Via in pad PCB (Printed Circuit board) technology for passive components such as chip capacitors and resistors, provides the potential for improved signal routing density and reduced PCB area. Because of these improvements there is the potential for PCB cost reduction as well as gains in electrical performance through reduced impedance and inductance. However, not long after the implementation, double digit unit failures for solder joint electrical opens due to capacitor “tombstoning” began to occur. Failure modes included via fill material (solder mask) protrusion from the via as well as “out gassing” and related “tombstoning.” This failure analysis involved investigating a strong dependence on PCB supplier and, less obviously, manufacturing site. Other factors evaluated included via fill material, drill size, via fill thermal history and via fill amount or fill percent. The factor most implicated was incomplete cure of the via fill material. Previous thermal gravimetric analysis methods to determine level of polymerization or cure did not provide an ability to measure and demonstrate via fill cure level in small selected areas or its link to the failures. As a result, there was a metrology approach developed to establish this link and root-cause the failures in the field, which was based on microhardness techniques and noncontact via fill measuring metrologies.

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