Testing is the final step of any manufacturing process, and arguably the most important, and yet it can often be overlooked. Releasing a poorly tested product onto the market has destroyed more than one reputation for quality, and this is even more important in an age when information can be shared globally at the click of a mouse.
At the same time, product testing has become hugely more sophisticated as the products themselves have grown more complex. Gone are the days when testing was as simple as plugging in the power and seeing if the lights came on. Modern electronic devices possess such sophistication that nothing but the most comprehensive testing schedule is enough to ensure end-product quality.
In almost all manufacturing processes, the connector represents the front line in the battle to ensure quality. It is the connector that provides the crucial link to the outside world for all but the most straightforward mechanical devices. As a result, it is the connector that provides the means to test the device before it is shipped.
Understanding the Connector’s Role
It is important to remember that the overwhelming majority of connectors work as part of a two-part system. In these, every connector is actually part of a pair. In use, connector pairs perform together, but when looking at testing, the two halves are not equal.
Let us imagine a device that will be installed and used daily. If the device is only moved occasionally – for example during maintenance or refit – the actual connectors may only be plugged in a handful of times during their operational life.
In contrast, the connectors that form part of the testing equipment might be used hundreds or even thousands of times per day. This means that the connectors selected must provide not only superior electrical performance, but also be mechanically reliable.
To complicate this further, it is entirely possible that the device under test will be exposed to extreme conditions, even in the safe environment of the laboratory. Devices under test (DUT) need to be subjected to the conditions that they will encounter during use, and so test connectors need to be selected that will allow this.
Connectors for Test Applications
Test connectors need to perform better than the systems they are designed to test. In order to ensure their connectors are up to the task, Samtec have developed a range of qualifications to provide customers with peace of mind:
- Design Qualification Testing (DQT)
At the fundamental level, all Samtec connectors undergo an extensive qualification process to verify that they are fit for the purpose.
- Extended Life Product™ (E.L.P.™)
Testing connectors need to be able to provide reliable service over a long period. Samtec has developed the Extended Life Product program to investigate the performance of its connectors and certify them for long-term use. These tests include 10 year mixed flowing gas (MFG) and testing for repeated use, in some cases up to 2,500 mating cycles.
- Severe Environment Testing (SET)
To provide products that are destined for harsh conditions, a range of Samtec connectors have been included in the Severe Environment Testing (SET) program. This places connectors in conditions beyond those required by existing industry standards to ensure their performance in the most demanding applications. Being designed to meet and even exceed these highly demanding standards, Samtec connectors can provide customers with confidence when choosing test products.
- Signal Integrity Screening
As data speeds increase in new equipment, it is essential that connectors used in testing do not affect the accuracy of the tests by introducing signal integrity degradation. Samtec is at the forefront of high-speed interconnection development, and has developed a range of in-house tests to ensure that their connectors provide optimum performance.
- Leakage Testing
A key part of any testing regime concerns safety. Samtec has developed an in-house test platform that can evaluate connectors intended for applications with higher voltage levels and extremely sensitive current leakage specifications to provide additional peace of mind.
Samtec has released a new document dedicated to solutions for test connectivity. It gives a background understanding of the need for dedicated test connectors, a range of products that ideally suited for the test environment, and practical examples of how these connectors can be employed in a range of applications. Download a copy today and learn how Samtec is ready for the next generation of testing platforms.