Digital X-Ray—For More Than Inspection


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Of the many exhibitors at the recent SMTA Ohio Expo, one that really piqued my curiosity was YXLON. I was able to meet with Sheri Martin, sales manager at YXLON, who told me about their digital X-ray system and also helped me correctly pronounce the company name (“ex-lon”), the “Y” is silent.

Patty Goldman: Sheri, you're here at SMTA Ohio with YXLON as an exhibitor. How has the show been today?

Sheri Martin: It hasn't been real busy, but I have had the opportunity to engage with some of my existing customers, which is always good. If you can make one trip, stand in one location and have good conversation with a lot of people that own your products or are receiving your products, that is good.

Goldman: That's handy—you’re absolutely right. Tell me about your products.

Martin: YXLON FeinFocus manufactures digital X-ray systems. They are designed for imaging bottom-terminated components for inspection of solder paste for surface-mount technology electronic assemblies. You can use the tools for failure analysis. You can use them for 100% quality control. You can also use the X-ray tool for process development. At the end of the day, it's all high magnification, superior contrast sensitivity creating and great image quality.

Goldman: It can look underneath the components and you can see defects in the solder?

Martin: Yes, it looks straight through them, that is exactly what it does.  Because the solder is underneath the device, you can't optically inspect it. But with X-ray you can view all the different materials. Using image processessing, you can measure the voids and make sure you have good solder across the entire termination.

Goldman: It's all about wetting and getting rid of defects, or minimizing them. I guess if you could inspect for it, then you can start testing to improve the process?

Martin: Correct. A lot of people do use the tools for process development.

Goldman: Yes, process development and process control. Tell me more about your products; this is a new area for me.

Martin: Currently we have a large product range. We have the Y.Cougar and the Y.Cheetah that are designed for at line X-ray inspection. Then we also have our new FF20 CT and FF35 CT models that are designed strictly for failure analysis. The FF Series are computer-aided tomography 3D X-ray inspection systems. You have resolution to one-micron voxel minimal detectable defect. With the Y.Cougar and the Y.Cheetah you have high magnification 2D X-ray, with the ability to upgrade or purchase CT up front. One of the nice things about all of our systems is they're modular, you can start with a base system and upgrade as needed.

Goldman: You can build onto it?

Martin: Right, and add the capabilities that you need, as your requirements change. 

Goldman: These parts get CAT scanned, huh?

Martin: Yes, they do. It is amazing how these tools become more powerful every day.

Goldman: Who knew?

Martin: Computer Aided Tomography gives the user the ability to eliminate material by mass, as well as perform virtual cross section on any axis. 

Goldman: How many of these one-day expos do you go to in a year? Do you do a lot of these?

Martin: Probably a dozen a year, all over the country.

Goldman: How nice. I suppose each time you go you get to meet with people that are right there in that area. I think that's kind of neat. Is your company a member of SMTA?

Martin: I think I’ve been a member of SMTA since 1986. It is nice, that's the value of SMTA.

Goldman: Do you participate beyond the expos at SMTA?

Martin: Yes. We participate annually in SEMICON West, APEX and also SMTA International, which will be in Chicago the end of September. We usually have systems on the show floor at these larger shows.  YXLON also manufactures industrial X-ray solutions for other industries, like aerospace, automotive, cast, foundry, and more. We do many other shows that are not related to the electronics industry.  YXLON also participates in IMAPS and EDFAS, and other SMTA shows.

Goldman: What is EDFAS?

Martin: Electronic Device Failure Analysis Society. They are chartered to serve the specific needs of the electronics community. Then IMAPS (International Micro Electronics Packaging Society) encompasses the component level original device manufacturers. YXLON covers a lot of bases with these shows. Doing shows throughout the US, Canada and Mexico is a great way for us to connect with the local customers.

Goldman: Is there anything in particular you'd like to talk about having to do with failure analysis or similar?

Y_Cheetah.jpgMartin: The nice thing about X-ray is it's a non-destructive test method. It's extremely high speed. You can decide how far you want to take it. You can decide if you want to just use it for failure analysis and field returns. You can decide if you want 100% quality control. The systems are Windows-driven, the software is easy to setup; it is a simple graphic user interface. Anybody can use it—one click to first image. Automatic inspection reports are generated by the tool. The system provides 16 bit real time digital imaging. The refresh rate of the detector is 60 frames per second. It's just like live TV. And when you're driving the X-ray tool around looking at your sample everything stays clear.

Goldman: That would be nice. I want a demo at SMTA International coming up in late September.

Martin: Absolutely, come by our booth #527. We'll have our Y.Cheetah there and we will be showing full computer-aided tomography capability on the trade show floor. If you have a sample, you can bring it in and we can image it in 2D or CT. At YXLON, one of our core competencies is quick scan CT, with the 60 frame per second refresh rate on the detector and high power tube and target technology that eliminates noise. We're able to capture 1080 images in 18 seconds enabling us to do CT live on the show floor because we're not tying up the machine for an extended period of time for one customer.

Goldman: That's pretty fast. The best thing of course is the fact that it's non-destructive. That has got to be the most important feature.

Martin: It really is. It is a quick, easy way to determine what your problems are.

Goldman: And that way you can do a 100% inspect and still have a good product, like you said. You don't have to spot inspect and throw it out. There's no cross-sectioning to be done. I'm very impressed with that.

Martin: It's excellent for rework. The computer generates the inspection report automatically, and then you can use the inspection report to determine the exact location of the failure. A good, informative white paper on X-ray inspection can be found on our blog.

Goldman: That's pretty sophisticated. Sheri, thanks so much for your time with me. I really appreciate it.

Martin: Thank you.

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