The hardware acronym glossary

In the world of hardware development and manufacturing, there are so many acronyms used regularly that reading documentation and learning processes can be like deciphering a bowl of alphabet soup. The assumption is that everyone knows what these acronyms stand for, but that’s not always the case. We started putting together this list of the most commonly used acronyms and curated them on one page, broken into categories, so you can search or browse. Our goal is to maintain this as a living document, adding more acronyms as we come across them. If you have others to add, just drop us a line at and let us know!


BOM = bill of materials
Your ingredients list for making the product. Includes everything needed to make the product, including raw materials, parts, and assemblies, as well as relevant details such as quantities, vendor information, cost, and lead times.

CMF = color, material, and finish
The term used to communicate design intent — specifically the exact color, material, and finish — to the factory that makes the parts. CMF is actually its own area of specialty in the field of industrial design. Color usually uses a Pantone or RAL standard system, while textures may use Mold Tech, SPI, or YickSang standards.

COGS = cost of goods sold
A detailed calculation of the total cost to produce your product, including everything from raw materials to factory labor and storage costs.

FMEA = failure modes and effects analysis
A method of figuring out how a product may fail, weighing the severity of the failure mode, and determining methods to mitigate the issues.

PRD = product requirements document
Document created prior to starting a project. Captures the “who, what, and why” of the product, as well as the product specifications and use cases. May include product purpose, stakeholders, assumptions, dependencies, and functional, usability, and technical requirements, among other components.

RFQ = request for quotation
Document used to invite vendors and contractors to make a bid on products or services needed. Includes 3D models, 2D drawings, bill of material (BOM), electrical release package, and color, material, and finish (CMF) document.


DFM = design for manufacturing
The practice and process of designing parts and products that are easy and economical to manufacture. Cost is directly related to design, so decisions like using standard components and designing parts to be multifunctional can make a big difference. Typically handled by a mechanical engineer, who also communicates with the factory.

SMT = surface-mount technology
A method of connecting electrical components to a circuit board. An alternative to through-hole soldering that enables high-density boards to be manufactured.

PCB = printed circuit board
Laminated board used in almost all electronics that provides the medium to connect electronic components. Sandwich structure comprised of conductive and insulating layers, with the outer conductive layer (usually copper) having etched traces. Components are soldered to pads or through-holes on the board.

PCBA = printed circuit board assembly
A PCB with all the electronic components soldered on.

CFD = computational fluid dynamics
The study and simulation of how fluids move around physical objects. Commonly used to help simulate parts such as valves, pipes, and airplane wings.

FEA = finite element analysis
A method of mathematically simulating how parts change or deform under forces applied to them. Used by mechanical engineers to ensure parts are strong before building and testing them.

CAD = computer-aided design
Software used by mechanical engineers and industrial designers (and many others) to create detailed digital 2D and 3D models of parts, products, and projects.

EDA = electronic design automation
Also referred to as electronic computer-aided design (ECAD). Software used to design, lay out, and simulate PCBs.

EMI = electromagnetic interference
Unwanted disruption to an electric circuit, caused by an external source, whether naturally occurring or synthetic. Can cause electronic devices to malfunction.

FCC = Federal Communications Commission
Independent agency of the United States federal government overseen by Congress, responsible for regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable in all US states and territories. FCC certification denotes that devices are within legal limits of electromagnetic radiation and interference.

UL = Underwriters Laboratory
Independent, third-party organization that tests and certifies hardware components and products for safety, including evaluating factors such as electrical shock and flammability.

Manufacturing Stages

EVT = engineering verification test
First phase of scaling hardware development to production. Initial test of assembled hardware prototype to understand if the basic product functions as intended.

DVT = design verification test
Second phase of scaling hardware development to production. Comprehensive test of assembled hardware against clear, measurable specifications (aka design inputs) to verify the product works as intended and meets all standards and requirements.

PVT = production verification test
Final phase of scaling hardware development to production. Testing ensures that the production line is optimized to verify the final mass-produced product is up to spec and meets customer expectations.

Sales & Marketing

D2C = direct to consumer
A method of selling products online without a brick-and-mortar retail location.

B2B = business to business
Selling products to traditional retailers or other businesses.

GTM = go-to-market strategy
How a business reaches its customers. Includes defining the target market, pricing strategy, and distribution and marketing channels. Can be highly variable.

CPC = cost per click
The most basic digital advertising monetization. The advertiser pays the publisher for each time an ad is clicked.

ROI = return on investment
The revenue returned from putting money into a given sales and marketing channel.

ROAS = return on ad spend
The revenue returned from putting money into advertising.


AR = augmented reality
Interactive experience created by using technology to superimpose information in 2D or 3D over the user’s vision, combining real-world and computer-generated content.

VR = virtual reality
Immersive experience created most often using a wearable display that can recreate 3D images.

XR/MR = mixed reality
A combination of AR and VR.

Hardware Handbook
Sam Holland

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