NEPCON 2019
Inspection Machines Reach New Heights to Meet Demands
Tokyo Weld has started introducing cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to its wide range of inspection machine portfolio to meet evolving demands across industries toward higher quality and highly reliable electronic components.
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imilar to the market trend in 2017, electronic components inspection made significant gains in 2018 because of the growing demand to scale down to suit mobile applications and to meet the reliability and quality requirements of the automotive industry. Industry players see this trend in parts inspection industry to continue further in 2019.

Given a boost by internet of things (IoT), miniaturized electronic components will continue to accelerate in the field of information technology (IT) and networking equipment markets. It is highly possible wireless connection will further spread, replacing the wired ones, and high-density mounting in TV equipment will further accelerate following the onset of 8K TV broadcasting in December 2018.

Demand for 0201-size components, which are even smaller than 0402 sizes, is increasing. This applies not only to capacitors, but also to inductors, resistors, among others. Anticipating this trend, Tokyo Weld Co., Ltd. has been developing since 2014 appearance inspection machines, measuring and sorting machines, and measuring and taping machines that are compatible with extremely scaled down component sizes.

Photo 1: New six-sided visual inspection system
Photo 1: New six-sided visual inspection system
Photo 2: Interior of the new visual  inspection system
Photo 2: Interior of the new visual
inspection system
Last year, Tokyo Weld’s efforts have been focused on further enhancing the performance and portfolio of its models compatible with such extremely small components. This year, the company will accelerate this process.

Taps AI, Simplifies Inspection
Automotive applications have been requiring high quality and highly reliable electronic components more than ever. This market has focused not just on the electrical characteristics inspection but also on appearance inspection. This reflects the idea that high-reliability and highly quality components should be good in appearance in the first place.

Tokyo Weld has been responding to this trend by focusing resources on image inspection business and by expanding the business year after year. The company’s business results for 2017 and 2018 showed image inspection business grew to become the third pillar after the measuring and taping machine business.

For many years, the company has put efforts in research and development on visual inspection based on artificial intelligence (AI) and they would start marketing them in 2019. The company plans to propose it as a means to simplify all the complex settings of algorithms and thresholds for appearance inspection and to dramatically reduce the rate of products that are considered defective but are actually non-defective, which has been a long-term issue with appearance inspection.

In order to respond to such circumstances surrounding electronic components, Tokyo Weld aims to step up further its image inspection technology, measuring technology, and packaging technology. This aim to ensure the high-speed conveyance as well as the high quality and reliability of extremely small components in its main products, more specifically electrode coating machines, appearance inspection machines, measuring and sorting machines, and taping machines. This will be the company’s core strategy for 2019, which would also be used to enhance basic technology development that serves as the business foundation to expand products supported by the basic technological capabilities.

New Technology to Meet Needs
Tokyo Weld offers a range of taping machines, measuring and inspection machines, visual inspection machines, and electrode coating machines for electronic components. In the market for electronic components, there has been an acceleration in the extreme miniaturization of components as have been witnessed in smartphone applications, and the need to improve reliability and quality to meet the demands of automotive applications.

The company is responding to these market needs by proactively making its measuring and inspection/taping machines compatible with 0201-size components.

Furthermore, to meet increasing demand for improved specifications in the automotive applications, Tokyo Weld has enhanced its visual inspection machines. At present, these machines have already achieved a high speed of 12,000 units per minute for 0603-size capacitors and can now handle extremely small chips, such as capacitors, resistors, coils, filters, transistors, and diodes.

In addition to this, for automotive applications, it has developed new conveyance platform machines for odd-shaped components, such as battery connectors for smartphones as well as conventional standard products.

The machines for odd-shaped components can inspect the appearance of components of various sizes or shapes, such as battery connectors for smartphones. Tokyo Weld is also working on appearance inspection of material components such as ferrite cores, ceramic discrete parts, among others.

For the inspection algorithms of its visual inspection machines, the company offers original software dedicated for electronic components, which it devised through the development of its taping machines, and also offers inspection systems built based on the industry-leading and most advanced HALCON image processing software library. This is how it has increased processing speeds and has expanded the range of inspection, providing solutions for high-speed, large-capacity inspection processing.

To improve its business in visual inspection machines, it plans to start selling these machines integrated with AI. These machines offer inspection based on deep learning, which has been drawing attention in recent years. AI will learn on defective and non-defective products in advance and will be able to learn to make decisions on the basis of the acquired knowledge. This will simplify all existing means for creating complex algorithms and setting thresholds.

With the planned market introduction of machines that integrate AI this year, Tokyo Weld will also make improvements to measuring technology for its measuring and inspection/taping machines. These include measurement at multiple temperature points or in applied magnetic fields and measurement of devices associated with motion by means of various motion sensors.

Tokyo Weld has all kinds of inspection needs related to electronic components, and introduces the latest technology to tackle challenges that come. This will be the company’s main tact to sustain strategic growth.

About this Article
The author is Koji Takahashi, Managing Director and Chief Technology Officer, Tokyo Weld Co., Ltd.