News Column

"Systems and Methods for Handling Electrical Components" in Patent Application Approval Process

July 31, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- A patent application by the inventor Garcia, Douglas J. (Beaverton, OR), filed on January 6, 2014, was made available online on July 17, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews correspondents.

This patent application is assigned to Electro Scientific Industries, Inc.

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Many electrical components such as passive or active circuit or electronic devices are tested for electrical and optical properties during manufacturing by automated test systems. Typical automatic sorting apparatuses use precision electrical or optical properties of a device and either accept, reject, or sort it into an output category depending on the measured values. For miniature devices, automatic sorting apparatuses are often designed to handle, bulk loads, where the manufacturing process creates a volume of devices that have substantially identical mechanical characteristics such as size and shape but differ in electrical or optical properties that generally fall within a range and rely on testing to sort the components into sort bins containing other components with similar characteristics.

"Electronic components are handled by a wide variety of different electronic component handlers. These different handlers include but are not limited to products sold by Electro Scientific Industries Inc. of Portland, Oreg., the assignee of the present patent application. Electro Scientific Industries sells a variety of electronic component handlers including, but not limited to, a high volume MLCC tester sold as the model No. 3300, a chip array tester sold as the model No. 3400, a visual test system sold as the model No. 6650, and a chip array terminator sold as the model No. 753. One such electronic component-testing machine is described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,842,579 entitled Electrical Circuit Component Handler."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent application, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "In some embodiments, a test plate is configured for supporting multiple electrical components, wherein each electrical component has a component length dimension, a component width dimension, and a component thickness dimension, wherein each electrical component has a face defined by at least the component length dimension, and wherein the component thickness dimension is shorter than the component length dimension and the component width dimension, wherein the test plate further comprises: a body portion having a first surface and a second surface that is opposite the first surface; and multiple component-seating tracks arranged on the first surface of the body portion, wherein each component-seating track includes multiple component-seating sites, wherein each of the component-seating sites is configured to retain an electrical component such that the face of the electrical component faces away from the first surface.

"In some additional or cumulative embodiments, the test plate has a plate thickness dimension that is longer than the component length dimension.

"In some additional or cumulative embodiments, each component-seating site has a seating surface region against which an electrical component is retainable, wherein the seating surface region is spaced apart from the second surface.

"In some additional or cumulative embodiments, the seating surface region is flush with the first surface.

"In some additional or cumulative embodiments, the seating surface region is recessed with respect to the first surface.

"In some additional or cumulative embodiments, the test plate has a center and a peripheral edge, wherein the test plate comprises protrusions between adjacent component-seating sites, wherein adjacent protrusions have seating walls that face each other on opposite sides of each component-seating site, wherein each protrusion has a loading wall that is closer to the center than to the peripheral edge, wherein each component-seating site is accessible by a radially proximal aperture between adjacent protrusions, and wherein the radially proximal aperture is closer to the center than to the peripheral edge.

"In some additional or cumulative embodiments, each component-seating site is accessible by a radially distal aperture between adjacent protrusions, and wherein the radially distal aperture is closer to the peripheral edge than the center.

"In some additional or cumulative embodiments, the test plate is configured for employment in a component handler, wherein the test plate is configured for supporting multiple electrical components, wherein each electrical component has a length dimension, a width dimension, and a thickness dimension, wherein each electrical component has a face defined by at least the length dimension, wherein the thickness dimension is shorter than the length dimension and the width dimension, wherein the test plate has a body portion having a first surface and a second surface that is opposite the first surface, wherein the first surface has a center, wherein the test plate has a circular component-seating track arranged on the first surface of the body portion, wherein the circular component-seating track is concentric about the center of the first surface, wherein the circular component-seating track includes multiple component-seating sites, each configured to retain an electrical component such that the face of the electrical component faces away from the first surface, wherein the test plate is operable to rotate the component-seating sites along a rotation path about the center of the first surface, and wherein the component handler further comprises: a component receiving system, positioned along the rotation path of the seating track, for receiving a stream of components and seating them in the component-seating sites; a component testing station, positioned downstream of the component receiving system and along the rotation path of the seating track, for electrically contacting each electrical component seated in a component-seating site; a collection bin; and a collection assembly, positioned downstream of the component testing station and along the rotation path of the seating track, for collecting at least some of the electrical components from their respective component-seating sites and directing them into the bin after the electrical components have been tested at component testing station.

"One of many advantages of these embodiments is that they reduce or eliminate friction between the components and various parts of conventional component handlers and the component handlers described herein.

"Additional aspects and advantages will be apparent from the following detailed description of preferred embodiments, which proceeds with reference to the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"FIG. 1 is a perspective view schematically illustrating a portion of a component handler according to one embodiment.

"FIG. 2 is a perspective view schematically illustrating the component handler shown in FIG. 1, in which a test plate is removed from a test plate support.

"FIG. 3 is an enlarged perspective view schematically illustrating a portion of the test plate and load frame within the component-loading region of the component handler shown in FIG. 1, according to one embodiment.

"FIG. 4 is an enlarged perspective view schematically illustrating region 'A' shown in FIG. 3.

"FIG. 4A is an enlarged cross-sectional view of a portion of the load frame.

"FIG. 4B is a more enlarged cross-sectional view of a portion of the load frame, emphasizing the component-loading region.

"FIG. 4C is an even more enlarged cross-sectional view of the component-loading region with the load frame removed.

"FIG. 5 is an enlarged perspective view schematically illustrating a portion of the component-seating tracks shown in FIG. 4, according to one embodiment.

"FIG. 5A is a cross-sectional view schematically illustrating a portion of the test plate shown in FIG. 5, taken along line VA-VA', illustrating a component-retention mechanism according to one embodiment.

"FIG. 5B is a cross-sectional view schematically illustrating a portion of the test plate shown in FIG. 5, taken along line VB-VB or VA-VA', illustrating a component-retention mechanism according to another embodiment.

"FIG. 5C is a cross-sectional view schematically illustrating a portion of the test plate shown in FIG. 5, taken along line VC-VC or VB-VB, illustrating a component-retention mechanism according to yet another embodiment.

"FIG. 6 is an enlarged perspective view schematically illustrating load fences according to one embodiment, and the loading of components at respective component-seating sites defined by the component-seating tracks shown in FIG. 5.

"FIG. 7 is an enlarged perspective view schematically illustrating the load fences shown in FIG. 6, taken from an opposing angle from that shown in FIG. 6.

"FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional view illustrating the load fences shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, and components captured within respective component-seating chambers.

"FIG. 9 is an enlarged perspective view schematically illustrating a portion of component-seating tracks according to another embodiment.

"FIG. 10 is an enlarged perspective view schematically illustrating load fences according to another embodiment, and the loading of components at respective component-seating sites defined by the component-seating tracks shown in FIG. 9.

"FIG. 11 is an enlarged perspective view schematically illustrating a portion of a component-seating track according to yet another embodiment.

"FIG. 12 is an enlarged perspective view schematically illustrating one embodiment of test module assemblies within a portion of the component-testing region of the component handler shown in FIG. 1.

"FIG. 13 is a cross-sectional view schematically illustrating a test module assembly shown in FIG. 12.

"FIG. 14 is an enlarged perspective view schematically illustrating the alignment of test probes of a test module shown in FIG. 13 with electrodes of a component located within the component-testing region.

"FIG. 15 is a perspective view schematically illustrating another embodiment of a test module assembly.

"FIG. 16 is a top plan view schematically illustrating a test module assembly shown in FIG. 15.

"FIG. 17 is an enlarged perspective view schematically illustrating one embodiment of a collection assembly within a portion of the component-ejection region of the component handler shown in FIG. 1.

"FIG. 18 is a cross-sectional view schematically illustrating the collection assembly shown in FIG. 17, as well as a portion of the test plate and test plate support within a portion of the component-ejection region shown in FIG. 1.

"FIGS. 19, 20, and 21 are cross-sectional views schematically illustrating some embodiments of an ejection mechanism for ejecting a component from a component-seating site of the test plate."

URL and more information on this patent application, see: Garcia, Douglas J. Systems and Methods for Handling Electrical Components. Filed January 6, 2014 and posted July 17, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=5308&p=107&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140710.PD.&OS=PD/20140710&RS=PD/20140710

Keywords for this news article include: Electro Scientific Industries, Electro Scientific Industries Inc.

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Source: Politics & Government Week


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