Speedy 'flies' in South Africa

27 February 2002 News

Said to be the best-selling flying probe tester in the world, the ‘Speedy’ was installed in January at Bosco Printed Circuits in Edenvale. This machine is already heavily utilised, and runs 24 hours a day.

The Speedy is manufactured by Mania, a mainstream supplier of manufacturing equipment to the PCB industry. Mania equipment is promoted and supported by Zetech in South Africa.

Andrew Verheul, technical and production director of Bosco Printed Circuits (left), and Zalman Orlianski, Zetech managing director, at the Bosco factory
Andrew Verheul, technical and production director of Bosco Printed Circuits (left), and Zalman Orlianski, Zetech managing director, at the Bosco factory

Flying test probe systems are much more flexible is use than conventional adapter test systems. Especially for boards with fine pitches, there is hardly any alternative to flying probe testers. However, they were relatively slow compared to flat bed testers, making them mainly suitable for only prototype circuits and small batches. Now this has changed with the arrival of the Speedy, whose price/performance ratio offers new possibilities. With a few Speedy machines used together, medium and large sized batches can be tested. This is an application that is becoming more and more popular in industry.

Customers insist on receiving 100% tested boards. Due to increasing board complexities, the electrical test has become more and more expensive. Fine pitches make it difficult to produce a 'bed of nails' free of shorts. The high number of test points and density make increasingly exacting demands on the test electronics of the conventional test systems, resulting in rising prices. On extremely complex high-density boards, adapter testers have problems. It often happens that a combined bed-of-nails and flying probe tester is necessary - or there is no other alternative than to do an optical test only.

Additional to this, the bed-of-nails tester is only effective for mass production. A flying probe tester does not need any fixture/bed of nails. It can test fine pitch grids with pad spaces of 0,4 mm or less as a matter of course. Of course, whereas a bed-of-nails tests all points at the same time, a flying probe tester has to move sequentially from point to point. This increases test time, and so the method is mainly used for small batches.

Mania's Speedy concept opened up new horizons for PCB manufacturers. The compact finger tester is well equipped compared even with high-end test systems. By concentrating on the essentials - fast flying probe testing - Mania was able to manufacture an extremely cost effective system. Speedy's performance is quite remarkable. According to a customer, the standard model with four test probes - Speedy MPP4504 - can test a board of 500 networks 1000 network points including set-up, within 1,8 minutes. Since its introduction four years ago, the Speedy has become the best-selling flying probe tester in the world according to the manufacturer.

The admirable price/performance ratio of the tester makes its application for mass production cost-effective. The relatively low speed of the flying probe test concept is compensated for by the fact several systems can work on one job at the same time. For the price of a single conventional double-sided SMD bed-of-nails tester, or a high-end flying probe tester, it is possible to install several Speedy test systems. Customers have recognised this. Fujitsu, in Japan, has 16 Speedy testers that can deal with either one large, or several small jobs at the same time. A central server enables relevant test data to be downloaded automatically. Only two operators are required to run the 16 systems. The systems are used for fault verification, prototypes, and small and medium size batches. Especially critical and complex boards go through a flying probe tester, while the use of bed-of-nails testers is then optimised because they can be dedicated for mass production. Speedy takes over all test jobs, which have nothing to do with a mass production.

Mania's Speedy flying probe testers are ideally suited for South African PCB manufacturers, to enhance their competitiveness against overseas suppliers. The Speedy enables fast and efficient tests of prototypes, small batches and fine pitch boards, and multiple Speedy installations are cost-effective for medium-size batches. The system is extremely simple and easy to use, and is backed by the proven support infrastructure of Zetech locally.

For further information contact Zalman Orlianski, Zetech, 011 789 3230.


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