Clare adds flash to PCB testing

Circuit World

ISSN: 0305-6120

Article publication date: 22 August 2008



(2008), "Clare adds flash to PCB testing", Circuit World, Vol. 34 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Clare adds flash to PCB testing

Article Type: New products From: Circuit World, Volume 34, Issue 3

PCB manufacturers can take advantage of a fast, reliable and safe solution to meet the growing demand for flash/HIPOT tested (2 kV) unpopulated boards.

Electrical safety testing specialists Clare Instruments has developed a bespoke system utilising its HAL H101 instrument connected to a test enclosure which enables the easy flash testing of PCBs during the initial production stages (Figure 2).

 Figure 2 The HAL H101 instrument connected to a test enclosure

Figure 2 The HAL H101 instrument connected to a test enclosure

The enclosure has a conductive foam base with modular sections to accommodate different sizes of PCBs. It can have either a spring mounted probe system or a further section of conductive foam can be added to allow it to work with different types of PCBs.

The move follows an increasing US-led trend that all base PCBs must now be flash tested during the manufacturing process to ensure that they have no defects and are compliant with safety standards.

This comes from growing demand among global component assemblers that all electronic components should be able to pass a flash test before final build.

Two types of PCB can be tested: those with one surface covered in metal and “standard” units with an insulated side.

Regardless, the track side of the PCB is placed face down on the conductive foam, enabling all metallic parts to be in contact with the foam and providing a “base bed” for the remainder of the insulating surface of the board. Once in position, a flash test is then performed across the board, testing for integrity.

Stewart Haile, Business Manager for Clare Instruments, said the HAL-based solution will help to meet the growing requirement for flash tested PCBs.

“Electronics manufacturers want to ensure that component parts are capable of withstanding the voltages that final assembled products will operate to.”

“Some manufacturers in the UK and China have already adopted this approach for their PCBs, while others are expected to follow to suit.”

The H101 is part of an advanced range of digital instruments from Clare which can perform the complete suite of standard electrical safety tests and allows full traceability of test results and records via internal data memory storage.

The tester performs earth bond, AC/DC hi pot (flash) and insulation testing to ensure the compatibility of Class II electrical products with technical and performance standards.

Tests can be applied individually or in set automatic sequences for repetitive multi-test routines. Test specifications can be quickly configured into the tester by scanning in pre-defined bar codes making the equipment ideal for ISO traceable systems in QA, conformance and production line applications.

These pre-defined bar codes can be generated directly from the tester on adhesive labels or from proprietary Microsoft PC applications.

The H101 is part of the HAL range offering selectable 50 or 60 Hz output frequencies for flash testing and incorporates a 30 A constant current low voltage ground bond test. Other features include a large high-contrast bar graph display of the mOhm value from 0 to 1,000 and of the programmed output current in Amps.

Specialist software and a large capacity internal database capable of storing up to 6,000 records gives the test instrument the ability to store test details and results against individual equipment serial numbers.

Test reports can be downloaded directly to a PC or printer for the generation of complete test data records. The instrument is fully compatible with the requirements of the EN50191 directive on test environments.

Clare Instruments, part of the Seaward Group, is a market leading supplier of electrical safety testing instrumentation and systems into the UK rental and hire industry.

For further information, please contact, Tel.: 0191 587 8741; E-mail:; web site:

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