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If I were to go to mass production with a consumer product is there a good guide on making sure I was following the correct compliances so that stores would accept selling it?

For example can part of the PCB be exposed? If it was a wall-mounted clock for example would it need a cover on the back of it?

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    \$\begingroup\$ More than 1 million Raspberry Pi's have been sold, and they're quite bare. Add to that all the Arduinos that have been sold, and you're looking at quite a lot of 'nude' products. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Lawrence May 28 '13 at 13:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Madmanguruman - Very true and a more and more relevant point these days. The world is changing and its a good thing. But, so far, those are electronics shops, mostly. I'm more worried about retail shops in other sectors, like design, saying "I'm sorry, but you don't adhere to..." \$\endgroup\$ – SpiRail May 28 '13 at 13:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's worth reading the raspberry pi blog article on the subject: raspberrypi.org/archives/tag/ce-compliance \$\endgroup\$ – pjc50 May 28 '13 at 13:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Opinion only: AC mains "double insulation MAY be difficult to pass philosphically, no matter how actually safe. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon May 28 '13 at 14:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Madmanguruman I believe there is a difference between development boards (like Arduino, Launchpad, RPI) and actual consumer electronics. \$\endgroup\$ – jippie May 28 '13 at 17:47
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This area is a bit of a thicket; in practice you have to hire a specialist test and certification company to do the tests, and they'll guide you with the precise list of requirements.

In the EU, to be saleable a product must have a "CE" mark. The list of requirements is quite long, and mostly deals with avoiding RF emissions. But there is a section on surviving electrostatic discharge, and that's the part that's going to be hard to meet with an exposed PCB. You might be able to do it with PCB conformal coating.

(You also have to make sure there are no high voltages exposed! That and the mains interference requirement is why external power adaptors are so widespread.)

Edit: CE certification is mandatory for electronic products and you will have trouble selling without it; however if you sell your clock as a kit or component you can skip all this. "Explaining" to stores is likely to hit a bureaucratic wall as soon as someone notices the lack of a CE mark.

It is, however, a self-certification ... putting the CE mark on certifies that you believe it to be compliant.

There's no rule banning bare PCBs per se, it's just the ESD rule that may or may not cause problems. You may be able to design an ESD-safe bare PCB.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1. When in doubt, get an opinion from a certified compliance testing laboratory. \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Lawrence May 28 '13 at 13:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks. Thats a really good start. Cert companies are expensive tho. I'm worried we are too early to budget for it. It all 5V on this particular instance. But, it might be difficult to explain to stores that its ok and not dangerous. \$\endgroup\$ – SpiRail May 28 '13 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ If your circuit has only +5 V power, you won't have to worry about the safety aspects. But you still have to worry about RF emissions (and susceptability) and ESD susceptability. Which are both more difficult to deal with with a bare pcb. \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon May 28 '13 at 14:58

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