Best Thermal Imaging Cameras for PCB Inspection

PCB (Printed Circuit Board) assembly inspection is part of an electronics manufacturing process checklist nowadays, especially with highly complex circuit boards. It can detect any potential premature failure right after the manufacturing process. A few optical tools can be used, such as PCB inspection microscope camera with magnifier glass, which can provide zoomed in visual image of PCB assembly. There are a few methods PCB inspection jobs can be performed, such as Manual PCB inspection, AOI PCB inspection, AXI PCB inspection, Ultraviolet (UV) PCB inspection, and OpenCV PCB inspection. However, the thermal imaging camera offers another method for reliable and quick PCB inspection. 

 

To the users and manufacturers of electrical, mechanical and machinery equipment, the benefits of thermal inspection are endless, potentially useful and this has made it a valuable diagnostic tool for various industrial applications. Perfect temperature indications from the appropriate devices are capable of locating and revealing defective connections or components before failure which may result in fire, immense damage or dangerous explosions. The decreased liability of a thermally inspected system now includes to lower discounted rates insurance providers not to mention the reduced repair cost and decreased lost production hours when system fault s are brought to a timely check. 

 

Streamlining the scope of the thermal inspection to PCB Inspection only, the notion of predictive electrical maintenance is the primary solution purported by manufacturers of thermal cameras to enable thermographers “see,” measure, record temperatures and find defects in raw and populated PCB as well as hot spots. Electricians always find it hard to detect overstressed components, poor heat sinks, and bad solder joints because the human eye can only see a tiny part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Thus, owing to the rising development trend for high density and lead-free and halogen-free environmental requirement, the demand for PCB Inspection becomes increasingly essential to circumvent against issues of bad wettability, crack, and delamination which may put the question of high quality and reliability of PCBs In doubt. Hot spot inspection becomes the perfect thermography inspection scheme to detect hot spots in electrical connections and equipment. When conducted on circuits with high system loads, it affords experienced inspectors and engineers to reveal existing or potential hot spots and ensure that remedial measure is undertaken to guarantee safety and reduces the cost of repairs

 

So, the purpose of this article is to bring to light the features of the best innovative Thermal Cameras alongside their advantages. In essence, this serves as a guide for OEMs in picking the most suitable thermal camera based on the likelihood of cost and product requirement. For the lay-mind out there, the process of the inspection by thermal cameras is not much of a big deal; a typical thermal camera simply permits the rapid scan of switchyard buses and equipment terminals to detect temperature differences. So, to give the inspector visual control over the process, the signals from photovoltaic detectors are electronically amplified and transferred to a small viewing screen producing an image that corresponds with the thermal patterns of the scanned area. Practically, these temperature differences are portrayed in different colors or shades of gray.

 

A scrutinized lists of top-notch thermal cameras as PCB inspection equipment system including but not limited, Fotric 222s kit, Flir ETS320, Fotric 225s kit, Fotric 226s kit. An automated optical PCB inspection program with the above thermal camera was set up in some manufacturing plant to implement quality control. 

 

1)    FOTRIC 222s Thermal Camera Bench Top Test Kit, 6,400 pixels (80 x 80)

Features and Advantages

Adjustable Focus Lens F1.0 – You can always focus on the area needed. F1.0 large aperture IR lens help you take high quality infrared radiometric images and videos.

High Measurement Precision - ±2°C or ±2%. 222s can easily aim and detect hot scenes; all thanks to the 222s’ Ulis IR Imaging Engine. Emissivity set for each ROI (Region of Interest).

Short Radiometric Video - With Fotric 222s, you can record a single radiometric video directly in the camera with a smartphone with up to 1,000 frames up to 5 frames per second (fps).

1TB Long Radiometric Video - With Fotric 222s and FREE software - Fotric AnalyzIR, you can continuously record a single radiometric video file with up to 1TB up to 30 fps to your computer with USB interface.

Long Battery Time – 12+ hours battery use time after each charge.

FREE Super Powerful Analysis Software – Various trigger recording. Real-time temperature history plot. Temperature difference analysis mode. The 3D plot of T and ∆T…

Fotric 222s kit is a perfect PCB inspection tool combining the power of 6,400 (80x80 IR sensor) non-contact points of temperature measurement to quickly locate the hot spots; Wide temperature range -4°F~662°F; High accuracy and high sensitivity enough to detect temperature differences helps to quickly identify faults and thermal gradients. Test kit includes Fotric 222s thermal camera, workbench, and FREE Samsung smartphone.

The Fotric 222s kit is a cost-effective PCB inspection station for finding vague hot and cold spots for instant troubleshooting. It can record radiometric videos to capture sudden temperature change for post-failure analysis.

 

 

2)    FOTRIC 225s Thermal Camera Bench Top Test Kit, 76,800 pixels (320 x 240)

Features and Advantages

Adjustable Focus Lens F1.0 – You can always focus on the area needed. F1.0 large aperture IR lens help you take high quality infrared radiometric images and videos.

High Measurement Precision - ±2°C or ±2%. 225s can easily aim and detect hot scenes; all thanks to the 225s’ Ulis IR Imaging Engine. Emissivity set for each ROI (Region of Interest).

Short Radiometric Video - With Fotric 225s, you can record a single radiometric video directly in the camera with a smartphone with up to 1,000 frames up to 5 frames per second (fps).

1TB Long Radiometric Video - With Fotric 225s and FREE software - Fotric AnalyzIR, you can continuously record a single radiometric video file with up to 1TB up to 30 fps to your computer with USB interface. Ideal to capture sudden temperature change for post-failure analysis.

Long Battery Time – 10+ hours battery use time after each charge.

FREE Super Powerful Analysis Software – Various trigger recording. Real-time temperature history plot. Temperature difference analysis mode. The 3D plot of T and ∆T…

The Fotric 225s high-resolution and high-sensitivity imaging initiative is one at its very best. With a wide temperature range of -4°F~662°F, its stunning accurate camera can detect temperature fluctuation and express them in simple multi-color representation for temperature recording and analysis. 225s has high sensitivity (<.06C) to detect tiny temperature difference so you can quickly identify hot spots and potential points of failure. It sits on an adjustable 360-degree position with a changeable focus distance. It is a perfect professional grade PCB inspection system including Fotric 225s thermal camera, workbench, and FREE Samsung smartphone.

 

3)    Flir ETS320 Thermal Camera Bench Top Test Kit, 76,800 pixels (320 x 240)

Features and Advantages

Wide temperature range between -20°C to 250°C

High sensitivity camera for low temperature

Crisp 3” LCD with Pole mount for best customer experience

ETS320, its infrared camera can detect little temperature up to < 0.06°C with a measurement accuracy of up ±3°C. Its features and accessories make it a good choice for workers carrying out hotspot inspection or PCB inspection for quality test. The lens focus is fixed in one direction, so the object view area size is fixed, which limits the usage in some applications. 

 

  Fotric 222s kit Flir ETS320 Fotric 225s kit Fotric 226s kit
IR Resolution 80 x 80 (6,400 pixels) 320 x 240 (76,800 pixels) 320 x 240 (76,800 pixels) 384 x 288 (110,592 pixels)
Thermal Sensitivity/NETD < 0.06°C < 0.06°C < 0.06°C < 0.06°C
Accuracy ±2°C or ±2% ±3°C or ±3% ±2°C or ±2% ±2°C or ±2%
Field of View (FOV) 50° x 50° 45° x 34° 40° x 30° 47° x 35°
Focus Adjustable Fixed Adjustable Adjustable
Temperature Range -20°C to 350°C (-4°F to 662°F) -20°C to 250°C (-4°F to 482°F) -20°C to 350°C (-4°F to 662°F) -20°C to 350°C (-4°F to 662°F)
Short Radiometric Video Up to 1,000 frames, up to 5 fps Not supported Up to 1,000 frames, up to 5 fps Up to 1,000 frames, up to 5 fps
Long Radiometric Video Up to 1TB, long time TBD Up to 1TB, long time Up to 1TB, long time
Display 5.5 in 1280 x 720 pixel 3 in 320 x 240 pixel 5.5 in 1280 x 720 pixel 5.5 in 1280 x 720 pixel
Battery Use Time 12+ hours 4 hours 10+ hours 10+ hours
Professional Software Fotric AnalyzIR - Included Flir ResearchIR - $$$$ Fotric AnalyzIR - Included Fotric AnalyzIR - Included
Warranty 1 Year 1 Year 2 Years 2 Years