Improving Test and Inspection


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Our survey last month on the challenges manufacturers face regarding tighter tolerances, finer lines and features in assemblies provided us two key issues: solder paste printing challenges, which we covered in-depth in the June edition of SMT Magazine, and PCBA testing and inspection, the topic for this month’s issue.

It is interesting to note that in our recent survey on PCBA test and inspection challenges, most respondents consider these same subjects to be among their main problems. Some of those problems include: probing to narrower traces and pads; testing boards with smaller and finer features and sizes; dry solder; and other solder-related issues that cannot be easily detected during PCBA testing. Other challenges include finding sublayer defects; dealing with flat, no-lead components; and testing cycle time, as more manufacturers grapple with high-mix, low-volume production issues.

On top of dealing with increasingly complex and higher-density boards, assemblers are also facing tougher requirements such as data traceability, changes in IC packaging structure, embedded substrates and modules, and thermal conductivity, according to our survey.

Innovation Wish List

To help address their challenges, respondents are looking for innovations such as better boundary scan capability and better test equipment that find latent defects in electrical testing. From an optical test/inspection, they said innovations such as better lighting and focal plane depth are key. They are also looking for CAD/CAM systems that could suggest the best test implementation, as well as software to economically automate functional test of low-volume production runs.

Meanwhile, the majority of our respondents say they are planning to purchase new test and inspection equipment this year. Assemblers are looking to acquire equipment such as ICT for high-power device testing, benchtop instruments, SPI, 3D AOI and AXI systems, and RF test systems for their test and inspection process. This month, we look into different PCBA test and inspection strategies that address some of the key challenges in today’s electronics manufacturing and assembly environment.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of SMT Magazine.

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