Accelerating pressures to reduce product size whilst increasing functionality have resulted in large numbers of small joints: these are frequently inaccessible for visual inspection or repair. This is particularly evident in the electronics industry and typified by such components as Surface Mount Devices (SMDs), Ball Grid Arrays (BGAs) and Flip Chip assembled electronics. Simultaneously demands placed on the products (and therefore their joints) for improved reliability have increased dramatically: the semiconductor industry routinely seeks fault rates below 5ppm.
Small joints, particularly when produced in high volume (eg solder joints on PCBs or wire bonds on integrated circuits), require inspection for both Process Control and Failure Analysis reasons. Conventional inspection techniques (eg visual or destructive) are not appropriate to such a task, however Micro-Focus X-ray is. These systems permit non-destructive examination of joints, which may not be visible optically (ie obscured by subsequent assembly/packaging operations), for both presence and quality.
Micro-Focus X-ray systems are capable of detecting faults (eg cracks, gaps, unwanted filaments etc) in X-ray opaque materials, as small as 5 microns (0.005mm). Image enhancement techniques, made possible by the power of modern PCs, ease the problems of image interpretation common to all radiographic systems. If the component is small, as is frequently the case, it can be manipulated whilst in the X-ray chamber thus permitting real time viewing of the joint/product; this is of considerable benefit in failure analysis situations. If the need is for in-line product inspection, the output from the imaging system can be fed through image analysis software for direct (and real time) comparison to pre-defined Go/No-Go limits, thus enabling automated inspection.
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