AI is essentially a manual inspection process, but with boards containing hundreds of components, locating every component by eye and comparing it to the customer’s Bill of Materials (BOM) is extremely time consuming, tedious and prone to error. Automating this process using vision technology allows the presence, positioning and identity of SMT components to be checked by directly referencing the BOM, improving accuracy and saving time. As the check is done before reflow, the inspection is non- destructive thereby increasing efficiency and first time pass rate.


THE NEW FAI SYSTEM Norcott developed their first custom- built FAI XY vision inspection system around eight years ago, but with the hardware and software used becoming obsolete, a new system was required. The new FAI system uses a high resolution five Mpixel UI-3580CP USB 3.0 colour camera from IDS, equipped with high quality optics. This is mounted on a motorised XY platform to allow first off inspections to be performed under high magnification. The versatile camera links into Norcott’s bespoke application software using the uEye API, which is part of the IDS Software Development Kit supplied with all IDS cameras. PCBs for inspection are populated with the components held in the correct location on the board using solder paste. With three independent surface mount lines, Norcott is able to provide a flexible manufacturing facility capable of supporting a rapid prototype service and larger regular production requirements. Generally any combination of surface mount (SMT) and through- hole (PTH) components can be accommodated: • Single-Sided SMT • Double-Sided SMT • Single-Sided SMT + PTH • Double-Sided SMT + PTH • Double-Sided SMT + Double-Sided PTH


Getting the correct components in the right place is crucial for SMT PCB assembly. Contract PCB assembler, Norcott Technologies, is using USB 3.0 camera technology in a new, custom-built First Article Inspection (FAI) system to help automate the PCB inspection process. FAI allows a final check that the correct component is in the correct position on the board before the board goes for soldering. It ensures that the expected output conforms to the customer’s qualified process during normal production

A number of features are built into the system to allow operators to quickly load customer BOMs which contain the list of parts or components used and their placement on the printed circuit board as specified by the customer. As each component is called up on the BOM, the camera is automatically driven to the correct location for inspection. There is no set-up required – the system is ready for inspection within two minutes of start up. The camera system produces a 50mm square field of view at a resolution capable of imaging even 0201 components. A zoom function is provided if higher magnification is required. The bespoke software facilitates a

myriad of information to be displayed in real-time so each component can be checked visually for presence, positioning, orientation, part-marking, polarity and many other parameters. Boards that pass the inspection then progress for soldering. If there is any discrepancy between the board and the BOM, the software can save a high- resolution copy of the component image to a shared folder for Norcott’s team of engineers to validate.

VERSATILE CAMERA Norcott chose the UI-3580CP USB 3.0 colour camera for the new FAI system because of its high resolution, high frame rates, versatile software interface and future proof connectivity through USB3. The USB 3 interface offers ‘plug’n’play’ connectivity and fast data transmission rates of up to 420 MByte/s. The compact UI- 3580CP Rev. 2 USB 3.0 camera

used in this application measures just 29 x 29 x 29mm with an exceptionally robust yet lightweight magnesium housing. It features the 4.92 megapixel colour CMOS sensor from ON Semiconductor with rolling and global start shutter features, which means it can be used for recording moving as well as static images. The A-Pix pixel technology makes the camera particularly suitable for applications that require maximum precision in colour rendering and crystal clear image quality. The UI-3580CP camera, like all IDS

cameras, is supplied with the versatile IDS SDK. Featuring drivers and interfaces (DirectShow, TWAIN, ActiveX and GenICam), this SDK is identical across all of the IDS camera models – regardless of whether they have a USB 2.0, USB 3.0 or GigE interface – and provides support for the most popular imaging processing libraries, such as Common Vision Blox, HALCON, LabVIEW, NeuroCheck, and many more. The IDS SDK provides the flexibility to interface to a wide variety of systems as well as offering a number of control functions that can significantly improve image quality in challenging imaging conditions and the API allowed Norcott to interface the camera directly to its custom software. Since the SDK is identical for all cameras in the IDS range, there is the potential to seamlessly switch to another model should future requirements change. A second First Article Inspection system is now under construction at Norcott, again with the UI-3580CP being the camera of choice, and will be commissioned together with a new SMT production line.

IDS Imaging Development Systems T: 0118 970 1704


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