OMRON Corporation (TOKYO:6645)(ADR:OMRNY) today announced that the company has developed an ultra-compact probe pin electroformed through an electroplating process, and commenced its mass production. A probe pin is a contact pin used for inspection of electronic components. The employment of electroforming technology has led to superior characteristics, which are difficult to achieve with the currently available cutting process. Specifically, OMRON’s new probe pin enables a very fine pitch, versatile contact shapes, and a multiple contact point configuration, while being capable of handling a high current load.
In recent years, packaging density has been increasing for SMT ICs, LCDs, fine-pitch glass substrates, and other electronic components. This has allowed such components to incorporate more and more sophisticated functions in electronic equipment. At the same time, these electronic components have a very large number of pins and electrode pads, and they are laid out very close to each other on a PCB. Inspection of electronic components uses a probe pin. Such high-density devices require inspection of many areas, so multiple probe pins must be placed with a very small spacing between each.
A probe pin typically has a cylindrical shape and consists of multiple parts, namely plungers (contacts), a coil spring, and a barrel to house them. Due to this configuration, the conventional probe pin has several drawbacks, which make it difficult to meet a customer’s requirements for fine-pitch, multi-point inspection.
These drawbacks include:
Limitations as to how far a probe pin’s diameter can be reduced using the conventional cutting process, which makes it difficult to support finer pitches.
Because the probe pin consists of multiple parts, the conduction path becomes complex, thus making contact resistance unstable.
Making the spring’s coil diameter smaller increases conductor resistance, causing heat generation and the spring’s disconnection.
OMRON overcame these problems by creating a new structure using the company’s proprietary electroforming technology. The result is an electroformed probe pin that has a structure entirely different from that of a conventional probe pin.