Building A Better, Brighter LED Headlamp with Top-Side Alignment Process (TAP)

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An emerging trend in the automotive industry is the adoption of advanced LED headlamp lighting systems. These systems drive challenging placement requirements for LED packages. In this paper, we will review these unique challenges and discuss a novel approach to high-accuracy placement of LED packages enabling a scalable production solution.  


LED lighting technology for automotive headlamp applications provides improved safety and lighting intelligence. LED automotive headlamps are becoming the standard for even the most affordable automobiles and the automotive LED market is expected to reach $3B by 2022.


LED automotive headlamps and emerging applications like LIDAR are complex, requiring ultra-precise assembly to achieve extreme performance standards. High-accuracy placement and exact LED alignment are essential in building brighter and more adaptive (color, direction, intensity) LED automotive headlamps.

Some of the manufacturing challenges of rapidly and accurately placing LEDs include:  

  • Requirements for accurate top-side vision correction
  • Need for high throughput at 10–25µm accuracy
  • Non-standard fiducials
  • Need for material, process, and application know-how

The most effective way to achieve this is to utilize a top-side alignment (TAP) process for placement of LEDs.

Top-Side Alignment 

Top-side alignment process (TAP) ensures an accurate, repeatable, high-speed and economical production solution for the placement of LEDs. The TAP process precisely places and aligns LEDs based on top-side features. A top-side inspection of LED (light-emitting diode) features is performed on a back-lit vacuum nest, followed by a bottom-side inspection of critical features. TAP eliminates the inaccuracies of alternative solutions caused by part movement during a post-inspection (top side only) pick process.

To read this entire paper, which appeared in the January 2021 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.


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