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Defense HALT Success Story

ESPEC’s Solutions Group (also known as “SG”, and formerly Qualmark Professional Services) has across-the-board experience in assisting the military and its defense contractors in enhancing the reliability and robustness of battlefield ready equipment whether the equipment is intended for battlefield deployment or elsewhere. Manufacturers seeking to develop affordable defense platforms and weapons systems while meeting the demand for reliability and extended product life expectancy have found ESPEC’s SG solutions to be a key component in meeting critical objectives.

SUCCESS PROFILE: Defense Electronics (Bare PCB)

This tiny, 16-layer board with very complex circuitry was destined for a highly sophisticated, multi-performance device. Since the production volume was low, development and manufacturing costs for the specific-use design rendered a high final cost. Even though the board passed all required military testing prior to release, it suffered from an unacceptably high failure rate in its end use environment. The manufacturer needed a quick resolution, not only to stem rising costs from a failing product, but to also avoid placing future DoD contracts into jeopardy. Reluctant to repeat the expensive and ineffective validation testing, the manufacturer contacted ESPEC for solutions.

With some certainty, failures had been linked to the unit’s “buried” vias. Viewed by the manufacturer as a production issue, the request was for SG development of a manufacturing screen so that bad units could be pulled before delivery. In this way, the manufacturer calculated, known good product could continue to be shipped while the pulled units could be reworked.

RESULTS: The ESPEC Solutions Group developed a custom Highly Accelerated Stress Screen (HASS) and within 2 days of testing was able to isolate the vias issue. The failure modes would not have been revealed with single axis stress testing, but required combined random-axis vibration and thermal stresses to precipitate.

Additionally, ESPEC’s SG discovered a wide distribution on the failures, indicating that there was an inherent design issue that could not be screened out. This data, coupled with analysis from the field failures, allowed the manufacturer to configure a more rugged layout for the vias. The Solutions Group testing confirmed the extended robustness of the reconfigured boards.

The Solutions Group was not only able to very quickly pinpoint the customer’s failure issue, stemming the costly effort of test, repair/rework, but also provided crucial data for ruggedizing the board’s design which enabled the manufacturer to recapture their good standing as a contractor for the military.

The Return on Investment (ROI) from ESPEC’s SG solutions is proving to be quite substantial.