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66 The PCB Magazine • September 2014 by Todd Kolmodin gardien serViCes usa Where do we go From Here? C o l u m n testiNg todd This month, Gardien's resident expert Todd Kolmodin answers questions as posed by Dan Beaulieu of DB Consulting about the future of electrical test. dan: Todd, do you see E-test as something that stays in the board shops or something that eventually gets so high-tech that it has to be done by experts? Todd: That's a great question. Technology is evolving so fast now that there will be a break-point as to whether a board shop can continue to successfully test the product they are building with the equipment they have. Advances in PCB technology are quickly pull- ing ahead of many of the older grid test ma- chines and forcing more of the product to fly- ing probes, which can cause issues in capacity and velocity for testing product and force new capital investments in electrical test equipment. This can be a difficult position for a board shop as this capital expense is difficult to justify. Cap- ital for ET machines in one sense is buying an insurance policy rather than adding any "value- add" to the PCB itself. This can be a very diffi- cult decision for manufacturing budgets. So it is fairly safe to project that as we continue on this technology roadmap we will see more outsourc- ing; as for the manufacturer, it is more cost ef- fective on the bottom line. dan: do you see the equipment itself getting more sophisticated and thus very expensive? Todd: The test equipment manufacturers will still try to make the equipment as afford- able as possible, but the demands of technology are still to be addressed. In Asia, the use of quad- density grid testers and automated dedicated testers is the norm. Here in North America we have not seen too much of this technology as of yet. I have recently seen some new designs here in the U.S. that the standard double-density grid test machine cannot even test. This forces the flying probe. Soon, the need for the quad density machines will be required to effectively provide the economical test solution. This also means capital investments and yes, these ma- chines do have higher price tags.

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