A Nikon Metrology video measuring machine has improved quality control of PCBs at Stevenage Circuits Limited (SCL). The new Nikon iNEXIV VMA4540 is used virtually continuously for 2-D optical coordinate measurement of machined features and copper tracks. It underpins not only first article inspection of boards and printed reports for customers, but also process control in the drilling, etching and routing departments.
Alternatives to a replacement video measuring machine were evaluated, such as table-top varieties of measuring cameras and coordinate measuring machines. Even the possibility of subcontracting first article inspection to an external bureau was considered. However, it was decided that established in-house procedures would remain, so Robert Brown, owner and managing director of SCL and James Pickett, quality engineer, set about sourcing the best equipment for their requirements, productivity and affordability being key.
“We were influenced by Nikon’s name as a manufacturer quality cameras and optics. The iNEXIV was best in class and the clarity of the optics was second to none.
“Another positive factor was the VMA4540’s adaptable software. In addition, the support from Nikon Metrology’s UK team was deemed to be the best fit, as the company had a demo centre and a large team that was very knowledgeable about the system.”
Established in 1971, SCL is said to be the only European manufacturer with in-house capability for design and production of all four principal types of PCB. The single- and multi-layer boards are manufactured to a minimum standard of IPC class 2 and are supplied in high-volume, small batch or prototype quantities to PCBA (assembly) houses, where electronic components are mounted. Heat sinks are the only additions to the boards before they leave the Stevenage factory, bound for customers in over 40 countries. Radio frequency boards account for a majority of output and around one-third of total production is destined for the medical industry, while the space and military sectors are also regularly supplied.