Northfield Automation introduces rapid roll-to-roll systems for test and inspection of flexible electronics such as displays

July 21, 2014
NORTHFIELD, MINN. -- Northfield Automation Systems, Inc. (NAS), announced today that the company has introduced an in-line rapid roll-to-roll test and vision inspection system for the flexible and rigid electronics fabrication industry. The new, integrated, high-volume testing system is designed to improve product quality and increase yields for manufacturers of smartphones, tablets, touch screen monitors, televisions and wearable electronics for personal or medical use.

The vision system detects microscopic defects and then these defective components can be laser marked on the roll for identification in-line. This step is critical to improving yields on the ultra-thin conductive layer used on a wide variety of commercial and consumer electronics. Yield is improved as customers get data to correct problems upstream. Laser characterization of defects combined with data capture provides precise detail on the percentage of acceptable components delivered per roll of material.

"The roll-to-roll system with integrated testing and vision inspection also allows companies to reduce the waste that occurs when extremely thin materials are handled. Single-function test equipment requires handling of sensitive panels with the potential for more damage," said Mark Wegner, CEO of Northfield Automation Systems. "The roll-to-roll system is a high speed test and defect identification process with minimal handling and fully controllable material transport throughout the process. We're excited to bring this advancement to the industry."

Northfield Automation Systems, a leader in sensitive material handling technology for flexible and rigid electronics, also designs and builds automated in-line vision inspection systems that can be customized to work within any product manufacturing process. Roll-to-roll test and vision systems include state-of-the-art cameras. Data collection and error marking is customized to each customer’s needs, along with testing and laser barcoding. The new in-line system is enclosed within a portable clean room that allows for safe loading and unloading of material.

High-end Vision Inspection

The company's vision inspection systems utilize multiple 16K line scan cameras to continuously inspect the product while still maintaining the resolution to find critical defects. These cameras currently identify defects smaller than 25 microns.
In-line inspection can identify a range of defects, including:
- Scratches and dents
- Stains and discolorations
- Over/under etching
- Over/under plating
- Opens and shorts
- Contaminants and particulates

Custom, Algorithm-based Metrology Solutions
Beyond basic blob detection, the vision and characterization systems have the ability to conduct multi-factor, multi-step feature detection. The systems typically employ an algorithm-based process that collects important process data and enables multifaceted defect detection. This approach makes it possible to handle a complex series of inspections while allowing for the efficient forward movement of the web itself.

The algorithm-based vision inspection and characterization systems inspect multiple points of interest on a web, record and examine the data, and then overlap and stitch the image, providing both a macro and micro record of the inspection.

Electrical Testing and Laser Barcoding
Combining vision inspection with electrical testing and laser barcoding allows for a complete testing environment. The combination of visual defect testing, electrical defect testing and characterization through laser barcoding gives manufacturers a complete snapshot of the product before it's sent to the customer.

The characterization tools log and report extensive amounts of data, providing information to manufacturing and supply chain management that can be used to improve production processes and monitor performance. When the characterization tool identifies quality issues or defects, production can be immediately stopped. This reduces costs incurred from continued processing of defective devices and results in higher yields.

For more information on roll-to-roll test and vision systems, visit or call 507-645-5501.

About Northfield Automation Systems
Northfield Automation Systems, Inc. ( designs, engineers and fabricates automation machinery for Original Equipment Manufacturers, high-volume manufacturers and manufacturers of sensitive products that require precision or controlled handling. A leader in turnkey solutions, Northfield Automation System's machinery ensures product quality, maximizes efficient throughput, delivers meaningful data outputs and is user-friendly for operators.


Christine Tsang - for Northfield Automation Systems

Submit new products, case studies/projects, and other press releases at and