Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) Testing and Analysis

Defects in electronics assemblies are an unfortunate fact of life. With variation in supplied materials, assembly processes, storage, handling, etc., problems do arise. The ability of a company to quickly identify, isolate, and solve these problems has a significant impact on their bottom line.

The mission of Covalent Metrology’s PCBA Materials Analysis Division is to bridge the gap between manufacturing and the laboratory. Matching the right techniques to the application is the key for fast resolution of potentially expensive problems.

The value-add is to minimize downtime, scrap assemblies, and field returns. Knowing what to look for and how to see it comes with experience. Covalent Metrology’s engineers and technicians have over 30 years of experience providing materials analysis on PCB assemblies.

Issues with solder joints (e.g., BGAs, QFNs, SMDs, Thru-Pins, etc.), press-fit connectors, and PCB fabrication can be quickly identified. The data tells us if problems are related to assembly processes, supplied materials, or both.

Analysis results can be used for failure investigations or to determine compliance with IPC-A-610G, IPC-A-600J, and other IPC workmanship specifications.

Common techniques include X-ray and visual inspections, cross-sectioning, Dye & Pry, and SEM/EDX. Additional techniques are used for specific applications. For detailed information, please see:

IPC Member Covalent Metrology

Example Outputs

X-ray images showing BGA solder joints (Left) and a QFN device (Right)

Press-fit connector pins – X-ray (left), cross-section (Right)

External inspection and cross-section of transistor pin showing insufficient hole-fill

Dye & Pry Test showing cracked BGA solder joints

Cross-section of a Micro-via stack registration

Cross-section of BGA flip-chip with Head-in Pillow defect

SEM image of BGA pad fracture surface

EDX spectrum from BGA pad fracture surface showing Ni, Cu, Sn, and Au. The gold at this surface is associated with a brittle solder joint

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