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Insight into the inside: X-ray inspection of solder quality

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Nikon Metrology XT V 160 checks power semiconductor devices in production line.

IXYS UK Westcode, part of the global power semiconductor manufacturer, IXYS Corporation, is investing in its Chippenham, UK factory to manufacture a new range of power semiconductor devices, which will be marketed alongside the company's long established Press-Pack Capsules. Nikon Metrology was chosen to supply the all-important X-ray equipment for checking the quality of the reflow soldering process during production.

"The machine is fast in operation and the stage is easy to manipulate in multiple axes, so tilting, rotating and positioning as well as zooming the image on the screen is rapid.” - Fiona Lambert, Process Engineer at IXYS UK Westcode.

An additional advantage of X-ray technology from Nikon Metrology is the stability of output due to the microfocus spot source and advanced image processing capabilities, essential to avoid degradation of image quality. Focus of the electron beam is maintained by a computer controlled, electromagnetic lens that ensures the target does not overheat whilst maintaining a micron spot size, even at high kV settings.

Although a high power machine, the XT V 160 is of open-tube design. As part of planned maintenance, replacement of the electron beam producing filament can be scheduled a couple of times per year for a cost of a few pounds. Filament replacement takes minutes, so downtime is short. A sealed tube, on the other hand, will last for a couple of years but can stop working without warning, perhaps at the worst possible time for the user. The manufacturer then has to be called in to renew the tube at a cost of many thousands of pounds and the machine is down for days.

Operating the XT V 160
Operating the XT V 160

Fiona Lambert operating the Nikon Metrology XT V 160 X-ray inspection system

Large manipulator inside XT V 160

The large manipulator stage allows to inspect multiple parts in a single batch.

Nikon Metrology delivers 1000th 160 kV X-ray source for electronics inspection system

The 1000th transmission target X-ray source to be manufactured in the UK at Nikon Metrology's Tring factory since production started in 1987.

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