Cloning printed circuit boards

Paul Boughton

Printed circuit board cloning is a cost-effective alternative to board re-design successfully extending the life span of systems and devices when parts become obsolete.

Initially, the PCB is mapped using a Flying Probe PCB Tester. The board mapping is than used as a basis of a computer model which is further refined by experienced engineers. Following review the board is manufacture and the computer model created earlier is used to validate that the PCB functionally is exactly the same as the original.

For complex multi layer boards the original mapping is more advanced and can include X-ray and potentially a dissection of the PCB.

Depending on complexity boards the whole cloning process takes 1-2 months.

SPHEREA Test & Services, through its specialist subsidiary GET, has cloned printed circuit boards from simple control units to complex computers and from standard industrial applications to safety-critical military, aviation, nuclear power and transport systems.

The techniques used acan clone or redesign boards with up eight layers and even entire systems. The service is scalable so can even be applied in low volume. Since the company’s roots are in mission-critical environments, clients can be assured of proven and guaranteed results, always an area of concern for those looking for this service.

Penri Jones, Managing Director of SPHEREA Test & Services in the UK said: “The issues of obsolescence are not going away any time soon.  Our 10 years of experience in helping customers manage these issues confirms PCB cloning as a cost-effective and reliable alternative to board re-design. For some sectors board re-design isn’t even an option and without the cloning capability entire systems would need to be replaced; requiring massive investment.”