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A DMAIC approach to printed circuit board quality improvement


Since the early 1990s, six sigma has been sweeping the business world, driving greater manufacturing and service quality than has ever been seen before. Statistical quality techniques are one of the decisive factors contributing to the success of the six-sigma implementation. Applying statistical quality techniques is especially important in the manufacture of surface-mounted printed circuit boards (PCB). As any defect in the solder joint can lead to circuit failure, the screening process is regarded as the most critical process in PCB manufacturing. According to the current process capability study of a PCB company, the capability of the screening process is under 1.33—the company requirement. That is to say, the current printing process cannot reach a four-sigma level. Therefore, the objective of this study is to improve the sigma level of the screening process through the define-measure-analyse-improve-control (DMAIC) approach. At the early stages, process capability analysis (PCA) and statistical process control (SPC) were used to measure and analyse the current printing performance of the screening machines. During later stages, design of experiment (DOE) was conducted to determine the optimal settings of the critical-to-quality factors in the screening process. By using these optimal settings, six-sigma performance can be achieved.

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The authors would like to thank the company for the opportunity to conduct this case study and also the technical staff for their assistance, ideas and experience throughout the study. The support of Florent Nasse, Karen Chan, and Joe Wong is acknowledged. The authors would like to thank the editor, the anonymous referees, and Dr. Richard Linn for their valuable comments. This paper is derived from the winning project of 2000 Quality Management Student Project Competition supervised by Dr. Fugee Tsung. His research was supported by RGC Competitive Earmarked Research Grants HKUST6073/00E and HKUST6011/01E.

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Correspondence to F. Tsung.

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Tong, J.P.C., Tsung, F. & Yen, B.P.C. A DMAIC approach to printed circuit board quality improvement. Int J Adv Manuf Technol 23, 523–531 (2004).

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  • Six sigma improvement
  • Define-measure-analyse-improve control (DMAIC) approach
  • Design of experiment (DOE)
  • Multi-layer printed circuit board (PCB)
  • Surface mount technology (SMT)
  • Screening process