The ultimate goal of this work is an improved method to assess the significance of anomalies in surface mount technology (SMT) solder joints, by relating them to field performance and reliability. The fitness-for-purpose approach can be applied to SMT solder joints by relating specific characteristics or flaw indications in individual solder joints to their likelihood of failure, through finite element analysis. An effort is underway to automate the finite element modeling of actual solder joints by generating meshes from optical and X-ray inspection data in the form of thousands of surface points. Computer programs have been written to convert these surface points to finite element meshes. Two trial data sets have been meshed, one from an X-ray laminography system and one from a machine vision system.

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