The difference between 60 frames per second and 30 frames per second

INSIGHTS

Beyond megapixels: Why frame rate matters in digital microscopes (especially when reworking PCBs)

Author: Jake Kurth,
Country Manager for Americas at TAGARNO

In the ever-evolving landscape of PCB manufacturing, the role of digital microscopes has become increasingly indispensable. These advanced tools not only provide enhanced magnification but also open a realm of possibilities for professionals in the electronics industry.

This technical article explores three essential applications of digital microscopes within PCB manufacturing and sheds light on a critical factor often overlooked in the selection process: the frame rate.

Documenting Findings with High-Resolution Still Images?

Digital microscopes serve as the eyes of PCB manufacturing, allowing professionals to inspect and document details with precision. The ability to create high-resolution still images of magnified PCBs is crucial for quality control, analysis, and compliance with industry standards.

When utilizing a digital microscope to document findings, the emphasis is primarily on optical image resolution and pixel density. Optical Resolution, measured in microns (um), determines the ability to differentiate between two objects. It directly impacts the sharpness and quality of the visual content as it corresponds directly to the extent of details achievable in the image. This factor is crucial, especially in the context of PCB manufacturing, where intricate features and defects demand a higher resolution for clarity and precision in documentation.

Complementary to resolution, the megapixel count and pixel density, measured in pixels per inch (PPI), determines the number of pixels presented in one inch of the image and impacts the quality of the physical printed image. This is critical for maintaining the details and clarity in the printed image from the microscope. Opting for a digital microscope that strikes an optimal balance between optical resolution and digital resolution is imperative, ensuring high-quality visualization and documentation of the PCB manufacturing process.

Magnified PCB from a digital microscope
Resolution is a key factor to consider when choosing a digital microscope that will be used for documenting your findings.

Recording Videos for Dynamic Processes on the Assembly Line

The dynamic nature of certain processes on the PCB assembly line demands a tool that can keep pace with real-time monitoring. Digital microscopes equipped with video recording capabilities become invaluable for capturing slow or dynamic processes, offering a deeper understanding of the production workflow.

For high-quality recordings, it is no longer enough to consider resolution and pixel density. Therefore, professionals in the electronics industry must carefully evaluate both resolution and frame rate when selecting a digital microscope for video recordings. While 4K has become an industry standard, the frame rate is still greatly underestimated by many.

A frame rate of 60 frames per second (FPS) with very low latency is essential to ensure analysis of objects that are moving are not compromised, offering a valuable asset for optimizing processes, troubleshooting issues, and enhancing overall production efficiency.

Nevertheless, many digital microscopes still do not support 4K with 60 FPS at all and, where some 4K microscopes excel in recording videos at 60 FPS, they fall short when it comes to live imaging, often providing only 30 FPS or lower.

Let’s have a look at why that’s an issue.

Illustration of the difference between 30 frames per second and 60 frames per second on a digital microscope
A 4K 60 FPS camera provides double the amount of information than a 30 FPS camera in the same time period. For objects in motion this can be the difference between detecting something or not, and for operators presents a fluid visualization.

Reworking and Soldering Faulty PCBs with Live Imaging

The live imaging capabilities of digital microscopes are crucial during the critical tasks of reworking and soldering faulty PCBs. Real-time, detailed views are essential for professionals to execute precision work with confidence and accuracy.

Similar to video recordings, resolution and pixel density alone are insufficient when it comes to live imaging. The frame rate plays a central role in providing a seamless and lag-free experience, particularly during intricate tasks such as soldering and reworking. Many 4K microscopes offer 60 FPS exclusively in recorded videos, dropping to 30 FPS for live images. This discrepancy can impact the ability to monitor and analyze processes seamlessly and hinder the effectiveness of these processes.

Professionals seeking the highest standards in live imaging must carefully consider both resolution and frame rate. Selecting a digital microscope that delivers 4K resolution and an industry-leading 60 FPS for live images ensures that every action is observed with crystal-clear clarity. This capability eliminates guesswork during tasks such as identifying and correcting soldering defects, ultimately contributing to higher-quality PCBs.

Man using a digital microscope to inspect a PCB
When reworking or soldering PCBs, it’s important to make sure that the digital microscope provides 60 FPS on live images as well as on recorded videos.

Conclusion

In the realm of PCB manufacturing, digital microscopes stand as essential tools for professionals striving for precision and excellence. Understanding the three crucial applications — documenting findings with high-resolution still images, recording videos for dynamic processes, and live imaging for reworking and soldering — guides industry experts in optimizing their workflows.

However, the selection process goes beyond resolution and pixel density alone. The frame rate is a critical factor that must not be overlooked. Professionals in the electronics industry should prioritize digital microscopes that offer a consistent 60 FPS across both recorded videos and live images. This ensures a seamless and detailed view, allowing for informed decision-making and enhanced overall efficiency.

Explore TAGARNO's new 4K/60FPS microscope, T50

Besides offering a consistent 4K/60 FPS on both live and recorded inspections, the T50 offer a wide range of features that'll help PCB manufacturer take their PCB inspections to the next level.


Learn more about T50
TAGARNO T50, a digital microscope with 4K/60FPS images
Learn more about T50
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TAGARNO Head of Sales Western Europe Tina Snehøj Nielsen
Tina Snehøj Ravn Head of Sales Western Europe, Asia & Africa
TAGARNO USA Country Manager, Jake Kurth
Jake Kurth Vice President of Technical Sales Americas
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