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10th April 2024

Testing when manufacturing - Test Jigs

Last time on our series of ‘things to consider during the product development process’, we took a deep dive into scaling up for manufacturing and assessed some of the ‘does’ and some of the absolute ‘do nots’.

One topic we saved for an article all of its own, was testing. Do you want to know how (and why) to choose the best testing device for you?

Then read on reader…


Why test?

Regardless of the quality of the design work, any electronic product once in a physical form can have bugs and develop performance issues. Therefore, it’s important that you test your PCB design(s) thoroughly throughout the various stages of development process, to ensure smooth sailing when manufacturing.

How can you tell that scaling up hasn’t resulted in inaccuracies and there are no open or bad joints? Or that components are operating as designed and are working within expected tolerance? You usually can’t by eye.

When just a single component out of place can cause the design to fail – how, when the assembly is complete, do you test your product when the manufacturing process begins?


What is a test jig?

A test jig (or test fixture) is a secure enclosure, containing a specifically designed ‘bed of nails’ that is used for testing your PCB or assembled product.

Closing the jig’s lid holds down the PCB firmly into place. This activates the bed of nails, pressing it against the PCB’s test points. If all points connect and the correct signals are received, you can rest assured that the board is working as designed.

This allows for swift connecting and disconnecting, which in turn, significantly reduces test time.



Choosing the best jig for you

Here are a few things to consider when selecting your jig…


  • There is no point testing your PCBs if you are going to end up frying them with your testing equipment. Look for test fixtures which work in an ESD safe environment. A non-static environment allows PCBs to be tested more safely.
  • The test jig should use an even spread whilst in action. This prevents the PCB from breaking when testing begins.
  • Does it need extra power? If so, ensure fixtures are designed to be safe for high power PCBs and to not interfere in a negative way. This will allow for high voltage testing. MG test jigs (which are our jigs of choice) can also lock the lid as an additional safety feature.
  • In addition, for extra features, you can look for a test jig that not only tests through pins in the top and bottom but also uses side movers which allows you to close the lid and automatically insert connectors.


If you have been working with or have a specific CEM (contract electronics manufacturer) they should be able to offer a test solution that will best suit your manufacturing process. This obviously has its advantages and should be considered when working closely with such a supplier.

That said you should keep in mind that once you go down this route you could find it difficult to take your test solution to another manufacturer (should you choose to change for whatever reason).

There is a strong argument to be had for investing in a robust, reliable and independent test solution that can be used along any production line. By investing in your own test fixture you are gifting yourself a level of flexibility and degree of security.

If you’d like to discuss your test jig options, we’d be more than happy to answer any questions you have – simply click this link.



To wrap up

The cost of a test jig will depend entirely on your requirements, but keep in mind any preconceived costs or setup inconvenience involved with getting a PCB jig customised, assembled and then ran… They will be much less than the potential risks of a product recall.

Remember – the quality of your end product will define how customers perceive your brand, because they don’t see the time, effort and investment that goes into developing a product like yours.

Their view of you will come down to one thing. Does your product reliably and accurately do what it promises to?



A note from our Head Honcho

“One final thing to consider in regards to test – please make sure you allow time for provisioning. Provision testing creates and configures the resources needed for any servers, databases, networks or software your product may need to speak to. You don’t want to release your baby into the world and not have it be able to activate any IoT connectivity (for example). Provisioning is an essential part of making sure your product does what it should!”
Neil Carter