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Neurala VIA for Electronics Component Inspection
Neurala, Inc. Posted 02/16/2021
Integrated circuits (ICs) and other electronic components are complex items to manufacture, complex to deliver, and even more complex to ensure continued quality of the components. While some ICs are standard components, they are often customer designed for a specific purpose. ICs are critical pieces of almost every electronic device manufactured today, and in 2018, the market reached $480Bn.
A large electronics manufacturer may have the ability to produce ICs in house, but often they go to a specialist. The specialist produces both standard products available to purchase off the shelf, and may also pride itself in their ability to make custom IC products quickly and at high quality. Because of the engineering cost of developing ICs, most are produced to be used in products with larger volumes. However, large IC manufacturers still often have a very healthy mix of different products, and are regularly add more products to their catalog.
Take an IC manufacturer that produces a mix of different ICs, both custom and standard, for various customers. They have in-house design team and libraries, and not only sell the components but their design expertise. They manufacture and test ICs, and occasionally manufacture complete product prototypes.
The company has a high mix of products, which are also produced in very high volumes. They are focused on solving challenging engineering problems, and helping their customers create products that can change the world.
IC manufacturers typically use a combination of visual inspection, x-ray inspection, and functional testing. For custom products, the level of testing done is dependent on the customer and their contract. The more testing that is done (e.g. up to functional testing), the more expensive the IC component--but also the higher the quality. Visually, the body, any markings, pin quality, and solder trace quality are some of the items that are inspected. Visual inspection can be done by an automated machine (that is costly to run and program), or by trained operators, either by the naked eye or using microscopic images.
Neurala VIA Implementation
Neurala VIA can either replace or complement existing solutions. For example, the company may continue to use traditional inspection methods on their standard product lines, but implement VIA on the custom products with lower volume to provide an easy quality inspection solution. In this case, in order to work with existing microscopes, Neurala VIA would collect images through the API interface, rather than through the standard GigE Vision interface.
Depending on the level of defective parts available, a classification model could help indicate the type of failure. A few examples of the types of failure this approach could identify include solder traces not complete, component missing, or component in the wrong orientation.
Adapting to Market Changes
The mix of product IC and electrical component manufacturers is shifting heavily towards medical devices in order to meet market demands. In order to meet these current demands, quality procedures are being examined to make sure all regulations are met. They are also facing unprecedented changes to their systems, leading to an increased focus on automation throughout their production in order to reduce the proximity of people working on the floor.
The Bottom Line
• Ease of change: Neurala’s solution does not require an expert to set up, and only requires images of “acceptable” product to train a model to find defects. Since most operators are able to program and run a model, manufacturers can get up and running faster, with less expertise. At the same time , they can improve productivity by minimizing downtime between product runs.
• Cost: Unlike a specialized inspection machine that can cost up to $500,000, both the equipment needed and the software itself are significantly less expensive. The increased speed of set up, and the fact that skilled programmers aren’t needed, will decrease overall cost of implementation.
• Flexibility: Neurala VIA allows manufacturers to bring their own hardware: choose what camera, microscope or other 2D image capture device is best for the application at hand.
• Variability: Neurala VIA provides manufacturers with the ability to provide more inspection types to their customer, ensuring that there is a higher yield at the customer, helping the customer solve increasingly challenging problems without increasing cost significantly.
• Return on Investment: With only a slight increase in cost, the Neurala solution gives manufacturers the ability to offer higher quality to the customer. Neurala VIA helps customers build smarter products, faster, increasing the of the production line, while minimizing costs - all at the same time.
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