Future Trends in Flying Probe Testing


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Brandt: They want to have a closed-loop from the printed circuit process to the loaded board process because the ideas in the PCBs when they have labels on the board are different than those in the loaded board business. The idea is to have a barcode ID on the PCB, which can also be used in soldering, pick-and-place, and the final electrical test process. Then, you can come back with a closed-loop, especially in the end the final production; if a part number shows any failure at the final customer, they can see when the boards were soldered, where the boards were produced, what were the test parameters in production, and what operator was at the end responsible for the handling of the boards.

Matties: And responsible for the failure; that’s where the financial liability would lie.

Brandt: It also proves where the problem comes from and which parameters were used for testing or measuring this kind of PCB.

Matties: It puts a whole new pressure on building it right.

Brandt: Yes, because in the past, if it was a manual machine, it was easy. When you had a problem with a PCB, you could have a manual machine. It was operated on the night shift to test the board, and, at the end, it was put on the wrong stack. But with automation and traceability on the board, it’s not as easy anymore.

Matties: And it also comes back to what we’re seeing in digital factories, such as being able to integrate with the digital factory like at the GreenSource Fabrication facility. We saw your equipment there—the atg A8a automated machine. How’s that process going?

Brandt: The easiest integration is a data handling interface because you can define software formats to read in and read out. Everything can be adapted with software. The challenge for a company like atg supplying a solution with automation will be integration with automatic guided vehicles. This means you have routed boards coming in and out with an automatic vehicle on a special track to your machine, which will be interfaced automatically to your machine. Then, you need an intelligent loading system. Bring the loading inside the machine and make a separation again to the AGV system with separated good-board and bad-board AGVs.

This is a final solution, but the challenge will be that there is no standard. If you have a customer asking if this for the future AGVs, there is no standard AGV machine. This means you have to develop a completely new mechanical solution for customer A than for customer B with a different security system, robot system, and covers. Data things are easier to handle than mechanical changes.

Matties: That leads to the new developments that are expected because this is one of those new expected developments. What other developments are you working on?

Brandt: As a facility, and as a system integration process, integration is huge. We are also working toward more automation and full automation. But for us, the key to market improvement for our machines is always throughput because it gives us the possibility to offer our machines at more facilities, as customers come to rely more on flying probes and less on-grid systems. Twenty years ago, you may have seen some non-contact testers behind curtains at the exhibitions. Here, we do not see any kind of theoretical solution, so we have to take motors and mechanical solutions to move the probes faster with higher accuracy to the point. We do not see any kind of indirect electronic beam or laser beam solutions over the next 10 years; we only see electrical test systems and electrical measurements to guarantee this test.

Matties: But you have to have the lightest possible touch.

Brandt: It’s a light touch, but it’s a touch, and it has to be done faster and faster. It’s a sequential measurement, and we have to improve this. This is not a big jump, but a constant process optimization.

Starkey: Peter, thank you very much for this conversation.

Brandt: Thank you, and see you at IPC APEX EXPO.

Starkey: We look forward to it.

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