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Prototyping to Production

Arm Mbed Enabled hardware comes in many shapes and sizes. Some boards are designed for rapid prototyping and easily connecting external components. Others are deployable, certified modules that you need to add to your custom design. Mbed supports both, so you can use it for the whole process - from prototyping to production and deployment.


Prototyping is about speed and ease, not beauty and size. It’s therefore best to start with a board that allows easy external connections or has a series of connectable adapters or components. You can base your design - software and component selection - on these components. That will minimize the difference between your prototype and your final design, so you'll be able to trust your prototype as a representative of the end product.

You'll have to write some software, too. Mbed lets you code, test and iterate quickly, and use the same code on prototype and production hardware.

At this point it's safe to say that 90 percent working is 50 percent completion. If you're having problems, the Mbed community is an excellent source of information and advice on everything from hardware selection to software optimization and bug fixing.


When your prototype works as expected it’s time to build something more representative of your vision. This usually includes a different shape for your printed circuit board (PCB), with some components removed to optimize cost, size and power. Depending on your production volume you may also be able to take advantage of a certified programmable module in your design. Whether you're designing your own hardware using the Hardware Development Kit (HDK) or using Mbed Enabled components produced by our partners, you can continue to use Mbed OS and rely on your design working just as your prototype did.

Note: You should check the licensing on any module that is not part of Mbed OS for permissive use, or contact the author.

If you need help with any aspect of device production, such as the custom electronics and mechanics, software and manufacturing, there are a lot of professionals within the ecosystem. Look for power users with a badge that indicates their skill (hardware, software and so on), or browse our partner directory.

The Hardware Development Kit

The Mbed Hardware Development Kit (HDK) provides the microcontroller subsystem electronic design automation (EDA) consumables you need to transition from Mbed Enabled development boards or components to custom designs. If you base your custom designs on the HDK, you can continue to benefit from the native support of the Mbed SDK, free Mbed online compiler and the Mbed Developer Community.

The Mbed HDK specifies all support components and circuits a particular design needs. These include many iterations of the Mbed interface, which runs DAPLink – a simple USB drag and drop programmer, CMSIS-DAP debugger and virtual serial port for the target microcontroller.

Benefits of the HDK

The benefits of building a custom design out of the Mbed HDK include:

  • The ready-made schematics are a great shortcut, so you can get started on all the other things that make your design, without worrying whether you've correctly implemented all the "necessary bits”.
  • The Mbed SDK supports each of the exact configurations of HDK designs, and libraries that have been written for the APIs in the Mbed SDK are highly reusable.
  • The Mbed community has developed a wealth of libraries, applications and code examples using the SDK and HDK.

Where next

We’re still working on the HDK for Mbed OS. If you have any questions, please ask on the forums.

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