Learn about Automated Optical Inspection (AOI), an automated visual inspection method used to detect defects in printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs). This article explores the definition, applications, implementation process, pros and cons, as well as the cost associated with AOI.
1. Definition and Applications of Automated Optical Inspection (AOI):
Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) is an automated visual inspection methodology primarily used to test for defects in PCBAs. AOI utilizes cameras to autonomously scan PCBAs and detect two types of failures: catastrophic failures (e.g., missing components) and quality failures (e.g., misshapen fillet or skewed components). AOI is most effective in high-volume production environments with low component variability.
2. When to Use Automated Optical Inspection (AOI):
AOI is ideal for PCBA inspection in production, particularly after solder reflow. However, it is not suitable for product development or low-volume runs (sub-5,000 units) due to the time and expense involved in setup. AOI is primarily used as a monitoring tool rather than a problem-solving or process improvement solution.
3. Implementation of Automated Optical Inspection (AOI):
Implementing AOI requires technical setup and programming. Each inspected component on a PCB needs to be programmed, which can be time-consuming. AOI is limited to inspecting known issues in known locations, and any product revision requires a programming update. This lack of flexibility makes AOI most suitable for high-volume, low-variability environments.
4. Pros and Cons of Automated Optical Inspection (AOI):
– Non-contact testing method.
– Accurate detection of programmed defects on PCBs, such as bad solder joints and missing parts.
– Limited defect detection capabilities, unable to catch defects with difficult-to-classify failure modes (e.g., glue or seal defects).
– Lack of flexibility, requiring programming for each change.
– Inability to discover new defects, only detecting preprogrammed ones.
– Limited access to data from AOI systems.
– Difficulty in remotely programming new defect tests into AOI systems.
– Limited value in product development.
5. Cost of Automated Optical Inspection (AOI):
AOI solutions are typically purchased on a capital expenditure (CapEx) model. The cost varies depending on hardware, software, and custom implementation services. AOI solutions generally start at $15,000 in VCTA.
Automated Optical Inspection (AOI) is an automated visual inspection method used to detect defects in PCBAs. While AOI offers benefits such as non-contact testing and accurate defect detection, it has limitations in terms of defect detection capabilities and flexibility. AOI is best suited for high-volume production environments with low component variability. The cost of AOI solutions typically starts at $30,000.