Customer Success Stories

Actualizing the Impossible with Bang & Olufsen

“We did this entire prototype design on Altium Designer. We were able to try out 
 our ideas and make changes with ease. It also allowed us to work closely with the mechanical team using the real-time MCAD collaboration technology.”

BENT CHRISTENSEN
SENIOR ENGINEER OF INNOVATION & PROTOTYPING
BANG & OLUFSEN

Audiophiles worldwide for its range of unique, high-quality audio, video and multimedia products revere Bang & Olufsen. The company, founded in 1925, employs over 2,550 people across its offices and retail stores located in over 100 countries.

When Bang & Olufsen create something, they don’t just develop a new product—they develop entirely new concepts. Creating truly unique, functional pieces takes a team of visionaries, working together to design beautifully crafted, sonically superior electronic devices.

Bent Christensen, Senior Engineer of Innovation and Prototyping at Bang & Olufsen works in the company’s “ideas factory”, making prototypes for Bang and Olufsen’s next generation of audio, visual and mobile communications systems.

Altium Designer helps Bent and his team transform works of art into high-end, superior-quality electronics, from stereos to speakers and beyond.

“We chose Altium Designer because we need to produce prototypes rapidly and without fuss. We can easily place up-to-date, pre-approved components straight onto the schematic. And the 3D visualization engine means we can fit our boards into their cases and reduce mCAD/eCAD revisions to a single clearance checking procedure. Prototypes that once took a month to complete are now finished in half that time.”

BENT CHRISTENSEN
SENIOR ENGINEER OF INNOVATION & PROTOTYPING
BANG & OLUFSEN

Unique Challenges, One Single Solution

Just like any job, there are particular challenges the designers must face working in the Bang & Olufsen “ideas factory”. For Bent, it is dealing with all the options and eventual changes in each prototype. 

“The ‘ideas factory’ is where we have the ideas for future products and where we turn those ideas into prototypes. These prototypes could be for a television, a remote control, or a mobile phone. We design the interface, the electronics and the mechanicals that go in it and then test, analyze and see how the prototype looks, feels, works,” Bent explains. 

Every time he and his team start a new prototype, it’s a lot like staring at a blank canvas; the real test is to simply find the appropriate architecture for the board.

“We normally start with one idea, and then change to another because there was something we hadn’t thought of. Then we keep making changes until we get it right. There are so many things that we need to consider when developing our prototypes,” comments Bent.

Bent and his team needed a tool to help them actualize the most seemingly impossible designs; for Bent, Altium Designer was the ideal solution for multiple challenges, from PCB boards to metal casings.

As Bent elaborates, “We chose Altium Designer because we need to produce prototypes rapidly and without fuss. The introduction of integrated database libraries allows us to do this. We can easily place up-to-date, pre-approved components straight onto the schematic. And the 3D visualization engine means we can fit our boards into their cases and reduce MCAD-ECAD revisions to a single clearance checking procedure. Features like these allow us to complete designs quicker and with more confidence; prototypes that once took a month to complete are now finished in half that time."
 

“Integrated libraries make it easy to make your own unique components. You can simply draw the footprint and place it on the schematic as you like it - so that it fits precisely. You can have your own libraries, with your own components, with your own kind of styling. This is important to us. Our products are unique, so our electronics need to be also.”

BENT CHRISTENSEN
SENIOR ENGINEER OF INNOVATION & PROTOTYPING
BANG & OLUFSEN

Comprehensive Schematics from the Point of Inception

The 3D STEP file import function in Altium Designer has been essential to Bent and his team because it ensures that their vision will fit into a finished design early on in the development cycle. Being able to view all electronic components from inside mechanical cases has also helped cut down on development time.

Using Altium Designer, Bent can also link to his external databases and even draw his footprints onto the schematic. “Integrated libraries make it easy to make your own unique components. You can simply draw the footprint and place it on the schematic as you like it - so that it fits precisely. You can have your own libraries, with your own components, with your own kind of styling. This is important to us. Our products are unique, so our electronics need to be also.”

This whole process, where components need to be changed and redesigned, design media re-evaluated and trade-offs made, is completed with ease using Altium. The unified design environment means changes made in a single domain will be reflected throughout the entire design. Now, when the team has to change various materials and designs, they don’t have the usual re-formatting or revision problems that previously impeded development.

When Bent and his team had to design a special touch screen, multiple prototypes were needed. Normally, this would have been a lengthy process, but as Bent explains, “We did this entire prototype design on Altium Designer. We were able to try out our ideas and make changes with ease. It also allowed us to work closely with the mechanical team using the real-time MCAD collaboration technology.”

The addition of the Altium TASKING VX toolkit has made Bent and his team even more productive. Bang & Olufsen’s ”ideas factory” has cut their development time by more than half while doubling their design throughput.  

Altium’s robust tools have made it easy for the world’s most innovative stereo company do what they do best: exploring concepts and freely innovating, empowering a new century of aesthetically and sonically-superior stereophonics.