Non-destructive testing method for inspecting the quality of plated parts and soldered joints

Semelab Ltd

National Physical Laboratory
Round 1

This proposal aims to develop a method of evaluating the quality of plated piece-parts and soldered joints using a technique which addresses the “non-destructive inspection technologies and engineering measurements” example under the competition brief.

The products that are manufactured at Semelab all contain soldered joints to bond materials together, typically materials that are plated.

The quality of the plating of the incoming piece-parts is evaluated using a destructive bend test and solderability test that are performed on a sample basis but does not guarantee to highlight all potential faults in the plating.

For example recently a plated pin from a supplier was found to have 5, processed through the assembly line and identified during 100, leading to a significant delay to the customer.

The approach taken will be to explore current techniques with NPL, for example Lock-in Thermography, Time Domain Reflectroscopy (TDR) and electrical noise measurements to evaluate whether these techniques are capable of detecting defective plated pieceparts and soldered joints.

The success of this project would revolutionise the electronics manufacturing process as currently there is no known non-destructive technique of evaluating soldered joints directly after the manufacturing process which would lead to higher quality levels of product and less potential for suspect modules to be delivered to customers.

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