Equipment unique to surface mounting includes inspection and repair / rework equipment. Inspection equipment for surface mounting in electronics has not matured yet. There are two main types of automated inspection equipment on the market: x-ray and laser. However, most electronic companies depend on visual inspection at 2 to 10X, using either microscope of magnifying lamp.
Repair / Rework equipment and electronic PCB assembly tools and equipments use conductive tips or hot air for removal and replacement of electronic components. Conductive tooling, such as soldering iron tip attachments, is very inexpensive. The tips come in different configurations for different electronic components but have limited applications.
At a slightly higher cost, there are other conductive tips with built-in heating elements.
At a much higher cost, hot air repair / rework tools are available that use nozzles of different sizes for components of different types and sizes. The hot air repair tooling is most commonly used for surface mounting in SMT because it is ideal for damage-free repair. (Check: SMD Soldering, BGA Soldering and Rework).
Even in-line (and expensive) repair systems are available on the market. However, when selecting repair / rework equipment, electronic companies must keep in mind that repair / rework tooling does not need to be an automated, expensive in-line system designed for high volume repair. If a large number of boards is to be repaired, automated repair equipment is not the answer. Instead, the process should be controlled to keep the defect rate low.