I am looking to buy imaging sensors but the manufacturers are reluctant to engage because of low volume production. I don't have an NDA nor any official datasheets. However, there are leaked datasheets online. Also distributors (Avnet, Arrow, Digi-key etc.) have the particular sensors in stock and theoretically I could put in an order.

Now, would the order go through? And is there a danger of being found out by manufacturers for going against their wishes?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Why would you ever buy something with poor documentation? \$\endgroup\$ – Elliot Alderson Jan 10 '19 at 14:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Elliot: The project requires somewhat specific sensors to be used which are only produced by three manufacturers. Hence I have to make it work with what I have or fail. \$\endgroup\$ – Shinji Yutani Jan 10 '19 at 15:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can buy it, no problem, but expect absolutely zero support from the manufacturer. \$\endgroup\$ – Spehro Pefhany Jan 10 '19 at 16:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ This does actually happen in rare cases, you should place the order before you commit to using the part. For a larger quantity project even for a simple part you'd want to research the time and cost of getting it to where your board will be built. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Jan 10 '19 at 18:29

Assuming that you have told us everything about your situation, NDA's and manufacturer's wishes have nothing to do with this. The manufacturer's won't care if you go through a distributor and buy their products. In fact, it seems that they prefer you to. The reason for this is quite simple, and they've already told you it. They don't want to engage with you as you are looking at a low volume of sensors. They consider it as unprofitable dealing with you due to that. This is exactly why Distributors exist.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for answering! I wanted to use distributors from the beginning. But why wouldn't they give me the datasheet? They just don't trust me? \$\endgroup\$ – Shinji Yutani Jan 10 '19 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean that the manufacturers won't give you the datasheets or the distributors? I would be very surprised if it is the distributors. \$\endgroup\$ – Vance Jan 10 '19 at 15:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I meant the manufacturers don't give me datasheets. I haven't asked distributors, but now I understand that perhaps I should give it a try. My understanding has been that I first need an NDA with sensor maker who decides who is worthy of seeing datasheets etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Shinji Yutani Jan 10 '19 at 16:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think you may have misunderstood what a datasheet is. A datasheet should contain all the information that is required to interface with a product. By definition, the manufacturer needs to send them out into the world otherwise no one will be able to use the product, which would obviously hurt sales. What a datasheet is not, is a detailed description of the design so that you can reverse engineer the product. \$\endgroup\$ – Vance Jan 10 '19 at 16:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, interfacing with the product is exactly what I'm looking for. Normally yeah most products have datasheets online, but imaging sector seems very secretive. Pretty much every manufacturer only provides 'product brief' on the website freely. For pinout, footprint, electrical info and registers you need the datasheet. From leaked pdf's I can see that they even watermark datasheets with 'Confidential for [company]'. \$\endgroup\$ – Shinji Yutani Jan 10 '19 at 17:11

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