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Wired & Wireless Test Fixtures: Printed Circuit Board Testing

Printed Circuit Board TestingIn the development of custom printed circuit board (PCB) designs, no solution is complete until the testing phase is complete. While wired or wireless functional testing is a requirement for all configurations, regardless of the industry, it can be helpful to work with custom testing methods that better support the needs of the contract manufacturer. There are different tests that can be conducted for a printed circuit board testing solution throughout the manufacturing process and after production for quality control. Of course, this will also depend on the needs of the manufacturer and the purpose of the PCB. Some will not require any additional testing beyond the standard tests performed during manufacture, while others will demand extensive testing for compliance verification.

Some of the industries that will require high-end testing include anything for the medical field, governmental production, military/defense manufacturing, and aerospace. Even if your printed circuit board designs are not destined for sensitive application use, you will still want to ensure that you do use automated test equipment with an applicable functional test interface to guarantee the quality of your work. Even if the contract manufacturer does not require any specialized testing, it is still important to be aware of the testing methods that are best suited for the finished product so you can do your own testing and make marked improvements at every stage of development.

Material Testing vs. Functional Testing

While there are many different types of testing that can be conducted to evaluate the quality of a custom printed circuit board, there are two main groups that all tests will fall under. The first is material testing in which the physical properties of the PCB itself are being tested to ensure whether the rigid, flex or rigid-flex board can stand up to simulated use. Peel testing, X-ray testing, solder testing, bend radius testing, contaminant testing, and flex testing are just some of the methods used that fall under the broad category of material testing for a printed circuit board testing. Like with all other testing, it is essential to ensure that the testing will meet the industry standard requirements for an accurate estimate of board quality.

Functional testing is often used as a final step in manufacturing, providing a pass/fail determination of a printed circuit board testing before it is shipped to the contract manufacturer. The purpose of this test is to validate that the product hardware is free of any defects that might negatively impact the desired function of the product during application. The functionality and behavior of the printed circuit board testing are required, using either wired or wireless functional testing with automated test equipment. A functional test interface is used to connect the PCB to the test equipment to simulate the environment in which the board is expected to be used. Simple and fully operational tests can be used to provide reliable results.

Advantages of Wireless Functional Testing

While a physical test is important to ensure the quality of the materials for the printed circuit board, there are serious advantages to using standard and custom wireless functional testing after production. Because the functional test interface is used to simulate the product’s operational environment and check its correct functionality, it can minimize the cost for the contract manufacturer to provide actual testing equipment for the finished product. This is a huge selling point for designers and developers of printed circuit boards. It saves them both time and money, helping them to get new and innovative products out on the market without any testing delays.

Automated test equipment for wireless functional testing also enhances other types of tests, helping to provide confidence for the manufacturer that the overall product is error-free. Testing can be used to check the functionality of the product to reduce debugging time and help make changes during the manufacturing process for more effective production. Our engineers can work directly with the client or contract manufacturer to establish a functional testing protocol that will help to improve DUT testing (device under test) using the power supply or program loads to help it work properly.

Contact EMC Technologies for Wireless Functional Testing

If you are in need of custom solutions for device under test (DUT) or unit under test (UUT) automated test equipment, you can count on EMC Technologies to help you achieve your goals. Discrete wired and wireless functional testing for printed circuit board assemblies and electronic assemblies, as well as cutting-edge RF test adapters, PCB designing, custom cables, and more can all be ordered through our Fall River, MA ITAR registered shop. Give us a call at 508-672-0808 or use our online order form to start the process.