Forensics Uncovers Elusive Defects & Saves PCB Designs


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Can something as tiny as a microCSP-packaged device, as shown in Figure 1, be the cause of a PCB design defect or its complete failure? As you can see, this tiny package is as small, or even a bit smaller than the letter “L” in the word “Liberty” that is printed on the dime.

Figure 1: MicroCSP compared to SOT 23 package on a U.S. dime.

That’s only part of the story. The other part is you and your CM or EMS provider have no clue that’s where the defect lies, and worse, even if you guessed that the micro-CSP-packaged device posed the problem, you couldn’t find it because it is so elusive and so extraordinarily small.

Today, OEMs are increasingly moving toward smaller, more portable products and systems. Most of those used to be larger, desktop models a few years ago. However, with recent advances in electronics technologies, various markets are demanding smaller products and systems with the same or greater functionality than their larger ancestors.

As a result, semiconductor and electronics suppliers are constantly shrinking their products and adding more functionality to comply with market demands. For CMs and EMS providers, it means moving toward smaller form-factor boards populated with such advanced, but smaller component and device packaging as micro-BGAs, micro-CSPs, package-on-package (PoP), 01005s, and others.

Finding the Defect and Saving the Design

Conventional inspection methodologies on the assembly floor include using advanced X-ray and automatic optical inspection or AOI and continue to be at the forefront for most PCB designs.

Yet, because these advanced inspection and analysis systems aren’t able to deliver, a newer form of inspection is making its presence known in our industry. We call the new form forensic analysis. Read the full article here.Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of SMT Magazine.

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