Why Is In-Circuit Testing (ICT) Important?

November 15, 2021

Circuits Central is a company that offers electronic manufacturing services in Waterloo, Ontario. One of the many electronic manufacturing services we offer is in-circuit testing (ICT) of printed circuit boards.

Printed circuit boards, although small, are made up of hundreds of components and even more solder connections. Since they are so complicated, it’s vital that they are thoroughly tested to ensure they are reliable. A minor defect in one part of a printed circuit board can cause the entire circuit board to fail.

In this article, we’ll explain:

  • What in-circuit testing involves
  • What types of in-circuit testers there are
  • Why in-circuit testing is so important

At Circuits Central, we pride ourselves on offering a wide variety of post-manufacturing testing services in Waterloo as part of the overall electronic manufacturing services that we offer.

What is in-circuit testing?

The purpose of in-circuit testing, or ICT, is to detect any defective components in a printed circuit board. During ICT, essential parameters such as resistance and capacitance are measured, along with the operations of various analog components and digital circuits.

ICT is divided into two parts:

  • Power-Off tests, which are tests applied to a printed circuit board with no power on.
  • Power-On tests, which are tests applied to a printed circuit board with power on.

When ICT testing is performed, all of the following parts of a printed circuit board are tested or checked:

  • Component spacing and markings
  • Soldering
  • Shorts between traces or component leads
  • Open circuits where there shouldn’t be any
  • Resistor values in the circuit
  • All jumpers and switches in the appropriate location and/or have the right setting
  • Issues with analog and digital components, including wrong or missing components
  • Capacitance and inductance values
  • Short circuits

At Circuits Central, we offer high-quality ICT as part of our overall Waterloo-based electronic manufacturing services.

What different types of in-circuit testers are there?

The generic term “in-circuit tester” within the electronic manufacturing services industry refers to all different types of testers. There are several various types of testers available.

These are four of the most common types of ICT machines:

  1. A standard ICT machine. This is considered a “generic” tester, but it still provides very high-quality ICT testing. With a standard ICT machine, you can perform a variety of testing, including checking resistance and continuity measurements. You can also use standard ICT machines to check things like capacitance, which is the ability of a printed circuit board to store an electric charge.
  2. Another type of ICT is a flying probe tester: With a flying probe tester, a test probe moves or “flies” from one test point to another. The test probe follows instructions provided by a software program specifically created for the printed circuit board being tested.
  3. Manufacturing defect analyzer or MDA. The purpose of an MDA is to find manufacturing defects such as short circuits or open circuit connections. Using an MDA, you can test a printed circuit board for critical features such as resistance, continuity, and insulation.
  4. Cableform tester. The purpose of a cableform tester is clearly spelled out in the name: to test cables. It functions similarly to a manufacturing defect analyzer. One key difference is the use of high voltages with cableform testers to test insulation.

The type of ICT machine you will need depends on several factors, including the type of printed circuit boards being tested and the number of boards being tested. With ICT from Circuits Central, you’ll get the correct type of testing as part of our overall electronic manufacturing services.

Why is in-circuit testing so important?

As printed circuit boards play a vital role in their electronics, they must function properly! That’s why in-circuit testing is so important. It’s far better for a printed circuit board error to be caught before it’s shipped out rather than after it’s already in use.

These are the key aspects to successful in-circuit testing:

  • In-circuit testers are easy to program, and there’s very little room for operator error.
  • In-circuit testing is quick, reliable, and comprehensive. ICT is excellent at detecting manufacturing defects, from a printed circuit board having the wrong components to issues with shorts circuits and open circuits.
  • The results from in-circuit testing are easy to interpret. It is simple to locate a problem in the printed circuit board, as the testing system will flag the problematic node or component.

How can Circuits Central help me with electronic manufacturing services in Waterloo?

At Circuits Central, we offer a wide variety of electronic manufacturing services, including post-manufacturing testing of printed circuit boards. Thorough post-production testing is critical to ensure that only high-quality printed circuit boards are shipped out.

We can provide you with customized testing procedures tailored to your specific product. We can offer you a wide variety of testing options, including:

  • Functional Testing
  • JTAG Testing
  • In-Circuit Testing
  • Environmental Stress Testing
  • Single-sided Flying Probe Testing
  • Double-sided Flying Probe Testing
  • Burn-In
  • Thermal Cycling

Our experienced staff can develop, implement, and execute your testing specifications, thus ensuring a high level of quality assurance and that your product meets high standards of reliability and functionality.

In-Circuit Testing Is Essential for High-Quality Printed Circuit Boards

Thorough in-circuit testing is essential to ensure that your end customers only receive high-quality printed circuit boards. Here, we’ve explained:

  • How in-circuit testing works.
  • What some of the most common types of in-circuit testers are.
  • Why in-circuit testing is so important.

We’re proud to offer high-quality ICT as part of our electronic manufacturing services.

Contact Us About In-Circuit Testing

Working together with your team, we can put together a comprehensive testing procedure for your product. We’re also happy to talk to you about any of our other Waterloo-based electronic manufacturing services, including printed circuit board prototyping assembly, product upgrades, and BGA reballing and repair services.

We serve a variety of industries, including the medical industry, aerospace and defence, and renewable energy. You can reach us at 1 (888) 602-7264, fill out our contact form, or email us at info@circuits-central.com.

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