ICSR (Soldering and Reliability) Conference Proceedings


Case Histories in Failure Analysis of Electronics Assemblies

Author: Vladimir Igoshev
Company: SENTEC Testing Laboratory Inc.
Date Published: 5/4/2011   Conference: ICSR (Soldering and Reliability)


Abstract: When an electronics company faces an assembly problem either due to improper processing (SMT, wave, ctc.), or defective components they must do analysis on the process/components/PWB. Inspection capabilities of the vast majority of EMS companies are limited only to visual, using stereo microscopy with the maximum power of 70x, or more powerful reflected light microscopes. In many cases it may not be sufficient to solve the problem, or even resolve some features in structural elements of a board, like microvias. Therefore, even though it’s obvious where to look it may not be that easy to establish what exactly the root cause for the problem is.

To overcome "the lack of technical ammunition" the company would try different things to solve the problem. The process could be tweaked or the suspect components could be tempered with (particularly BGAs) or replaced. It may take several days to try everything and even if the problem goes away, there will be no guarantee the same issue(s) will not pop up again, because the REAL root cause for the problem has never been established.

Alternatively, if proper failure analysis is done and the root cause for a problem established, then appropriate corrective actions can be implemented to avoid the same issue in future. Although solving problems this way may involve the cost of hiring a testing/failure analysis contractor, it often saves time and definitely does save money in a long run and usually results in a more satisfied customer because proper analysis has been done.

In real life, a company would try everything to solve a problem in house and only then would think of hiring a third party to solve it. The majority of case histories below represent similar situations.

Key words: Root cause analysis.



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