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First accredited laboratory to test assembled printed circuit boards to be used in space

ALTER TECHNOLOGY TÜV NORD obtained ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation to perform tests on assembled Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs).

 

These tests aim to guarantee the reliability of both the devices and the board for their use in technology for space, taking into account that they will be exposed to harsh environmental conditions. Hence, the specifications of the accredited tests are far superior to the usual ones to demonstrate their reliability during the lifetime of the space application where they will be installed.

 

 

This ISO/IEC 17025 standard specifically addresses factors relevant to a laboratory’s ability

  1. Technical competency of staff
  2. Validity and appropriateness of measurement methods
  3. Traceability of measurement and calibration to national standards
  4. Appropriate application and measurement uncertainty
  5. Suitability, calibration, and maintenance of test equipment
  6. The testing environment
  7. Sampling, handling, and transportation of test items
  8. Quality assurance of test, inspection, or calibration data  

 

The accredited tests are those necessary for the validation of PCBs, which are defined in a series of ECSS standards (European Cooperation for Space Standardization). These standards are based on mechanical and environmental tests (thermal cycles, vibration and shock tests), external visual inspections and microsections using optical microscopy.

According to Manuel Domínguez, Chief Digital Officer, and Emilia Santiago, Quality Manager at ALTER TECHNOLOGY, “obtaining accreditation according to UNE-EN ISO/IEC 17025 provides a competitive advantage against our counterpart laboratories. This accreditation implies an improvement of our working methods and protocols, and guarantees the accuracy of our results”.

Guarantees of accredited laboratories in the aerospace industry

The accredited laboratories have demonstrated that they count with the necessary human and material resources, and the experience and the ability to provide an adequate service to the needs of their customers through a rigorous, transparent and entirely accepted international evaluation process.

The accreditation process provides the aerospace industry with the reliability and trust necessary to carry out their activities. “In the space industry, component reliability is a key aspect that builds up and affects many of the activities and processes involved in the manufacturing of a satellite. If the activities are performed by a laboratory that is certified under UNE-EN ISO/IEC 17025, a great amount of confidence is transmitted to the customer, higher than the confidence achieved with other certifications”, according to Manuel Domínguez and Emilia Santiago.

Thus, after demonstrating their technical competence, accredited laboratories provide security in providing a reliable service, representing a guarantee for the market, the Administration and society in general.