As technology evolves, more components are integrated into printed circuit boards (PCBs) and the PCB layout increases. Because small defects on signal trace can cause significant damage to the system, PCB surface inspection is one of the most important quality control processes. Owing to the limitations of manual inspection, significant efforts have been made to automate the inspection by utilizing high resolution CCD or CMOS sensors. Despite the advanced sensor technology, setting the pass/fail criteria based on small failure samples has always been challenging in traditional machine vision approaches. To overcome these problems, we propose an advanced PCB inspection system based on a skip-connected convolutional autoencoder. The deep autoencoder model was trained to decode the original non-defect images from the defect images. The decoded images were then compared with the input image to identify the defect location. To overcome the small and imbalanced dataset in the early manufacturing stage, we applied appropriate image augmentation to improve the model training performance. The experimental results reveal that a simple unsupervised autoencoder model delivers promising performance, with a detection rate of up to 98% and a false pass rate below 1.7% for the test data, containing 3900 defect and non-defect images.
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