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There has been a growing adoption of NiP thin film resistors as heater elements from a diverse group of users including those in the aerospace, defense, high-end computing and the volume consumer electronics market. This has included interest and use from those responsible for validation and reliability testing. A novel application has now grown from the validation and reliability testing perspective. Using embedded resistors as heaters to do high-temperature or burn-in testing eliminates the need for thermal chambers.
The idea of using embedded resistors as heaters in PCBs is not new. In the past embedded resistors as heaters have been used to raise the temperature of critical components on PCBs to optimum operating levels. A couple of examples include the semi-active laser (SAL) board in guided munitions and an X-ray spectrometer board in the ESA Mars Beagle II Lander. Another recent space application required the melting of plastic fasteners. The plastic fasteners were used to secure folded solar panels during launch then deploy when the unit was in orbit. An embedded heater solution was designed to conform to the physical space, power and reliability metrics specified and selected based on its performance.
To read the full version of the article which appeared in the June 2017 issue of The PCB Magazine, click here.