Flash testing of PCBs during initial production stages

December 10, 2012 // By Julien Happich
PCB manufacturers can take advantage of a fast, reliable and safe solution to meet the growing demand for flash/HIPOT tested (2kV) unpopulated boards.

Electrical safety testing specialists Clare has developed a bespoke system using its HAL104 instrument connected to a test enclosure, which enables the easy flash testing of PCBs during the initial production stages. The enclosure has a conductive foam base with modular sections to accommodate different sizes of PCBs. It can have either a spring mounted probe system or a further section of conductive foam can be added to allow it to work with different types of PCBs. The move follows the increasing US-led trend that all base PCBs must now be flash tested during the manufacturing process to ensure that they have no defects and are compliant with safety standards. This comes from growing demand among global component assemblers that all electronic components should be able to pass a flash test before final build.

Two types of PCB can be tested: those with one surface covered in metal and 'standard' units with an insulated side.

Regardless, the track side of the PCB is placed face down on the conductive foam, enabling all metallic parts to be in contact with the foam and providing a ‘base bed’ for the remainder of the insulating surface of the board. Once in position, a flash test is then performed across the board, testing for integrity.

The HAL104 is part of an advanced range of digital instruments which can perform the complete suite of standard electrical safety tests and allows full traceability of test results and records via internal data memory storage. It combines the performance of a multi-function production line safety tester with load and power factor measurement for product energy consumption and ratings assessments. As well as load and power functional tests, the new tester incorporates AC/DC Hipot, insulation, ground bond testing to 40A, load testing up to 20A (5kVA) with leakage measurements from 100 microAmps to 20 milliamps, with 10 microAmp resolution.

Visit Seaward Electronic at www.seaward.co.uk