Can thermal imaging bring real benefits to electronic workbench applications?
As technology develops and faster processing speeds are required, it's only logical that more accurate and faster devices are use to test the performance PCB's.
Printed circuit boards (PCB), are at the heart of all electronic devices, with faster speeds comes increased performance of tasks vs time. As a consequence PCBs need to:
- have higher component density
- manage bigger electrical loads
For those reasons keeping control of and spotting hotspots on a PCB can make the diffenrence between failure or success.
Monitoring PCB temperature is nothing new for electronic design engineers. However, using temperature probes or other single point test methods is not enough to have a complete and simultaneous view of the full PCB, this method runs the risk of not identifing hidden hotspots, something which will cause big issues later.
Thermal imaging technology can be a great solution, it brings real benefits to PCB design and prototyping, as described below.
Quickly check the full PCB in a single view. Thermal imaging gives a full temperature view of the PCB ensuring no hotspots are missed.
Safe non-contact temperature check. Thermal imaging allows safe temperature checks, with no need to touch the PCB or the components, totally removing the risk of short circuit or electric shocks.
So why is thermal imaging not used more extensively in PCB prototyping? Probably the two main reasons are:
- Thermal Imaging remains a quite expensive technology.
- There isn't a thermal imaging camera specific for working with PCBs.
The good news is that the price of thermal imaging cameras has decreased significantly in the last few years. With more specific PCB workbench thermal imaging camera's appearing on the market,they are now an affordable investment for electronic design engineers.
FLIR ETS320 (135-6220) is an example of thermal imaging technology applied to the electronic workbench.
First on the market the FLIR ETS320 (135-6220) , is an affordable solution that can really help reduce test times and improve PCB design. R&D and product testing get's a big improvement as well, by monitoring heat you can see in real time how good or bad a system is functioning. The FLIR ETS320 (135-6220) helps engineers and test technicians collect accurate, reliable data in seconds and analyze it quickly using dedicated software.
- 320 x 240 IR resolution (76,800 pixels)
- Vibrant 3” LCD display
- 45° field of view
- ±3% measurement accuracy