Test and Inspection

David Bernard

A practical approach for BGA void analysis.

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David BernardSimple process steps for inspecting arrays. (But don’t expect them to always be the source of failures.)

After more than 15 years working with people who choose to use x-ray inspection as part of their fault-finding and quality-ensuring procedures, the most common refrain I hear is, “The board’s not working; it must be the BGA.” I do also hear this from those who do not have access to x-ray!

Arguably, as the BGA was the first commonly used component to be placed on boards with all its interconnections hidden from any possibility of post-reflow optical inspection, I suggest the BGA has been the primary driver for the increased uptake of x-ray inspection in recent years. After all, x-ray inspection is nondestructive and can see where optical systems cannot. Perhaps it is the entirely optically hidden nature of the BGA joints that has caused its infamy within electronics manufacturing. By not being able to see the joints that have been made, how can the BGA be ruled out as the cause of the failing circuit? Without some certitude in this, how can a contract manufacturer assuage its client’s belief that all non-working products have been caused by poor reflow under the BGA, rather than by some other mechanism? X-ray inspection goes a long way to help both parties resolve this, and, assuming it isn’t actually the BGA’s fault, the “first likely cause of problem” can be ruled out, and all parties can move on quickly and productively to consider other potential reasons for the issue.

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Robert BoguskiWhen you only have one shot (or two, or three) to make a great impression.

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Robert BoguskiMore amazing tales from the front.

“How much bandwidth do you have?”

I had just entered the conference room. He barely said hello, and didn’t wait for me to sit down or unload my laptop from my shoulder. Hardly glanced at my accompanying Sales Rep either. No nonsense, little acknowledgment. Right to the point. He insisted:

“How much bandwidth do you have?”

I replied, inquisitorially, “How much bandwidth do you need?”

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Robert BoguskiDiligence can pay off. (Sometimes.)

The call punctuated one otherwise listless afternoon.

“Can you come over for a meeting?”


She never wants to order anything from us. She claims her process is perfect, hence no need for testing. She calls only when she wants to vent her spleen or get some free advice. She thinks our on-demand, zero-notice consultation time is limitless. No statute of limitations. She also really likes the value-added component of free advice, which she can mark up and pass along. That advice also tends to make her process more perfect than it already is. Imagine that: perfecting perfection. Did I mention that enabling wisdom was free?

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Robert BoguskiAnswers to problems abound, but the questions are elusive.

High-tech companies pride themselves on their ability to deliver solutions. Firms feel useful – and justified – by doing so, thereby serving humanity. They want you to know that. The effort, or the splashy publicity emanating therefrom, ennobles them, so they think. This satisfies a certain insecure technocentric mindset, needing frequent validation. Touting solutions drives tech companies’ marketing; it trumpets, for all to hear, their reason for being. Quite an impressive spectrum, those solutions. Just sample the advertising. The magic word isn’t hard to find; in fact, it can be overwhelming in its ubiquity, in multiple languages: “Offering cost-effective solutions to the EMS industry since 1984.” “Your solution partner.” “Complete inspection solution.” “Produktloesungen.” “Innovative solutions at your fingertips.” “Soluciones Integradas.” “Creating solutions.” “Cleanroom and containment solutions.” “X-ray inspection solutions.” “Optimale systemloesungen.” “Advanced switching solutions.” “Bespoke solutions.” “Providing today’s solutions for tomorrow’s products.” “Custom NDT solutions.” “Your partner in embedded solution.” “Reliable climate solutions.” “Network connectivity solutions.” “Integrated boundary scan test solution.” “The solution to America’s problems is a big, beautiful wall.” “Customized solutions.” “Integrated test solutions.” That last one’s catchy. Bottle it.

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