Bead probe technology-Bead construction-PCB
Bead probe technology
Bead probes are made from a very small "beads" of solder that fit atop of the PCB traces. They are manufactured using the same techniques as other solder features. Construction requires a hole to be opened in the solder mask, exposing the copper trace. This hole is sized to precisely control the amount of metal that forms the bead. Solder paste is applied to the location and reflowed. During reflow, solder flows and is drawn to the copper trace. Surface tension causes the bead to have a curved surface and rise above the solder mask, where it solidifies into a Bead Probe. The bead will be roughly obround in shape and may be 15-25 mils long. A properly constructed bead is the same width as the trace and just enough to clear the surrounding solder mask. The bead is then accessible for testing using a probe with a flat end, which can help compensate for the tolerance build up in the test fixture and PCB.