Understanding X-ray

By Tony Musall

X-ray inspection helps manufacturers identify defects hidden within their printed circuit boards and electronic components.





X-rays are a high-energy form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths shorter than those of UV rays (0.01 to 10 nm). These short wavelengths pass through opaque materials like plastic overmolds, epoxy component bodies and potting material — enabling non-destructive analysis of component and assembly architectures in a variety of applications.


Foresite utilizes a Glenbrook Technologies Jewel Box 90-C Real-Time X-Ray Inspection System that is particularly suited for the inspection of electronic assemblies. Its large chamber and multi-axis controls enable our technicians to examine circuit boards over a wide range of magnification and off-axis viewing angles.


Solder Joint Quality

This x-ray system readily detects voiding in surface-mount solder joints, allowing us to calculate the void percentage of virtually any SMT device, including QFN center pads and BGA balls. Using this technology, we can verify barrell fill on PTH joints and evaluate how much solder is being thieved by via-in-pad features.


Failure Analysis

X-ray analysis opens up a variety of non-destructive opportunities for failure analysis. This includes internal inspection of electromechanical devices — for example relays and reed switches — as well as an inspection of electrical components for factors like bond wire sweep and thermal damage.



Relay - internal structure:


x-ray blog - relay internal structure



Broken wire within overmolded, brushless motor:


x-ray blog - broken wire, overmolded brushless motor



In addition to vetting electromechanical devices and components, an x-ray inspection can pinpoint internal PCB fabrication issues. Our x-ray-based tests identify board imperfections in failed hardware, such as over-etch, and reveal factors like internal thermal damage (e.g. balled back copper, vaporized metalization).


Cracked Solder Joints

Cracked solder joints can be difficult to detect visually, but even minuscule cracks are distinguishable using x-ray if the detector is aligned with the anomaly. The multi-axis capabilities of our system enable complete three-dimensional manipulation of the UUT for greater visibility, making it almost impossible for a crack to go unnoticed.


Over the last 25 years, Foresite has provided analysis and consulting services to over 3,000 clients in almost every electronics field. X-ray analysis is a small but integral part of the comprehensive service lineup we offer new and existing clients.





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