Printed circuit board manufacturing is similar to the creation of other products in that the system is never perfect. There may be issues with some of the items produced such that they will not work when tested or fail readily when subjected to stress. Soldering could be bad in some areas of the board. Component placement may be misaligned. So many things could go wrong and these should be found as soon as possible. Manufacturers can employ various methods to do this including manual inspection, automated optical inspection, or automated X-ray inspection. These entail added costs but companies perform them anyway because PCB inspection provides the following benefits:
Find Manufacturing Defects and Correct Them
Manufacturers are able to catch manufacturing defects early such that affected units can be taken out and replacements can be made in their place. This is an important part of the process, especially when there is a massive order to be filled. It would be easier and cheap to correct the situation as early as possible rather than discovering the faults at the end and having to do everything all over again. There are usually several cameras watching the various stages so that they can catch anything irregular right away. This level of care improves the customer satisfaction.
Improve Research and Development Efficiency
On the part of the customers, nothing is quite as frustrating as waiting for days or even weeks for the boards to arrive only to find out that several of them have manufacturing defects. This will force them to request a new batch and wait for the same amount of time to get the complete order. This introduces unnecessary delays in the research and development. They will need to get several prototypes printed and this simply cannot keep happening at that stage. It would be costly to waste time given that competitors are also hard at work with their own prototypes.
Identify Pattern Faults for Fixing
It is in the interest of the manufacturer to identify the faults on their end through a thorough study of the errors in circuit boards. Perhaps they have issues with their machines that require fixing or recalibration. Their engineers must study these to make the appropriate adjustments in a timely manner. This will prevent a repeat of the errors and make their operations more reliable.
When choosing a PCB manufacturer, be sure to check their PCB inspection methods and policies.