A new generation X-ray laminography (XRL) automated Xray inspection (AXI) tool was evaluated for surface mount technology (SMT) assembly defect detection and was qualified using formal “benchmark” comparative analysis processes. In addition, defect characterization was performed using the XRL AXI system in manual X-ray inspection mode to correlate various failure modes and mechanisms at SMT solder joint interfaces for selected non-destructive failure analyses and technology development. Since ball grid array (BGA) solder joint quality is a great concern in board assembly, test technology development and failure analysis teams explored the use of XRL AXI as a method to detect and monitor BGA ball abnormalities using XRL AXI-generated solder ball images and measurements. It was found that XRL AXI was able to successfully discern differences in the shape, location and diameter of the suspect BGA solder balls from XRL AXI horizontal image planes (slices) for physical failure analysis and reliability issues not previously detected using conventional X-ray transmission or electrical methods. Subsequent metallographic x-sectioning correlated the XRL AXI mages to the physical condition of the suspected second level interconnect (SLI) solder joint location.