What is a Dummy?

To improve circuit boards, components are placed on a PCB and experimented on until failures emerge. Thereafter the cause of failure is found and knowledge is gained of how to improve the process. The testing can be rather expensive however, and some components are too valuable to be wasted on experiments.

Dummy components are relatively cheap "fake" components used to replace the real ones. The dummies are developed to have the exact same properties in the required areas, while sacrificing unnecessary aspects of the experiment.

Dummies come in all forms and shapes, can be used to replace almost any common component, and are used by world-leading developers of technology - such as NASA, HP, Intel, etc. So the next time you need to develop, experiment on or improve your boards, consider this solution.

Standard dummies are often used for demonstrating SMT mounting machines (a.k.a. pick and place machines). Simple applications such as machine evaluation, maintenance, calibration and acceptance testing require standard dummy packages, without the need for daisy chain or silicon die. Dummy packages such as QFP, TQFP, QFN, SOP, PLCC and area array packages such as BGA and CSP are lifted by vacuum nozzles from trays, reels or tubes and placed onto a platen, often just a double sided printed circuit board.

Particular applications involving life cycle testing require dummies with daisy chain and silicon die. Upgraded dummies with daisy chain are called test die or test components. The daisy chain permits electrical continuity testing. The dummy silicon die simulates the thermal mass of a "real" device during reflow soldering. The daisy chain is made by bonding gold wire (read more about bonding wire in the next news article) between pairs of bonding pads on the lead frame.

Test components contribute to the knowledge base of some of the world's greatest inventions.