In the previous two decades, black-pad-syndrome was a leading cause of intermittent BGA electrical failure. In 2018, this seems to have been replaced by head-in-pillow defect. Both of these conditions generally require microsection analysis for a conclusive diagnosis as non-destructive techniques mostly fail to identify a problem. Here are some examples of head-in-pillow defect analyzed at SEM Lab, Inc.

Head-in-pillow defect at ball-A3

Head-in-pillow defect at ball-B5

This condition is primarily caused by thermal-mechanical warpage of the BGA during the solder reflow process. Some corrective action recommendations can be found in [1].

[1] SMT Troubleshooting Guide, “BGA Head-on-Pillow”,, Issued 10/08, p. 17.

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