Do you require electrical contact functionality in your 3D printed test fixtures and parts? Consider using Pogo pins!
Pogo pins are spring loaded probes that can be pressed into a hole to connect two PCB boards together or to allow electrical connection to any component with a copper pad.
There are many different types of Pogo pins to allow for different connection strategies, as well as different signal types and amperages/voltages. Typically, there is a spring-loaded test probe that fits into a receptacle. The receptacle gets pressed into a hole in the test fixture to retain and hold the probe in place (see figure 1 below). This makes it ideal for use in FDM and PolyJet 3D printed parts and test fixtures. Check out the following link to see all the types of Pogo pins available: http://www.qatech.com/products/index.htm
You may have noticed that there are many different types and configurations, navigate to the following link and go through the SELECTION items to understand what to consider when choosing a Pogo pin: http://www.qatech.com/tech/index.htm
Figure 2 below shows an example using Pogo pins in a machined LEXAN test fixture that could have just as easily been 3D printed. In this case the fixture is used to connect two PCB boards together for testing.
In the following example, a designer is designing and building a small 3D printed test fixture to test miniature gas sensors that have copper pads. Pogo pins are used to make a robust repeatable connection.
The previous two examples show how 3D printing can be used for both a manufacturing test application (see figure 2) and for an R&D development test fixture (Steps 1-5).
In the case of the manufacturing test fixture, the fixture shown was machined out of LEXAN but could have easily been 3D printed with FDM or PolyJet materials, resulting in a less expensive and quicker to produce fixture.
In the case of the R&D gas sensor test fixture, the ability to quickly and easily produce a test fixture allowed the firmware developers to create firmware for the gas detector well in advance compared to previous projects that used conventional prototyping methods. This is huge for firmware developers, as quite often the firmware development lags the mechanical design because the developers have nothing to work on until tooling. Also, as the design changes, 3D printing allows the mechanical designers to send updated fixtures to the firmware developers, allowing for better response to changes in the design. The overall result is a much quicker, smoother and more robust firmware and mechanical design process.
As you can see, the possibilities for adding electrical contact functionality to your 3D printed parts and test fixtures is endless. We highly suggest that you consider using Pogo pins for your next project!
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