PCB Inspection Equipment Makers Expand 3D Lineup

In an effort to attract new customers and pump up their businesses, printed circuit boards (PCB) inspection equipment manufacturers have been adopting diverse strategies. These include market introduction of new three-dimensional (3D) inspection systems, improvement of functions and cultivation of new application fields. On the back of this endeavor is the expansion of demand for PCB inspection systems resulting from the trends toward higher-density printed circuits, zero contact work and automation amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and diversification of market needs.
Conventionally, PCB inspections in the mounting process were mostly conducted through manual visual inspection. However, with the trend toward increasing density of PCBs, including miniaturization and finer wiring of components to be mounted, visual inspection by people has become difficult, and labor costs have also increased, making PCB inspection systems indispensable.

A growing number of companies venture in SPI systems (Rexxam Co., Ltd.’s SPI system at NEPCON Japan held in January).
A growing number of companies venture in SPI systems (Rexxam Co., Ltd.’s SPI system at NEPCON Japan held in January).

3D Inspection Systems

PCB inspection systems include solder paste inspection (SPI) systems for inspecting the printing conditions of solder paste, automated optical inspection (AOI) systems for inspecting components after they are mounted on substrates, and X-ray automated inspection (AXI) systems for inspecting inside of soldering using X-ray. Recently, 3D inspection system, which enables more precise inspections as it includes height inspection, becomes mainstream.
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. has been promoting one-stop smart solution in its mounting business under the full-lineup system. This system enables the construction of a mounting line using Yamaha-brand machines for all main equipment on a mounting line, from mounters, solder paste printers, dispensers, to automated warehouses. As part of the effort, Yamaha Motor has entered 3D high-speed SPI systems in addition to its existing PCB inspection systems, thereby further strengthening one-stop smart solution.
JUKI Corporation has been endeavoring to expand solutions in the non-mounter region, centering on inspection systems and automated warehouses, in its industrial equipment business, which is primarily focused on mounters. The RV-2-3DH 3D AOI system adopts a 12-million-pixel camera. Using the process mode, it can be used for measuring and appearance inspection applications in various plants as well as in manufacturing plants of electronic boards. JUKI proposes the application of the AOI system to other fields, including the inspection of scratches on glass lenses, and has already been producing results.
Rexxam Co., Ltd. has brought to market 3D-1100S AOI system, 300R back-side inspection system, and 300I/300F two-dimensional (2D) inspection systems for M-size PCBs, as the Sherlock Series PCB inspection systems. Rexxam has entered SPI systems as a new field, and announced SP-700 at NEPCON Japan held in January. SP-700 applies the company’s accumulated 3D inspection technology, and supports high solder printing accuracy required amid the miniaturization of mounting components and higher density. In particular, it supports the improvement of components mounting quality through strict inspection of solder amount.
Saki Corporation has been promoting inspection solutions that realize smart factory with PCB inspection systems at the core. As part of the effort, the company has developed the job data convert function, which automatically generates data for PCB inspection from mounter’s data for its 3D-AOI systems. Using the job data covert function, automatic generation of data library for PCB inspection is enabled by directly incorporating components information data that are set on mounters. Thus, it can significantly reduce the time required for the creation of PCB inspection programs. It is compatible with Panasonic Corporation’s mounters. For the future, Saki plans to make it compatible with mounters of other manufacturers as well.
CKD Corporation has released the VP9000 Series 3D SPI system, which features a new front design with gently rounded corners, and has been promoting the machine in the market. Promoting a PCB inspection system touting design as the appealing feature is a unique attempt.