Pilot 4D is the most versatile and complete line of automatic flying probe tester, offering the widest range of solutions and performances on the market for a Flying Probe tester for electronic boards. Solutions range from 4 to 8 test probes, to access simultaneously one or both sides of the board, which can be positioned either horizontally or vertically into the test system.
FLYING PROBE TEST: WHY AND WHICH SYSTEM?
During the last decade, flying probe test have continued to evolve and now offer such a wide range of performances, that it is sometimes difficult for the user to choose the most suitable architecture and configuration.
Born about 30 years ago in the midst of general skepticism, especially from electrical test engineers, flying probe test systems are now considered worldwide as fundamental and essential tools to test all types of of electronic boards. The significant market share that flying probe testers have conquered over the years, is beyond all doubt due to the constant demand for more flexibility and cost savings of electronics manufacturers, always seeking advanced tools and equipment to certify the quality of their products and at the same time cope with the reduced life cycles imposed by a frenetic market constantly eager for news.
The initial prerogative that roused the interest towards flying probe testers was certainly the lack of fixtures dedicated to a specific kind of board and hence the possibility to set up test programs without the recurring costs needed to build up a specific bed of nails destined to die along with the product to be tested. This is still one of the biggest advantages that can make a flying probe system more desirable than a traditional bed of nails in-circuit system. But the “brave” users, or, better, the farsighted ones, who successfully tried out a flying probe system about ten years ago , gradually came to realize their great potential and began to require higher and higher performances, inducing the test systems manufacturers to invest significantly in the research and development of new measurement, mechanical motion and software technologies to enrich the flying probe testers with new functions. This great technological effort has produced results that were inconceivableuntil a few years ago, transforming the flying probe tester used for simple MDA testing of passive components into a real multifunctional test platform, providing the user with several advantages in terms of speed, reliability, fault coverage and cost of test.
However, as often happens when a type of equipment has undergone years of development , and improvements, and becomes a mature technology, the range of offers available become so wide and varied that the choice is made more and more complicated for the end user.
Those that are considering the purchase of a flying probe test system today must make strategically important and often not obvious choicesconcerning the system architecture strictly depending on the test requirements of the customer himself. To choose the most suitable architecture, it is important to know, with good approximation, what and how is to be tested, but it is often enough to have a couple of clear ideas that serve to orient the choice towards the best solution.
Advantages of Flying Probe Test:
- Eliminates fixturing costs and time
- Fast test program development, easy integration of design changes
- Process flexibility
- Circuit access, even in the absence of test points
- Controlled probe contact, programmable for any type of board
- Different test solutions and approaches integrated in a single test system
- Intrinsic positioning and measurement precision
4 FLYING PROBE TEST ENVIRONMENTS
MANUFACTURING, REPAIR, REVERSE ENGINEERING, PROTOTYPING and NEW PRODUCT INTRODUCTION (NPI), are typically the 4 environments where the Pilot 4D solutions are implemented.
The Seica VIP platform software, VIVA, common to all of the Pilot4D systems, allows a completely versatile test approach, from simple ICT to functional tests, from automatic, net-oriented tests to the reconstruction of the data and electrical schematics of boards coming from the field.
MANUFACTURING: the evolution of the test algorithms and strategies present in the VIVA software mean that the Pilot4D testers provide fast, high performance production testing. The diverse, integrated test technologies such as optical inspection, thermal analysis, boundary scan, power-on functional test, and the possibility to include other processes such as on-board programming (OBP), allow the user to streamline the various production phases, optimizing process time.
REPAIR: There are different types of requirements for diagnosing faulty boards, depending on the characteristics of the boards themselves and the specific repair situation (manufacturing defects, field returns, repair depot, etc.).
The Pilot4D line has an extensive tool set developed to address all of the repair scenarios, and the intrinsic flexibility of the flying probe test approach allows the user to implement from one to all of the test techniques available, to optimize the repair process and results.
PROTOTYPING AND NPI: by exploiting the versatility of the Pilot4D hardware and software, it is possible to obtain immediate data from the testing of prototypes, avoiding costs and time for building preliminary fixtures or test benches, ensuring maximum fault coverage in the minimum time.
REVERSE ENGINEERING (RE): the necessity of managing field returns is a constant in today’s industy, and in some sectors, such as transportation, infrastructure, communication and defense, the repair returns are often older boards which do not have complete documentation, schematics or construction data. The double-side solutions offered in the Pilot4D line are ideally suited to carry out reverse-engineering operations, and include all of the necessary software tools to enable the reconstruction of the electrical schematics and the CAD data of the board under repair. This helps to facilitate fault detection and repair, and to produce the documentation necessary for legacy support of the product.
THE DIMENSION OF TIME IN FLYING PROBE
The dimension of time in the test of electronic boards and modules has a multi-faceted effect on the efficiency of the test process. It is fundamental in determining the added value it brings to the final product, which is paramount in today’s extremely competitive global market.
Consider test program development time, test execution time, digital component programming time, handling time and, last but not least, the time required to repair boards when the process has not been sufficiently monitored. Put all of this together with the challenges presented by the increasingly faster technological evolution of electronic products in terms of performance and cycle times, and it is easy to see that the dimension of time is an essential factor in the equation.
The Pilot4D line of flying probe test systems offer a vast series of solutions that are designed to optimize the “time” dimension while maintaining the highest level of test quality.
DIFFERENT ARCHITECTURES FOR DIVERSE SOLUTIONS IN FLYING PROBE
The Pilot4D line offers architectural solutions, each one optimized for a specific type of application scenario:
Pilot4D L4 is a horizontal, “pass-through” solution. Completely compliant with the SMEMA protocol, ensuring complete automation of the in-line test process. It has an architecture which permits the integration of additional pins and jigs to augment test coverage or to integrate other processes, such as on-board programming (OBP) of digital devices.
Pilot4D V8 and Pilot4D M4 optimize the test of “double-side” electronic boards, which require stimulus and measurement on both sides of the UUT simultaneously, where a “single-side” approach is extremely limiting in terms of test coverage. The use of 8 (V8) or 4 (M4) probes distributed on both sides of the Unit Under Test (UUT) enables full test coverage as well as faster test time, and the vertical architecture capitalizes on the effect of gravity to minimize vibrations during testing, ensuring maximum test precision and measurement stability.
FLYING PROBE AND INDUSTRY 4.0
Information and the technology needed to collect and analyze data, is key to the successful digitalization of the manufacturing process, which is at the heart of the Industry 4.0 concept.
The Flying Probe Pilot4D line has all of the capabilities needed for implementation in any Factory 4.0 scenario, providing the possibility to plug in any proprietary or third party information system to achieve the desired goals.