CIL maintains its pole position with Nordson DAGE X-ray inspection upgrade

of the most technically challenging electronic assemblies in the UK. This allows them to meet the functional, environmental and dimensional demands of high-reliability, mission-critical applications in sectors like medical, aerospace, oil & gas and others.


This obviously calls for long experience and great expertise, but, as components shrink and boards become ever more densely populated, it also depends on having the most advanced manufacturing equipment available – backed in turn by the best inspection test and diagnostic tools on the market. It’s possible to build advanced- technology PCB assemblies, and then not be equipped to find fault sites and root causes if things go wrong in the field. In fact, CIL sometimes rescues customers in these situations, by having the resources to identify faults on equipment that other suppliers have built, yet have been unable to troubleshoot successfully.

Accordingly, after 14 years’ successful experience with a DAGE XD7600 X-ray machine, CIL decided to update to a Nordson DAGE Quadra 5 system better-equipped to inspect the boards they now produce.

CIL’s decision was driven both by the Quadra 5’s advanced technical capabilities, and by the quality of support from Nordson DAGE and their UK suppliers, Cupio.

A key Quadra 5 advantage is its computerised tomography (CT) capability. X-Plane builds X-ray 3D images comprising up to 1000 distinct slices or image planes of the component being inspected. A slice will remove obstructions outside the plane of focus, leaving only the regions of interest. Defects like interfacial voids, cracks, HIP and other solder defects can be found and measured easily. CT image cross-sections can be generated from anywhere on the sample tray without need for manual alignment. The CT sample stage provided with the CIL Quadra 5 adds full CT capability for small samples requiring 3D reconstruction for detailed analysis.

The system produces ultra-high quality images using Nordson DAGE’s latest generation QuadraNT™ X-ray source, which is 10 times brighter and intrinsically more stable than conventional X-ray tubes. This is complemented by an Aspire flat panel detector, which combines 16-bit contrast with 3 megapixel resolution. Feature recognition down to 350nm and magnification up to 45,000 times allow visibility of the finest details and quick identification of defects.

These advantages over the earlier machine help CIL to meet the inspection demands posed by today’s densely-packed PCBs and miniaturised components. Additionally, CT scanning gives CIL a new ability to find unusual, not previously seen failures and their root causes.

Once discovered, CIL can check for their presence in other products that are not necessarily exposed to the same conditions. This pre-empts problems that could arise from a latent failure mechanism. This may never be triggered for many products, but overall quality has nevertheless been further improved at invisible as well as visible levels.

Accordingly, the system supports CIL’s current complement of six SMT lines placing down to 01005 and all current IC package styles including BGA, LGA, QFN & CSP and associated inspection and test equipment, including AOI and flying probe test, plus the X-ray inspection resource.

The Quadra 5 is used on low-volume and prototyping projects as well as ongoing production runs. In these cases, it is often used before as well as after the reflow stage to provide extra opportunities for design modification.

Cupio and Nordson DAGE’s support contributed significantly to CIL’s decision. This had always been readily available, but became especially critical when the company was involved in a challenging investigation into one particularly complex fault condition. According to John Boston, CIL’s Managing Director, Cupio and Nordson DAGE’s timely contribution was instrumental in finding a successful solution.

After installation, Cupio provided on-site training in the new system features while updating the operators in its inspection techniques. This mainly concerned the new CT scan and X- Plane technology; for the more conventional scanning modes, the user interface was very similar to the earlier machine’s, so the learning curve was reduced accordingly. “Automatic inspection is fundamental to process integrity, and, as our production includes ICs with under-package pinouts, X-Ray inspection remains essential. For this, we trusted Cupio to provide the right solution” comments John Boston, “Yet this is just part of extensive new capital investment designed to maintain the most advanced manufacturing capability in the UK.

“Ultimately, this investment allows us to continue delivering reliable, timely and cost-effective solutions. Our manufacturing facility visitors will see our ability to deliver on our promise.”


ustom Interconnect Ltd (CIL) is a long-established electronics manufacturer engaged in producing some

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