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In-Circuit Testing – The Ultimate Guide to Streamline Electronics Quality Assurance

In-circuit testing is a powerful tool for ensuring the quality and reliability of electronic components. It involves connecting test probes to specific points on a circuit board, checking its performance against predetermined standards, and making necessary modifications or repairs. This testing method can help reduce costly recalls and increase customer satisfaction by catching defects early in manufacturing. In this guide, we’ll explore the basics of in-circuit testing and discuss how it can be used to streamline electronics quality assurance processes.

Table of Contents

What Is In-Circuit Testing?

In-circuit testing is a type of PCBA testing method. Some other PCBA methods include flying probe test, AOI test, manual visual inspection, etc. In-circuit testing is electrical testing that aims to determine the proper functioning and functionality of hardware components and circuits. It involves connecting a device under test to a test system or probe card, which measures different electrical parameters such as current, voltage, resistance, capacitance, frequency, and power. 

In-Circuit Testing
In-Circuit Testing

In-circuit testing is essential to electronics quality assurance as it can detect any faults or defects in complex electronic systems before they reach the customer. This helps reduce costs by eliminating defective products from entering the market while also improving customer satisfaction by ensuring high performance and reliability. 

Additionally, in-circuit testing has become increasingly important for modern electronics due to its ability to identify subtle issues that are not easily detected through traditional methods.

ICT Testing VS Flying Probe Testing

Why Is In-Circuit Testing Important?

In-circuit testing is an important step in the electronics manufacturing process, as it helps to ensure that all components and circuits are operating correctly. It allows manufacturers to detect any issues before they become costly failures, saving time and money. 

By using specialized test probes and software, engineers can quickly identify faulty components or circuitry, allowing them to make corrections quickly and efficiently. In-circuit testing also provides valuable insight into how a product will perform in real-world conditions by providing detailed information about component behavior during operation. 

This helps manufacturers produce higher-quality products with fewer defects while reducing their overall production costs.

What Is the In-Circuit Test Process?

In-Circuit Test Process
In-Circuit Test Process

The in-circuit test process diagnoses electrical components and Printed Circuit Boards. The procedure basically entails the following: 

1. A test setup – a bed-of-nails fixture is set up for the PCB being accessed. There are specific test points on the board, which are typically the components that need testing or the electrical nodes.
2. Test program development – a test program is needed, which outlines the test procedures, measurements, and the expected results. A special test programming language is applied.
3. Execution – the test program is carried out. Electrical signals are sent through the PCB to establish feedback and compare it to the expected outcomes.
4. Measurement and analysis – electrical parameters are measured during the procedure, which include inductances, capacitances, resistances, currents, and voltages.
5. Fault diagnosis – when there’s a failure emanating from the test, specific components causing the failure are noted. The information from the ICT team then helps the technicians or engineers rectify pertinent problems.
6. Reporting – finally, the results are stored well for future referencing and analysis. The reports are used for quality assurance and control. It helps to deal or prevent any recurrent issues in the manufacturing process.

What Defects Can In-Circuit Testing Identify?

In-circuit testing can identify serious issues or defects that can compromise the integrity of a PCB. Some of the common defects it can identify include the following:

  • Power and signal integrity defects – the ICT test ensures that the signal quality, signal timings, and voltage levels meet the desired standards. Some of the issues that can be detected here include signal integrity violations, voltage fluctuations, noise, and crosstalk.
  • Component defects – this test can identify faulty components with defects during the manufacturing stage. This can include faulty diodes, incorrect pinouts, and defective ICs.
  • Soldering defects – solder splatters, excessive solder, insufficient solder, or even cold solder joints can be identified using the ICT test.
  • Incorrect component placement – verifies the correct orientation and placement of components.
  • Improper component values – measures values for inductors, capacitors, and resistors to ensure they are correct.
  • Short circuits – ICT can note unintentional connections due to solder bridges, component leads contact, or any other possible issues.
  • Open circuits – breaks in electrical connections can be noted through the ICT test. This can include incorrect soldering, broken traces, or even faulty components.

Advantages and Disadvantages of In-Circuit Testing

Advantages of in-circuit testing:

  • In-circuit testing provides a comprehensive view of the product’s electrical status during the entire manufacturing process, allowing manufacturers to make quick adjustments and detect issues early on.
  • It can be used to verify the presence and integrity of components and their electrical characteristics, such as resistances, capacitances, and inductances.
  • As it is non-destructive, in-circuit testing does not damage any components while performing component-level tests.
  • It also enables automated data logging, making it easy to track and trace individual products during manufacturing.
  • This type of testing helps ensure that all devices manufactured are functioning properly before they are shipped out to customers or used in assembly processes with other components or systems.

Disadvantages of in-circuit testing:

  • The cost of setting up an in-circuit tester can be quite expensive, especially if a manufacturer requires multiple testers for different parts of its production line.
  • If done incorrectly, the test may damage components or even cause shorts between nearby conductors on the board, thus resulting in costly repairs or reworking processes that could delay product market time.
  • Additionally, some components cannot be tested using this method due to their size or delicate nature; this requires manual interventions, which can add costs and complexity to the whole process.
  • Finally, if test results are not recorded properly, it can be difficult for manufacturers to identify specific defective parts when they need troubleshooting later.

What Is In-Circuit vs Functional Test?

In-circuit testing is a method for testing electronic components and devices on printed circuit boards (PCBs), while functional testing involves verifying the behavior of a given device or system. In-circuit tests measure electrical properties such as capacitance, resistivity, current leakage, continuity, and shorts, among other characteristics, of the electronic components to ensure that they are working correctly. 

In-Circuit vs Functional Test
In-Circuit vs Functional Test

Functional tests focus on checking how well devices or systems perform in terms of their expected tasks. Both types of tests are important for optimizing product quality assurance processes in the electronics industry.

What Is an In-Circuit Testing Machine?

In-circuit testing machines are automated devices used to detect any electrical faults in printed circuit boards. They work by measuring each component within the board to compare the readings with values stored in a database. 

This process can help identify any discrepancies, including missing components or short circuits, helping manufacturers ensure the quality of their product before it is shipped to consumers. In addition, these machines can also measure parameters such as capacitance and inductance that are not visible on the outside of a board.

With advanced features such as automatic fault isolation and self-calibration, in-circuit testing machines can greatly reduce time spent troubleshooting and increase overall efficiency during electronics manufacturing processes.

An in-circuit testing machine has the following features and components:

  • Test fixture.
  • Test electronics.
  • Probes.
  • Boundary scan support.
  • Test software.
  • Reporting and analysis.

How to Find In-Circuit Testing Services?

In-Circuit Testing Services
In-Circuit Testing Services

In-circuit testing is a valuable tool for streamlining electronics quality assurance and ensuring that all components in a circuit are functioning properly. Finding an experienced partner to provide reliable in-circuit testing services can be challenging. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to find the right service provider, including the following: 

  • Research the background of any potential providers – Check for customer reviews online and their portfolio of projects they have completed. Ask whether they have experience working with similar products or components to yours so that you can be sure of their expertise level. Additionally, read up on the regulations in your industry or sector, as different industries may have different requirements for making sure that electronic components adhere to safety standards.
  • Cost – You’ll want to get quotes from multiple vendors to compare prices, turnaround times, and other factors such as warranty coverage and the accuracy rate of tests conducted on the product. Many vendors offer discounts on bulk orders or recurring services, so make sure to inquire about those possibilities as well. 
  • Up-to-date technology and equipment that can quickly handle the latest technologies and provide accurate results. 
  • Customer support options – in case something goes wrong or if changes need to be made after the testing has been completed. Reliable customer service is essential for a successful partnership. 

Final Thoughts

In-circuit testing is an essential part of any electronics quality assurance process. It ensures that all components are working correctly and efficiently, helping to ensure a top-quality product for your customers.

With the right in-circuit testing company like IBE on your side, you can streamline this critical process while ensuring accuracy and reliability. From cutting-edge technology to expert support staff, IBE offers everything you need to ensure each circuit board meets stringent standards before shipping. Investing in reliable in-circuit testing services will save time and money by catching defects early on, so contact us today to get started!

FAQ

In-circuit testing is a type of electrical testing that aims to determine the proper functioning and functionality of hardware components and circuits. It involves connecting a device under test to a test system or probe card, which measures different electrical parameters such as current, voltage, resistance, capacitance, frequency, and power.

In-circuit testing is an important step in the electronics manufacturing process, as it helps to ensure that all components and circuits are operating correctly. It allows manufacturers to detect any issues before they become costly failures, saving time and money.

In-circuit testing is a method for testing electronic components and devices on printed circuit boards (PCBs), while functional testing involves verifying the behavior of a given device or system.

In-circuit tests measure electrical properties such as capacitance, resistivity, current leakage, continuity, and shorts, among other characteristics, of the electronic components to ensure that they are working correctly. Functional tests focus on checking how well devices or systems perform in terms of their expected tasks.

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