Pcb Testing

Written by Serena Berger
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There are several techniques available to test for problems in your PCB design. These include X-ray tests, optical inspection, and functional tests. It is not just the number of examinations to which you subject your PCB that matters. Since running each test increases the cost of producing the circuit board, you should strategically order your examinations during the production process so that subsequent tests do not duplicate the results of earlier tests. Doing so also allows you to catch errors as early as possible, which can lead to savings on the total production cost.

Using Visual Inspection for Testing Simple PCBs

A visual inspection of your schematic before the PCB has been produced is the first line of testing available to you. If your design is relatively simple, you should be able to follow each trace along the board to make sure that they are all present and that they do not interfere with each other. A similar inspection can be performed once the board has been produced. Overlooking these basic tests can be costly. It would be a waste of resources to have produced a prototype which was missing a necessary trace.

Similarly, you would not want to wait until the PCB has been manufactured to find that components such as diodes have not been properly connected. Rather than waiting until the circuit testing stage, this error could have been found before components were soldered into place. Each time a PCB is produced incorrectly, costs are cumulative, as you would need rerun the previous tests on a new prototype to ensure that there are no other errors.

Since each PCB that you manufacture can contain several traces and nodes, it may be difficult for you to focus on each one individually. Analysis software is available that can assist you by guiding your selection of tests. Using a sensible testing strategy can not only save you a significant amount of money, but may be able to cut down on the time it takes to produce the boards, allowing you to launch them earlier than expected.

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