SMT, PCB Electronics Industry News

Flying Probe Test - The Rules Have Changed

Mar 20, 2013

The RAPID 270 tester, the product line’s flagship product, with 8 flying probes, equipped with automated vertical conveyor, meets the most demanding requirements in terms of versatility and ease of use, without compromising any  high-performance standards.

The RAPID 270 tester, the product line’s flagship product, with 8 flying probes, equipped with automated vertical conveyor, meets the most demanding requirements in terms of versatility and ease of use, without compromising any high-performance standards.

On November 22, 2012, SEICA Italy held a technical seminar dedicated to the electronic testing of PCBs. This meeting was the official opportunity to present to the attending companies the new product line called RAPID; flying probers targeted to PCB testing. The product represents the combined knowledge and expertise of the SEICA BBT line, and is based on the "Ultra Fast” technology. In addition to speed, attention to aesthetics and improved ergonomics were also very important. Compactness and rationality, combined with the software ease of use, are the result of Seica’s research to develop a system that is simple to use and maintain.

The Ultra Fast technology is based on an innovative stimuli and measurement system which is directly installed on the flying probes, and hence very close to the circuit under test. This technology is present on all Rapid Line testers. Therefore, every single test has “smart” hardware available, based on DSP technology, able to communicate in real-time with the central unit allowing for capacitive, resistive and inductive measurements which are highly accurate and precise. The changes in the manufacturing processes and in the economy of many companies, along with the short time-to-market, increasingly justify the use of automation.  The use of automation will allow customers to achieve the efficiency levels and throughput imposed by the time and costs restraints of the market.

To be economically cost-effective in most of the manufacturing PCB operations of today (featured by high-quality of different units and by production cycles of small-to-medium series) any automated solution should have a high level of flexibility and a very short setup time. To reach this requirement, an automated solution should include mechanical flexibility, and simplified and intuitive software in order to empower the user with the complete solution in mixed, and low-volume production.

The Rapid range also has in-line test solutions (Rapid 240, equipped with 4 flying probes, Rapid 280, equipped with 8 probes), with automatic loading/unloading capability.
Since the time required for testing is normally longer than most other manufacturing processes, the most common configuration for testing is the “stand-alone” configuration, with storage units/external loaders connected to the internal loader of the test system.

Due to the increasing need to manage low-volumes of mixed productions, the best solution should be able to host multiple types and quantities of products to achieve the highest advantage from 24/7 automated operation capability. The Seica Multi Type Board Handler -MTBH, connected to the Rapid testers with horizontal architecture provides this type of capability. In fact the loader may host up to 150 boards at a time, either of the same type or of different type (part number). A simple software menu enables the user to define the test sequence. The system will test each board, automatically adjusting the rail width, loading the board and executing the related test program. After the test, the board is automatically downloaded and conveyed to dedicated shelves, depending on the pass/fail result of the test. The test information is stored in a file for statistical purposes and repair activities. The use of this kind of automated solution reduces the operator intervention.

The RAPID 270 tester, the product line’s flagship product, with 8 flying probes, equipped with automated vertical conveyor, meets the most demanding requirements in terms of versatility and ease of use, without compromising any  high-performance standards. The system is equipped with 8 fully independent measurement probes, enabled to reach high test speeds or to perform the parallel test on two PCBs simultaneously.

Considering the availability of 4 probes per side, it is possible to carry out even the most accurate measurements on both sides of the PCB, and, above all, to perform any type of tests like standard PCB test, Kelvin test and measurements  of active and passive components. The Rapid 270 flying prober is particularly useful where a minimum start-up time for testing is required in order to reduce the time-to-market of products, to test the most sophisticated prototypes, and batches reduced to the single unit and for service and repair laboratories.

The wide range of Rapid line testers encompasses two additional products, Rapid 230 and Rapid 250, oriented to “single-side” PCB testing of ceramic products and devices, with the capability to test passive or active components embedded within the same circuits. The Rapid 230 is a tester with 4 probes located on the TOP side, and with exclusively manual loading; while the Rapid 250 tester, thanks to an automated conveyor, may be introduced into an automatic test line.

Comparing different test philosophies from Europe to Asia and North America (NA), Seica has found the European market as well as the NA market to embrace the automated test strategy developed in the Rapid line.  In these geographies  (Europe and NA) where quality, time to market, and fast response are needed with the ease of use of the Rapid automated and manual system it is a truly revolutionary test system with the ability to meet the current and future needs of the PCB shop. Whereas, in Asia, big lots and aggressive pricing tactics are more prevalent and the market less reliant on quality metrics.

For the ATE companies like SEICA, it is essential to succeed in being a partner capable of providing immediate and effective solutions to those needs, by presenting applications, and innovations arising from research and a continued experimentation.

It is with these seminars that are organized by SEICA, that are the basis of our dynamic and flexible attitude and of the partnership of cooperation that SEICA has maintained for over 25 years with its Customers.

Founded in 1986, Seica S.p.A. is a global supplier of automatic test equipment and selective soldering systems, with an installed base of more than a thousand systems on four different continents. Seica offers a complete line of test solutions, including bed of nails and flying probe testers, able to perform MDA, in-circuit and full functional tests of assembled electronic boards and modules, and printed circuit boards, as well as laser-based selective soldering systems for electronic board manufacturing. Company headquarters are located in Strambino, Italy, with direct offices in France, the United States, Germany and China, supported by a vast distribution network covering the rest of the world. Please see

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