The concept of using IR imaging technology in locating failures in populated and unpopulated printed circuit boards (PCB) has been around since the mid 70's. However, the use of IR imaging technology in predicting component failure has been almost nonexistent. An IR workstation was developed to identify components that had become degraded as a result of aging, stress, or 'wear and tear'. Unlike previous work in IR diagnostic which uses a 'gold' image for comparison, the image history is developed on an individual board basis. The boards were subjected to both thermal and voltage stress to induce component degradation and failure. Preliminary results indicate that some components show a consisted thermal profile that may be used in predicating the lifetime of some components; other components exhibit no consisted thermal pattern change. Due to the varying statistical nature of stress to PCB modules during use in the field and the complexity of designing thermal simulations for each type of PCB module, designing a low cost IR workstation to predict component lifetime is not practical. However, a related application of the effort offers the means to significantly enhance the reliability of PCB modules which have large populations.
Richard Q. Moy,
"Predicting electronic component lifetime using thermography", Proc. SPIE 1467, Thermosense XIII, (1 March 1991); doi: 10.1117/12.46432; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.46432