Functional and ICT Test and Profit

April 17, 2015

Test Engineering in Aerospace: Functional and ICT

Over the years I have had an opportunity to get to see how different organizations view their test operations.  At one aerospace manufacturer, test was regarded as a most critical player in the manufacturing operations.  Any manufacturing change was always presented to the testing engineers early enough so that engineering could offer consultation.  Testing and the resulting summation was considered just as important a manufacturing step as soldering or purchasing.

Functional Test Functional Test Fixtures

At another manufacturer, functional test was regarded as the enemy.  If defects were detected, somehow anger would be directed at the test automation department for making the other manufacturing processes look bad.  The testing group would rarely be consulted on changes and blamed when the enacted changes would cause difficulty at function.

The end result of these differing attitudes was easy to see.  The movement at the aerospace facility was slow, measured and methodical.  Nothing happened very fast, but most things happened on time.  Not much panic, but a steady flow of what was expected.

Functional or ICT In Process Test Engineering – Modality and Attitude Result in Profit:

At the second facility things got done a lot faster.  Everybody was in a hurry, working late and coming in on Saturdays to keep up with the pace.  It seemed that oodles of money were being saved because they were able to skim through so many of the unnecessary steps.  But somehow there was always an emergency.  People would have to figure out new ways to fix all the crazy things that went wrong.  All those extra steps would take extra time so now the schedule would have to be revamped.  A lot of the problems would show up during ICT testing.  The product that was so obviously good just couldn’t get through the test equipment.  Some might pass. But a lot would fail.  Sometimes an assembly would pass one time and fail the next.  It was always clear that the problem was either lousy test equipment or inadequate testing engineers.

At the second facility folks would wonder how the aerospace company would make good profits while moving so slowly.  Of course, they figured it out.  It was clear that the aerospace market was inherently profitable. For more information on how IQ can assist in your ICT Test Development, call IQ today at 847-258-5598.

Preventing the Dangers of ESD

March 12, 2013

push fingersESD (electrostatic discharge)  can be an invisible menace in electronics manufacturing. For both complex boards in the automotive and  aviation industries or for simple assemblies where quality matters, ESD events can have a horrible impact on overall quality.

Electrostatic Discharge in Electronics Testing can occur at multiple points during the manufacturing process and isn’t necessarily immediately detectable.  It can cause a device to stop working completely,  or in some instances cause malfunction further down the line in a completed assembly. The expense associated with malfunctioning circuit boards in completed assemblies can be drastic. And unfortunately, having ESD treated flooring and common point grounding isn’t enough. Test fixtures should prevent ESD as well.

IQ’s Fixtures:

Intrinsic Quality is pleased to offer fixtures with static dissipative material. This material is not a simple coating that will chip and break off with wear – rather it is part of the fixture itself. For more information on ESD and non-ESD  including a detailed data sheet, visit: or call IQ today at 847-258-5598 

Functional Flexible Circuit Board Tester

September 6, 2012

Biomedical Test Equipment Development: Functional Tester for Flexible Circuit Boards

It has been a busy few weeks at Intrinsic Quality. We recently completed the build and debug of a complex, custom, precision functional tester for flexible printed circuit board testing. The tester was commissioned by an American medical manufacturer and the flex board being tested will eventually end up in an endoscope assembly.

Functional Tester for Flexible Circuit BoardsFlexible Circuit Board Test:

The flex board seemed fairly simple.  It had a female SIP header, a set of a dozen flexible brass battery contacts, a dual stage push button and a small speaker/buzzer. To achieve the necessary throughput, the tester was to test four boards in parallel in a dual well configuration.

The specification required several different types of tests for the device.  First, continuity was tested between the contacts and header. Then the height of each contact was measured within a thousandth of inch.  Next, the force and the resistance at the two switch points of the push button were measured.  Finally, the tester would measure the speaker’s sound pressure level at several frequencies. The customer requested data logging and a printer to print detailed fail tickets.

To measure the contact heights, the flex boards were precisely registered and clamped onto a precision ground plate.  Intrinsic Quality used a stepper motor to raise a platform of fixed test pins which had been ground coplanar and parallel.

Stepper Motor Control Board

Stepper Motor Control Board.

These pins were raised in steps until they would make electrical contact with the flex’s contacts.  Both make contact and break contact tests are performed, with the test results displayed in the custom created GUI (graphic user interface).

Custom Tester GUI

Custom created Tester GUI.

Electronics Testing utilizing Stepper Motor Control:

The two stage push button on the device was tested with a separate set of stepper motors and a precision force transducer. Because the switch actuation was dynamic, the switch force was collected into an array as the stepper gradually moved to close the switch.  In the charts below, a graph of the actual results are compared to the manufacturer’s specifications.  Once the data was collected software analysis identified the local peaks.

To test the speaker, microphones were mounted below the flex boards and connected by means of a switching matrix to a sound pressure meter that interfaced with the PC.  A voltage controlled oscillator was used to set frequency and voltage levels using a pair of digital-to-analog-converters.  The oscillator was sequentially switched to each of the speaker inputs on the flex boards.

Diligence and attention to quality resulted in an excellent multitasking precision functional tester that exceeded customer expectations. For more information about Intrinsic Quality functional testers, visit: