You want to make sure your PCBs are being manufactured quickly and efficiently, so you rely on manufacturing defect analysis by automated testing equipment. If you like the idea of saving in the long run, you might forego the dedicated test fixtures needed for in-circuit tests (ICT). 

How can you make sure you are optimizing your flying probe tests and getting the most out of these SMT machines, though? We have some tips for you.

  • Know What You Are Testing For
  • Check Your BOM & CAD Schema
  • Design Your PCBs With Testing In Mind
  • Make Sure Components Are Accessible
  • Large PCBs? Space Access Points Closer.
  • Avoid Steep Solder Joints

What Do Flying Probe Tests Cover?

So, no dedicated test fixtures, bed of nails, or pop pins. That’s a plus, but what common process faults do flying probe machines usually cover? This can differ from machine to machine. So, you’ll want to find out the specifics of your model. For the most part, you can be confident you’re being covered if your equipment can do the basics.

If your flying probe test equipment doesn’t check for these faults in your PCBs and PCBAs, it might be time for an upgrade.

  • Open Circuits & Short Circuits 
  • Passive Component Measurements 
  • Diode & Transistor Orientation
  • Basic Supply Voltage Measurements
  • Optical Inspections
  • Power Up & Functional Checks

BOM & CAD Schema - What Messages Are You Sending?

Your bill of materials (BOM) and CAD data will make up the testing instructions for your flying probe testers. If you have inaccuracies in these instructions, you’ve already gotten off on the wrong foot. Make sure component outlines and heights are all accurate.

Are Your PCBs & PCBAs Flying Probe Friendly?

DfT or design for testing isn’t as strict or extensive with fixture-less in-circuit or flying probe testing, but there still are factors to take into account. A 3 mm border should be left component free to enable the machine to hold your boards in place.

Make Sure Components Are Accessible

Component access is also crucial. Can your machine access both sides of the assembly, or do your boards have at least one probable point for each network on a single side? Make sure larger components are on the top of the board. You will also want a “keep out” area around components to allow angled probe access.

Save On Testing Time With Better Access Point Placement

If you regularly manufacture larger PCBs, flying probe testing will take time as the machine carefully checks each access point across the assembly. You can save time on each pass by simply placing your access points closer together on the board. The less arm movements a check requires, the better.

Avoid Unnecessary Damage - Steep Solder Joints

Steep solder joints can cause your testing probes to slide off, causing solder flakes and damage to your PCBs. Solder joints at test points should have an appropriate height and amount of solder to prevent this. 

Ready To Update Or Upgrade Your Flying Probe Tester?

If you’ve optimized everything you can to get better results from your SMT equipment and are still having PCB quality issues, it might be time for an equipment upgrade or update. Contact us at Capital Equipment Exchange today to place an order for affordable, used flying probe testers.