ECT Improving Performance and Reliability for PCBA Test and Industrial Applications

Everett Charles Technologies Launches l40 Tip Style

Everett Charles Technologies (ECT) launches the new l40 tip style. The innovative geometry of the l40 tip ensures best yield and reliability and overcomes the challenges of contacting lead free solder or OSP treated copper.

Lead free solder and OSP treated copper present a harder or more abrasive contact surface causing excessive plating and probe tip wear. The l40‘s advanced off axis tip geometry machining methodology was designed to improve tip wear and resistance to tip fracturing. l40 tip style offers a more robust probe design and a longer tip life. The l40‘s straight shaft lance with a 40° facet combines the penetration capability of a sharp tip probe while providing added material behind the tip to increase strength.

l40 tip style is available for probes that meet the toughest challenges in PCBA test and industrial test while providing superior performance and reliability.

The development of the l40 tip style combined the thorough understanding of the needs in the PCBA test and industrial test markets with leading in-house design and manufacturing capabilitites.

The l40 tip style is featured on ECT‘s Metrix, LFRE and LFTL probe series.

Read more about ICT / FCT Probes

atg Luther & Maelzer to exhibit at TPCA Show 2014

Leading Bare Board PCB Test Solutions – Testing the Limits

atg Luther & Maelzer will exhibit its leading PCB test solutions at the upcoming TPCA show, scheduled to take place October 22-24, 2014 at the Nangang Exhibition Center Taipei, Taiwan.

At the show, atg Luther & Maelzer will showcase the latest product of their industry leading flying probe product line: A8-8 Flying Probe Tester

The A8-8 is the fastest flying probe tester in its class. Eight test heads, fast Kelvin test and four high resolution color cameras ensure fast and highly accurate test. The A8-8 features direct linear drives with carbon z-axis, to support quick and stable movements. The A8-8 is the leading edge test solution for all kinds of bare boards.

For more information, meet company representatives at the show or visit

ECT Launches Versatile RF Probes Semiconductor Test

Z1 and Z0 Probes leverages ECT‘s flat technology to achieve the next level performance

Everett Charles Technologies (ECT) launches two new members of the ZIP™ probe family designed to meet signal integrity challenges driven by the ever increasing speed of semiconductors devices. Z0 and Z1 probes are a cost effective solution that provide excellent mechanical reliability and electrical performance.

Tony DeRosa, Senior Product Manager points out: “While conventional round probe technology restricts travel and only allows for a small internal contact area, ZIP™ based on ECT’s flat technology offers generous travel and a large contact area. The result is excellent electrical performance for the critical parameters of bandwidth, contact resistance and current capacity. The manufacturing processes used to fabrication ZIP™ probes are extremely repeatable and stable ensuring probe to probe consistency. We have over four decades of spring probe engineering experience. Our patented, innovative flat probe technology optimized electrical and mechanical performance. ECT offers ZIP in two high performance versions: Z1 and Z0”.

Z1 is ECT’s high bandwidth series with a test height of 2.7 mm. It offers an insertion loss of approximately 30 Ghz at -1 dB. Z0 is ECT’s ultra-high bandwidth series. Z0’s short test height of 1.5 mm and 0.60 nH of inductance provides an insertion loss of 40 Ghz at -1 dB. The probes are available for semiconductor packages with a pitch down to 0.4 mm and are applicable for a wide range of RF testing of applications from lab and characterization to burn-in to high volume final test.

Read more about Semiconductor Probes

Xcerra™ to present at Semicon Europa 2014

The new brand in the electronics supply chain dedicated to your success

Xcerra Corporation announces that Peter Cockburn, Senior Product Manager of Test Cell Innovation, will give a presentation at the upcoming Semicon Europa trade show, scheduled to take place October 7-9 in Grenoble, France. Peter will present “Using a Test-Cell-Solution Approach to Achieve Device Quality and Production-Efficiency Goals for 77GHz Automotive Radar ICs” on Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 1:50 p.m. in session 1 “System-Level Approaches for Optimizing Test” of the 16th European Manufacturing and Test Conference (EMTC). The presentation has been co-authored by Mauro Strazzeri of STMicroelectronics.

Legislation to reduce car injuries is causing dramatic growth in ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems). Radar-based ADAS are moving from 24GHz to 77GHz, providing better range, bandwidth and resolution for detecting objects. Automotive 0 ppm failure rates necessitate full functional test of the ADAS ICs at 24GHz or 77GHz in both engineering and high volume manufacturing (HVM).

Specialized ATE solutions may be under-utilized as requirements change and are not well adapted for HVM. An ideal solution should be usable with different RF and Automotive applications.

A co-development between ST and Xcerra has already implemented 28GHz RF test to maintain the highest quality levels. This is based on a flexible test cell base that can be used for other requirements and a system-level solution to maximize OEE and minimize cost. The test cell is now being extended to provide a 77GHz test solution.

The device under test (DUT) has 38GHz IF and several 77GHz TxRx to implement a multiple beam solution for best performance. The DUT also uses >1 Gigabit serial I/O to facilitate high speed data transfer.

The test cell uses a low-cost 6GHz subsystem and optional radar frequency test modules to balance flexibility and cost of full-speed test.

An integrated test cell design of the complete signal path, from RF instrumentation, through the fixture and contactor to the DUT, is used to maintain 77GHz signal quality. Production contactors are required for WLCSP and packaged devices. In-socket calibration verifies signal performance at the DUT.

Because automotive ICs operate at extended hot and cold temperatures, a “trip-temp” handler ensures the highest test coverage. A system-level mechanical design enables temperature accuracy of +/-2 DegC.

In conclusion, the customer‘s DUT is tested to the highest levels of coverage, to guarantee quality at the OEMs. The vendor has proven an optimized test cell approach to provide a cost-effective solution with the highest OEE.

Peter Cockburn has worked in the ATE industry for over 24 years at Schlumberger, NPTest, Credence, LTX-Credence and now Xcerra. He has developed real-time and GUI software for ATE systems, managed the launch of several SOC ATE systems and new analog test options and provided marketing and sales support in USA, Asia and Europe. As Product Manager in the Test Cell Innovation team, he is now defining new ways to reduce cost and increase uptime when testing semiconductors. He has an Engineering degree from the University of Southampton, UK.

Everett Charles Technologies Releases HyperCore™ Material to Full ZIP™ Probe Product Line

Premium Performance for Semiconductor Test Based on Superior Probe Material

Everett Charles Technologies (ECT) releases the HyperCore™ material to the full ZIP™ product line. ZIP™ is an ECT single probe family that is dedicated to semiconductor test applications. HyperCore™ is an innovative, non-plated and homogenous probe material optimized for longer probe life, longer cleaning cycles and reliable contact.

HyperCore™ leverages ECT’s extensive knowledge of contact materials. This proprietary material possesses properties that prevent oxidation, ensuring premium performance throughput high volume production cycles. With its 600 Knoop hardness, HyperCore™ is inert to common wear related to contacting tough surfaces and abrasive cleaning.

Tony DeRosa, Senior Product Manager explains: “ECT’s ZIP™ probes architecture features an innovative design that provide for superior contact capability. All ZIP™ products have a large internal contact area resulting in low resistance, superior bandwidth and excellent conductance. HyperCore™ adds an advanced material option to expand the cost of test technology. HyerCore™ ZIP™ probes present a new level of accuracy, scalability and performance in high volume semiconductor test.”

HyperCore™ is available as material option for all ZIP™ probes.

Read more about Semiconductor Probes

Cost-efficient Fine Pitch Load Boards Meet Market Needs

Multitest PCBs are leading the way for 0.3 mm pitch array applications

Multitest has again increased its lead over the competition for fine pitch load boards. Advancements in proprietary plating processes along with new technology in drilling and registration techniques ensure reliability, short cycle times and low cost. Multitest has responded to the needs of its customers in the very price sensitive mobile applications and vertical probe cards markets.

Fine pitch printed circuit boards are still a challenge in ATE board the industry, but Multitest leverages its expertise in single lamination high aspect PCBs to support the demands of fine pitch BGA and WLCSP applications. Based on many years of experience building high aspect ratios, Multitest deploys state-of-the-art equipment in a stable process to use mechanical drilling for 0.3mm & 0.35mm pitch via in pad constructions. PCBs with 40+ layers at .35 mm can be manufactured in a single lamination process without the use of laser drilled, “stacked”, blind vias.

Christopher Cuda, Product Manager, comments: “Using our established and continuously refined fabrication processes for 0.3 & 0.35mm geometries enables us to meet today’s requirements at reasonable cost and with the reliability customers have come to expect from Multitest.”


Strip Test for Automotive Applications

European IDM selected Multitest InStrip for high parallel test in automotive production

Multitest InStrip® test handler has been already well-established at a number of different customers in Asia, Europe and US. Recently, Multitest received a multiple order from European IDM that will leverage the high-parallel test capability for standard SOCs for the automotive market.

In the past strip test was considered not be appropriate for applications with high quality requirements – such as automotive or medical – because singulation of the packages would have to take place after testing. Multitest‘s InCarrier concept overcomes these issues and combines the substantial advantages of the strip handling process with the quality driven advantages of the standard test handling process. “Although the automotive market is driven by high quality requirements, reduced cost of test will give our customers a competitive advantage. High parallel strip test will substantially increase their test efficiency”, explains Peter Killermann, product manager.

The Multitest InStrip is known for production proven performance in tri-temp strip test of standard ICs and MEMS. Leading contacting technology, outstanding temperature performance, ease of use as well as greatest flexibility make the InStrip® the optimal solution for high volume final test. Advanced device tracking features as well as factory automation options like recipe management and remote system control support the high quality demands of the automotive users.

“High temperature performance and tri-temp capability is a standard requirement in the automotive market segment. The Multitest InStrip particularly convinced with the proven temperature accuracy and stability for the entire carrier”, concludes Killermann.

Learn more about Multitest strip test solutions

Everett Charles Technologies Expands Line of Battery Probes

CP-2 probe family combines best volume production qualities and cost with design flexibility and fast prototype

Everett Charles Technologies (ECT) recently launched the next generation of Battery Interconnect Probes. The versatile CP-2 probe family is highly flexible and designed to match any performance, cost and assembly requirements.

CP-2 probes support many charging and docking applications at a better cost point than other similar products. The CP-2 family is modular and supersedes time-consuming re-designs for customization. Probe options include several lengths and mounting options including a right angle solution. Therefore selecting the appropriate length of the pin, pressing it into plastics or attaching it to a PWB is easy. The CP-2 probes can be configured to fully meet the requirements of OEM projects. The CP-2 probe family combines best volume production qualities and pricing with wide design flexibility and quick turn prototyping.

Tony DeRosa, Product Manager, comments: “We understand the need of our customers for widest design flexibility and rapid prototyping as well as cost pressures in volume manufacturing. With our design expertise and complete manufacturing capabilities we can help bring competitive products to market faster.”

Read more about Battery Probes

“Seeking Growth” the topic of the panel discussion at Semicon West:

Xcerra Meets Current Trends in the Semiconductor Business with a Most Comprehensive Approach

The semiconductor test and packaging industry segment is being driven by adoption of increased integration, advanced packaging, and adaptive test. Well-balanced and innovative strategies will be needed to ensure further productivity gains at the semiconductor manufacturers. Equipment suppliers have to reconsider both – their portfolio and organizational structure to meet the new market challenges with innovations starting at products but reaching up to full system level solutions. A comprehensive understanding of the overall electronic market trends ranging from components to assembled modules to end products is required to actively contribute to the next generation technology in test and packaging.

Main technology drivers that will enable future market growth

Social megatrends of globalization and mobility paired with ongoing efforts for optimizing processes and speed directly influence the demand for electronics. Three major technology drivers will shape the industry while moving forward:

  • Wireless connectivity
  • Internet of Things
  • Broader usage of advanced sensors

In the test and packaging market this will enforce advanced packaging such as 3D and WLCSP. The new packaging technologies are redefining how and where (at what stage) test ought to be performed. A lot of challenges (therefore opportunities) for new handling and contacting techniques can be anticipated. From a pure “test” point of view, known good die, partial stack test, interposer and substrate test are also new “frontiers” to be explored.

Larger volumes of advanced sensors will need to be tested. Depending on the end application different cost and test quality level have to be achieved. The larger volumes will be split in a growing variety of sensor types. So flexibility in test will be a major differentiator.

In many cases these drivers will combine to drive new applications. Test cells will have to efficiently deal with more complex packages and heterogonous stacks.

How the significant productivity gains over the last decade can be continued

Over the last 10 years the focus has been on getting more productivity at lower cost from the tester. These efforts were followed by similar approaches for handling equipment and test interfaces. All these conventional ways to reduce cost and increase productivity by optimizing tester, handler, interfaces as single elements are reaching their limits. No significant returns can be expected from here. It is time to focus attention on the complete test cell.

Parallel to integrating more functions on an IC – integration can lead to higher performance at lower cost. Today OEE of the test cell with optimized single elements is at best in 70% range. There is a need to harmonize the performance of the test cell elements to effectively improve the overall OEE. The test cell needs to be considered as ONE integrated tool while maintaining widest flexibility. The ATE multisite capabilities, and probecards. Advanced packaging processes such as 3D packaging and WLCSP as well as integrated MCU/RF/Sensor applications will require more focus on the back end manufacturing flow rather than just test insertions.

For the overall semiconductor manufacturer‘s business the test cell approach will significantly contribute to their success by reducing the time to market – particularly for challenging applications. To gain security here, introduce new products as scheduled and be first to market, will easily multiply the direct from increasing test cell OEE.

Xcerra addresses the requirements for future gains

Xcerra is the parrent company for four powerful players in the electronic industry. For the semiconductor market Xcerra consolidates the product portfolio of LTXC’s ATE with Multitest’s handlers and interface products. Everett Charles Technologies and atg Luther & Maelzer expand the portfolio for the electronic market beyond semiconductors.

The market already appreciates Xcerra as a convenient and time-saving one-stop shop. Xcerra will be able to provide a fully harmonized and performance optimized test cell. Shipping a prequalified test cell will significantly accelerate time to volume for the semiconductor manufacturer. Time to volume is now a bigger issue than time to market. End customers like Apple, Samsung expects ramp from 0 to a few millions with 0dppm in a few weeks. For high growth market segments Xcerra sees additional potential in new products integration handler, contactor, loadboard and tester technology.

For developing new solutions Xcerra has a complete set of technologies and experienced resources “in house” ranging from hardware design and software engineering, to precision mechanical design to fabrication. This will ensure leading-edge solutions and fast availability.

Finally, being connected at all nodes of electronics manufacturing gives Xcerra significant insight and therefore a strategic advantage. Trends in PCB assembly and test will allow for anticipating changing demands in packaging and test.

Internet of Things: Are new test strategies needed?

The Internet of Things (loT) seems to be on a good growth trajectory. Novel sensor devices for the end nodes, combinations thereof are launched every month.

Successful test strategies need to ensure that the new sensors devices will be tested and calibrated efficiently. Sensor test typically includes providing a defined stimulus signal while the device is being tested. Today classical gravity, pick & place or turret sensor handling with a stimulus box and their economics are deployed. Whereas for some application areas they still seem to fulfill the requirements, the limits need to be considered. What will be the alternatives?

Sensor Test Requirements

Many sensors – many of them being MEMS based – require a thorough calibration and test prior to being assembled into the end node device. Sensor test typically includes providing a defined stimulus signal – e.g. acceleration, turn, magnetic field, sound, moisture, gas – while the devices are being tested not only to validate the device function but also to calibrate its output signals. Test needs to be done under challenging conditions: e.g. acceleration as high as 100g is 10 times that what electronics in a fighter jet are typically exposed to.

Over the past two decades handler manufactures have provided test handlers, with a stimulus module. Some sensor handling equipment has also been built for specific stimuli and using traditional pick & place concepts.

It is clear though that standard gravity, pick & place and turret handlers were designed for different applications – other package types, test times, tester constraints, temperature requirements etc.

Unique Features of Sensors Influence Test

Sensor devices have very unique features much different from the “average” IC:

  • low number of IOs (6-14)
  • small package outline – 4mmx4mm until a few years ago, now 2mmx2mm or smaller, the first wafer-level sensors are emerging
  • “active areas” on the package – pressure, microphone or optical ports
  • test time can be long, e.g. >30secs for pressure sensors, or short, e.g. >5secs for low g accelerometers
  • tester resources are hardly a limit and test parallelism of 256x can be achived

Particularly consumer applications sensors have other important attributes:

  • they need to be low cost to enable a high volume market penetration
  • if they ramp, they can ramp steeply – but many devices do not make it to volume
  • product life cycles are short (2-3 years)
  • the next product generation often requires an altered or totally different stimulus

Implications on Test Equipment

While testers can be reconfigured and re-used, it is not uncommon that test handlers cannot be upgraded to meet the next generation requirements and are essentially obsoleted after a period much shorter than the depreciation time. This trend is often exacerbated by device package outlines shrinking beyond the practical capability of the handling concept initially chosen for the first generation sensor device.

MEMS/sensor manufacturers will need to analyze the appropriate application areas and limits of “classical” gravity, pick & place or turret sensor handling with a stimulus box and their economics. Test equipment suppliers need to provide solutions that support alternatives including sensor calibration by electrical stimulus, wafer level stimulus, strip testing and carrier based testing.

Upcoming sensor fusion into single packages (“combos”) and the integration with radios and uControllers as driven by the loT will add further challenges and increase the need and value of a well-defined test strategy.

Xcerra – Complete Test Cells for MEMS/sensors

Xcerra combines industry-leading Multitest MEMS concepts with the long-term experience of the LTX-Credence ATE team. Xcerra is in a unique position to offer full turn-key, one-stop shop MEMS test cells comprising ATE, test interfaces, test handler and MEMS stimulus. Moreover with the Xcerra inhouse design and engineering capabilities, optimized MEMS test solutions can be offered that leverage the unprecedented ability for advanced harmonization and integration.