The overarching goal of PCB testing is to predict their reliability when subjected to the real-world forces of vibration, heat, fluid flow and other physical effects.
In its infancy, testing was physical and manual – quite literally a “real world” immersion. The time, expense and inability to secure sufficient data points made this method impractical for common practice. The U.S. military evolved testing to correct failing airborne electronics and their approach was established as the standard for reliability testing in 1959, despite being no more practical or credible.
Statistical analysis eventually replaced guesswork, and was further refined into Finite Element Analysis (FEA) which stands today as the performance testing standard for measuring PCB displacement/stresses, stresses/strain and stiffness.
While miles ahead of its origins, FEA has limitations.
FEA analyzes modeling originated in Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Electronic Computer-Aided Design (ECAD). As FEA is independent of these design programs, a great deal of time and expertise is required in both pre- and post-processing to ready testing and interpret data, including:
- Conversion of CAD 2D models to Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) 3D models
- Assignment of material properties to elements
- Definition of conditions and test parameters
- Analysis of FEA results
- Conversion of FEA results to reliability predictions
Not surprisingly, report generation under these conditions is time-consuming, tedious and error-prone.
The challenge has been how efficiently facilitate FEA and optimally use its results.
FEA With Sherlock
Sherlock Automated Design Analysis™ software is a tool to augment FEA, not replace it.
Sherlock offers a complete solution for managing FEA testing. It bridges gaps in the pre- and post-FEA methodologies by:
- Automatically importing data from ECAD files, generate 3D models and determine/assign properties to 3D objects
- Simultaneously applying multiple environmental influences to test within specific parameters
- Automatically adjusting for materials, stack-ups and lifecycle events (thermal, shock, vibration)
- Analyzing FEA calculations for reliability predictions for all parts using validated models
- Nearly instantaneously producing custom reports of up to 100+ pages per PCB, with the added capability of exporting data sets and images
FEA with Sherlock is efficient. It minimizes reliance on human intervention, reduces required resources and, ultimately, provides results quicker. Design rework can be accomplished within minutes, not weeks or months.