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Plated Probes improve Uptime on In-circuit Test Applications

ECT LFRE Pogo07 December 2015 - Everett Charles Technologies (ECT) has proven the exceptional performance of LFRE spring probe products in a challenging evaluation at a major automotive electronics supplier with global manufacturing facilities. The ECT LFRE probes, which were used in an in-circuit test fixture, tripled insertion life and reduced cleaning frequency by a factor of 10 compared to the original set up.

ECT LFRE probes meet the challenges of lead free pads. Lead free solder has a higher reflow temperature, which can result in harder and stickier solder flux resin and a thicker, harder oxide layer. This thicker layer of resin and oxide is more difficult to penetrate and increases wear on the pogo pin. Lead free solder resin and oxides can also increase debris transfer to spring probes. These are many of the issues found in OSP (Organic Solderability Preservatives) and no-clean applications.

ECT’s proprietary LFRE plated probes have two key attributes that make it an ideal choice for the most challenging PCB test applications. LFRE provides a smooth, slick plating surface that not only resists wear but also resists solder and debris transfer. ECT’s LFRE plating is also significantly harder than the industry’s standard gold plating and has a hardness range of 550 to 650 Knoop. This makes the probe tips much more durable and less susceptible to solder and material transfer. LFRE probes incorporate a double roll close, which offers the industry’s best pointing accuracy. Increased pointing accuracy is of benefit when using lead free solder and/or no-clean as the probe is less likely to touch the edge of the pad where the solder flux accumulates.

Tony DeRosa, Product Manager, highlights: “The customer was experiencing excessive cleaning, short probe life, and low first pass yield. Contamination due to excessive solder flux was limiting probe life to only 60k insertions. We were able to improve insertion life to more than 180k cycles and to reduce the cleaning frequency to 2-3 times per week.”

LFRE plated probes leverage ECT’s long-term expertise in materials and platings along with probe fabrication knowledge. The LFLT probe - the long travel version of the LFRE probe - incorporates ECT’s proven PogoPlus bias ball design and double roll close process. Both of which contribute to making sustainable and reliable contact to PCB targets.

LFRE Pogo pins are available in a variety of spring force choices and pitches. All of ECT’s lead free (LFRE) probes have a spring fatigue life that surpasses 500,000 cycles.

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