Microwave Journal

Agilent Technologies Offers Right-to-Use Licenses for Industry's First Proven Technology for Placing Test Targets on PCB Signal Traces

October 24, 2006
SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 24, 2006 -- Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced the licensing of Agilent Medalist Bead Probe Technology, a proven methodology for placing solder beads, or "bead probes," directly onto printed circuit board (PCB) signal traces. This advancement addresses the pressing need for more test accessibility on printed circuit boards at in-circuit test (ICT), especially for dense or high-speed PCB designs. As PCBs get increasingly smaller, the ability to provide test points for in-circuit test becomes more difficult. In addition, designs with high-speed buses also limit where test targets can be placed on board layouts. Workarounds for these test challenges can be time-consuming and costly. Manufacturers who own Agilent ICT systems can obtain right-to-use licenses at no charge directly from Agilent. A copy of "Bead Probe Handbook: Successfully Implementing Agilent Medalist Bead Probes in Practice" is included with each license. This comprehensive how-to guide developed by Agilent details the procedures for the successful implementation of bead probes on today's PCBs. It includes valuable information for the entire value-added chain from board design to layout, process and test. To encourage wider adoption of this cutting-edge methodology among manufacturers worldwide, and to extend the capabilities of ICT beyond traditional use models, Agilent will license its bead probe technology to other ICT test equipment vendors. Manufacturers who use non-Agilent ICT products may obtain Agilent Medalist Bead Probe Technology right-to-use licenses directly from Agilent, allowing them to use it on Agilent-licensed ICT systems. "Our Medalist Bead Probe Technology provides superior test access by allowing PCB manufacturers to place bead probes directly on PCB signal traces after completing the circuit layout, providing test points virtually anywhere on a board," says Kenneth Parker, senior scientist for ICT at Agilent. Agilent Medalist Bead Probe Technology provides the following benefits: Provides excellent test access on dense or high-speed boards where ICT may not have been previously feasible; Adds test access to high-speed PCBs with no degradation to circuit performance; Eliminates the need for costly and time-consuming re-routing of signal paths during layout to accommodate traditional test pads; Simplifies and reduces the cost of ICT test fixtures; and Can be implemented using current SMT board manufacturing processes with no additional costs or process steps. "We are committed to helping the industry solve challenging test problems by expanding our horizon and looking beyond the tester," said Amir Aghdaei, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Measurement Systems Division. "Manufacturers can count on Agilent to be their technology partner by providing leadership in test technologies." Agilent has 15 patents pending for the design, manufacturability and reliable measurement of signals from beads of solder on signal traces when probed during ICT. In-circuit test systems in the Agilent Medalist family, such as the Agilent Medalist 3070 and Medalist i5000, are uniquely positioned to maximize the value of bead probes to manufacturers. Agilent's automated fixturing software can optimize the selection of test probe locations from multiple bead placements, which lowers fixture costs and minimizes potentially damaging board flex during ICT. U.S. Pricing and Availability The Agilent Medalist Bead Probe Technology license and Bead Probe Handbook will be available Nov. 1, 2006. Visit www.agilent.com/see/beadprobe for more information about the use of this technology.