VJ Electronix: Automating the X-ray Inspection Process


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Brennan Caissie shares the benefits of a new inspection tool that can be used on a variety of boards, with an automated system that takes the pressure off the manufacturing floor operators and can provide feedback all the way to the design process.

Nolan Johnson: Brennan, can you explain what you do as an applications engineer?

Brennan Caissie: Yes. I interact with customers, working with them to find their needs, translate that back to our engineering group and come up with solutions for customer applications. VJ Electronix specializes in X-ray inspection, X-ray counting for components, and rework machines.

Johnson: You have some news coming out of VJE about some new products. Could you fill us in?

Caissie: Sure. We have a new product coming out called the Apogee 90, which is a 90-kiloVolt PCB inspection machine. The Apogee 90 is primarily aimed at customers generating consumer electronics, medical components, products with smaller and lighter boards. This machine is going to have some software capabilities that are new for us. There’s BGA analysis, for example. We also have some automated filters and automated inspection routines. We can tilt the detector in the machine to get angled images. There are quite a few new features we are bringing to this machine.

Johnson: Angled images? In that regard, are you starting to rely on more than just 2D contrast for identification? Are you starting to use a little bit of a 3D angle at this?

Caissie: That’s right. It’s not quite 3D, but more than a top-down 2D image. We can tilt the detector in the machine up to 45 degrees so we can get an angled image so you can see the top and bottom of structures like vias, to see exactly where the solder is placed in three dimensions.

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Johnson: What’s the advantage to these angled images?

Caissie: In boards where you have multiple layers, it is sometimes helpful to look inside through-holes and vias just to see if the solder is completely filling those areas with no voids in the solder.

Johnson: The additional angles certainly help you get a more complete picture of what’s going on there.

Caissie: That’s right. You can also use that feature to look around some tall components that might be blocking your view. You can angle the detector to see around those types of components as well.

Johnson: You have some capabilities within the Apogee to handle some different types of boards. What makes that challenging? Why does that require you to do something different?

Caissie: We have a 90-kiloVolt system, which is good for smaller, thinner boards. When you get into the larger boards with multiple layers, it does get a little more difficult for that X-ray to penetrate all the way through. We have a 130-kiloVolt version coming that will be more appropriate for those types of applications.

Johnson: Because of the board type, you need to optimize. One system is not going to work for every board thickness.

Caissie: That’s right. We typically use the higher power system for applications like server boards and automotive components. Those thicker boards are going to require more power to penetrate through those boards to see all the different layers.

This interview originally appeared in the May issue of SMT007 Magazine. Click here to continue reading.

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