Detecting temperature differences on PCB components

Jon Lawson

When something goes wrong in a PCB, whether it is improper soldering of a circuit or a failing component, the PCB will heat up. Therefore, thermal imaging offers a very good way to diagnose problems in the design phase of a PCB, to test it before it is supplied to a customer or in the qualification stage.

The traditional alternative to using thermal imaging for fault diagnosis in PCB electronics has been to use thermocouples. Unlike thermocouple measurements that require contact with the PCB board, thermal imaging is a non-contact temperature measurement technology that does not risk disturbing or damaging microelectronic components.

Dutch embedded electronics specialist – 3T is using a FLIR thermal imaging camera to detect hot spots of less than 125 x 125 microns in size that may indicate a PCB component is likely to fail.

Using a FLIR T420 thermal imaging camera with 50µm close-up lens, 3T is now able to focus upon and routinely study the performance of individual microelectronic components in their printed circuit boards.