If the documentation is incomplete, this will cause this final stage of the process to drag out.
The end result of filing should be a Declaration of Conformity (DoC) which states that your product has been tested and complies with the necessary standards. In order to legally put labeling bearing any regulatory agency markings, the DoC should be completed.
Product Testing for Your Next Project
While this guide is certainly not comprehensive for every type of product testing and certification you might ever need to know about (a book would be a better format for that), this overview should provide you with some high-level guidance as you develop your next product.
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