How To Choose A Flying Probe Tester

PCBs From screen printing to pick and place to wave solder, you want your printed circuit board assembly process to be as reliable and repeatable as possible. That’s why you invest in high-quality SMT testing equipment. Flying probe tests (FPT), or fixture-less in-circuit testing, make this process more affordable and versatile, but how do you choose FPT equipment that is right for you?

We’ve put together the best features to look out for when selecting a flying probe tester.

  • Max Board Size, Type & PCB Thickness
  • Number Of Arms
  • Capacitance, Resistance & Inductance Checks
  • Probe Precision
  • Repeatable Positioning
  • Camera
  • Bonus: A PDM Unit, HVS Test Capability & Micro Shorts Detection

Max Board Size, Type & PCB Thickness

The more complex your PCBs are, the more your flying probe testers need to be capable of. Make sure your machines are compatible with your maximum and minimum board sizes and thicknesses. If you assemble double-sided printed circuit boards, ensure your equipment is designed to access both sides.

More Arms To Assess More Points

The probes used to test and measure various points on a printed circuit board are located on robotic arms. The more arms your flying probe tester has, the more testing points it can access simultaneously.

Evaluate For More Than Just Opens & Shorts

Of course, you don’t want PCBs with open circuits or shorts, but today’s flying probe testers are capable of much more. Look for models with capacitance, resistance, and inductance checking capabilities.

Flying Probe Precision

You’ve chosen FPT equipment with plenty of arms and flexible testing capabilities, but how precise can the probes on your machine be? The precision numbers you find listed for this type of SMT test outfit will usually be in microns or micrometers (μm), for example, ±100 μm per arm in the x and y-direction.

Repeatable FPT Test Positioning

You will be performing the same tests repeatedly, board after board. So, it’s important to check how precisely your flying probe machines can reposition to conduct another round of tests. You’ll also find this feature listed in microns.

Probe Cameras For Visible Checks

Having FPT test arms with high-resolution detection cameras adds even more functionality to your electronic board checks. You can visibly see if there are problems with SMT component placement, missing components, traces, and pin inspections.

Bonus: A PDM Unit, HVS Test Capability & Micro Shorts Detection

More advanced fixture-less in-circuit testers may have additional features, like Phase Difference Measurement Unit (PDM units). High Voltage Stress (HVS) Test capabilities mean you still catch defects missed by the PDM.

In addition to detecting shorts, you may want a flying probe machine to detect and prevent even micro shorts.

Let Us Help You Save On Flying Probe Testers

Think you can’t afford FPT test equipment capable of enhancing your SMT assembly line? Think again. At Capital Equipment Exchange, we sell used flying probe testers in various brands and models. You don’t have to choose new to get the most out of PCB manufacturing. Contact us today to get the latest updates on our inventory and let us know what features you’re looking for.