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3 Ways Modern Power Supplies Reduce Test Costs

May 24, 2017

Test costs can add considerably to overall manufacturing costs, especially when extensive testing is required. That's why it's important to keep test costs to a minimum. Reduced test costs translate to lower manufacturing costs. Modern power supplies, such as California Instruments' Asterion AC Series, have several features that can help you reduce test costs:

Faster command processing times

Because modern power supplies use more sophisticated processors, they can process commands faster than earlier generations of power supplies. Reducing command processing times means reduced test times, and that helps lower test costs.

Command processing times are not often specified for power supplies, but there is a test that you can perform to compare the command processing times of different power supplies. What you do is program a power supply to go from 0 V to some particular value and measure the time from the point at which you send the command to the time the power supply voltage reaches the target value.

While this test is not measuring just the command processing time, it will allow you to compare the performance of several different power supplies. Perform a similar test for other commands and you can get a better feel for how the power supply will perform in your application.

Built-in measurement capabilities

Built-in measurement capabilities can also help you shave test times. Communicating with a single instrument, such as a power supply with measurement capabilities, instead of multiple instruments, such as a power supply and system DMM, can save overall test time. An added benefit of using a power source with measurement capability is that the test system design is simpler, and because you're using fewer instruments and less cabling, the test system should be more reliable, too.

Advanced software commands

Many tests require a power supply to step through a series of different outputs during the test. While it is possible to program each of these steps individually from the control computer, a much more efficient and time-saving way is by using what's commonly called the list function.

Too see how this works, refer to Figure 1. It shows a typical series of output voltages that you might generate using the list function. It includes three different AC voltage steps: 160 volts for 33 milliseconds, 120 volts for 83 ms, and 80 volts for 150 ms, separated by three intervals of zero volts for 67 ms. The list specifies the pulses as three voltage points (point 0, 2, and 4), each with its corresponding dwell points.

The intervals are three zero-voltage points (point 1, 3, and 5) of equal time duration. In addition to the different output voltages, you can also set a count parameter, which specifies how many times the power supply will output the sequence.

Figure 1.

The point here is that you set up this sequence with a single command instead of a series of commands, and by doing so, you save test time.

These are just three ways that modern power supplies help you reduce test costs. For more information on how AMETEK Programmable Power supplies help you reduce test, contact AMETEK Programmable Power. You can send an e-mail to sales.ppd@ametek.com or phone 800-733-5427.