Peering into X-ray inspection

Testing is becoming more difficult as densities rise and more of the solder connections are hidden from view. X-ray inspection is one of the techniques that pays big dividends, but getting the best results takes a fair amount of planning.

X-ray inspection is seeing more usage, providing complementary benefits when it’s used with a range of other testing techniques. For the best results, it needs to be integrated according to an overall strategy for inspection, according to Bob Klenke, principal consultant for ITM Consulting Inc.

In a recent presentation, he highlighted some of the key factors that must be examined when this strategy is being established. One of the first steps is to determine the traits of equipment that will be used. Understanding X-ray system specifications is one of the first steps.

Some companies provide system magnification, which is the ratio between the actual device and the image on the operator’s screen. That’s not a good spec, since the larger the display is, the more impressive the ratio, Klenke said during a recent IPC Webinar.

A better comparison between systems is to compare geometric magnification levels. This measures the direct comparison between the actual size of the device and the image on the screen. “System magnification can be misleading, I much prefer geometric magnification,” said Klenke, who has focused on assembly problems and optimizing facility operations for more than two decades.

Grayscale levels are another critical parameter. Klenke prefers at least 16-bit systems that provide 56,000 gray scale levels, making it easier for operators to spot errors. Planners also have to determine whether they want to test every part or whether they only want to check occasionally to ensure that processes are working well.

Those are just a few of the points addressed as the 60-minute Webinar flew by. These IPC Webinars take only a little bit of time, but there’s a lot of information crammed into these short hours. Here’s the schedule for upcoming Webinars.

For information on the Klenke webinar, contact


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