The fast pace of new technology can mean that companies are pushing the boundaries with products faster than the manufacturers of test equipment can keep up. As one of the leading test facilities in Europe, Presto Engineering has encountered this problem many times and has devised many ways to solve it.
Martin Kingdon, Presto's VP of Sales, explained, "Customers often come to us to solve their testing challenges. Frequently, the issue is that they are pushing the boundary of technology. This means that the manufacturers of test equipment have not created testers yet or, if they have, the testers are very expensive and specialised, as the need has not reached mainstream demand."
In most cases, Presto creates a hardware solution that is built into the load board so that a standard tester could be used rather than having to buy and charge the customer for a highly specialised tester. Test costs are based on the time that a tester is used so that the small additional costs of components on a load board is significantly more cost effective than moving to a higher feature or specialised tester.
An example of adapting standard test equipment to outperform is for ultra-low current testing. By adding a current amplifier onto the load board, a standard tester can now be used to measure currents as low as one nanoAmp.
Similarly, a customer needed 6.5 GHz testing but standard testers only handle up to 6 GHz. A tester that could handle up to 12 GHz is much more expensive. Instead of incurring this cost for the customer, Presto devised a frequency translator that was integrated onto the load board so that a standard 6 GHz tester could now be used beyond its normal range. This provided lower cost solution to save the customer money.
Sometimes, devising a solution can mean turning a problem on its head. Presto Engineering faced a challenge when asked to test the performance of a photodiode that was integrated into a chip. Each photodiode on the wafer needed to be tested for its response to light input. The normal wafer stepper motors could not provide the level of accuracy needed to position the wafer. So, instead of moving the wafer, Presto created a solution using tiny motors for the fine x and y alignment of the laser beam that was used to stimulate each photodiode.
Martin Kingdon added, "We have a wealth of test experience and a comprehensive range of testers already in house to draw on. This enables us to create solutions that save customers money by adapting and enhancing existing testers to meet the new, more challenging test parameters rather than incurring the cost of highly expensive, specialized test equipment. Once developed, we can transfer and integrate these new test solutions into our high-volume production facilities in Asia."