The ICT fixture is the hardware interface between the test system and the board. The interface to the board is usually realized by probes (pins / nails). These are connected to wires that connect to the test system. The probes need to be positioned very precisely on the board and are usually held in place by a base-board.
Each probe, usually a spring-probe, needs a certain force for a reliable connection. Therefore the overall force that is needed for the fixture connection can become very high. This requires a robust fixture construction based on an initial stress analysis. The PCB and the assembled components must not be damaged or cracked during the test.
ICT Fixture Manufacturers
We provide a very brief overview of the biggest three test fixture suppliers in Europe. All of them are located in Germany. We will expand this list in the future.
ATX Hardware GmbH
Founded in 1997 ATX operates from two locations in Germany with 150 employees. It is among the market leaders for ICT fixtures in Europe. ATX is owned by a family office.
Ingun Prüfmittelbau GmbH
Founded in 1971 Ingun is the only company in our list that manufactures the probes in-house. Ingun is certified according to ISO 9001 and has its headquarter and production in Friedrichshafen, Germany. It operates around the globe and it is owned by the founding family.
GPS Prüftechnik GmbH
GPS was founded in 1977 and operates from various offices in Germany, and internationally through partner offices.
Fixture actuation types
The mechanical fixture works with manual force for opening and closing. A manual lever is used to push the board to the test probes.
A vacuum fixture uses vacuum to pull down the board on the test probes. The advantage is the even distribution of forces as the vacuum exists over the full area of the board.
Compressed air can be used to push down the board on the probes, especially when high actuation forces are needed. This requires a compressor in the production area.
When compressed air is lacking, an electromechanical fixture can be used to achieve high forces.