Growth Opportunities for the World SMT Inspection Equipment Markets
Deliverable Type: Market Research
Date Published: 27 May 2005
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Research Overview

Tracking Developments in Novel PCB Packaging Technologies Essential to Sustain Growth

New and more complex printed circuit board (PCB) assembly and component packaging technologies, such as ball grid arrays (BGAs), are creating demand for more technically sophisticated X-ray inspection systems. Higher resolutions demanded by chip-scale packages (CSPs) and flip chips are also expected to spur growth for open-tube X-ray systems. For greater success in the future, vendors need to keep pace with the changing technologies favored by end users in the electronics manufacturing industry and accordingly align their product development strategies for surface mount technologies (SMT) inspection systems.

This Frost & Sullivan research service analyzes the world markets for SMT inspection systems, segmenting them into automated optical, X-ray, laser, and bare PCB inspection systems. It also discusses the various market trends and opportunities while providing in-depth analysis of market share, forecasts, drivers, restraints, and revenues. The comprehensive focus of this study enables companies to align their positioning strategies to benefit from the changing markets and obtain maximum return on investment.

Increasingly Flexible Production Necessitates Higher Throughput Inspection Systems

Significant improvements in SMT equipment including pick-and-place machines, screen printers, and reflow ovens as well as the introduction of 'modular' machines have increased the speed of SMT lines. Consequently, vendors of SMT inspection equipment are facing immense pressure to keep up with other PCB assembly equipment and maintain the speed of SMT lines. "In this regard, the in-line automated optical inspection (AOI) equipment has been the largest market segment," observes the analyst of this research. "Technological improvements in AOI equipment have resulted in higher throughput, repeatability, and reliability as well as increasing quality and production yields for the PCB assembly manufacturers."

Moreover, the growing demand for SMT equipment is reducing the need for expensive rework and repair while increasing throughput. As PCB assembly manufacturers aim for a zero-tolerance regime, the demand for pre-solder paste and pre-reflow optical inspection equipment that detect faults such as poor quality solder joints, tombstoning, and other post reflow defects is expected to rise significantly.

Increasing Use of New and Complex boards in Medical and Automotive Applications Encourages Changes in Equipment Capabilities

SMT inspection equipment derive the maximum demand from automotive and medical applications where miniaturization of components and more complex PCBs with high layer count necessitate novel inspection technologies. The medical and automotive segments contributed $30.4 million and $20.5 million respectively to the total revenues of the SMT inspection markets in 2004.

"Inspection of PCBs in medical and automotive applications is critical since the circuit has to be foolproof and rework must be avoided at all costs," explains the analyst. "On their part, vendors need to offer products with higher reliability and longer life cycles to remain competitive in these segments."

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