The Most Common PCB Defects and Its Solutions
There are many problems with PCBs, but some of them are less obvious than others. These problems are called implementation failures and require specialized knowledge to diagnose. For example, Electrostatic discharge, Chemical leakage, Lifted pads, and component shifting are all possible causes of failure. To identify the failure modes, a PCB must be stress tested until it fails.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is a common problem in electronic circuits. It results from the wrong handling of electronic components or an excessive voltage level. In many cases, the resulting damage is latent or catastrophic. This problem can cause a PCB to malfunction partially or completely.
There are several ways to detect and repair electrostatic discharge. While some of these are visible and will affect the performance of the product, others will not. The first method is to inspect the device to determine if any component is affected. In some cases, a minuscule hole will appear on the circuit board.
Chemical leakage in PCBs can be a problem for many industries. Although the United States banned the production of PCBs in 1977, they are still found in the environment at very low levels. Environmental cycling is the primary source of ambient PCBs, and they are transported throughout ecosystems. Although these contaminants have low levels, they can have serious effects on humans and the environment.
In addition to their use in electronics, PCBs were also used in the construction of school buildings during the 1950s to 1970s. Many schools had PCB-containing caulk and fluorescent light fixtures. The problem with these products was that they leaked, causing contamination in other building materials and the soil. This caused widespread contamination, which is why they were banned.
Lifted pads are caused by a number of causes, including excess heat and force during soldering. The result can be an unsatisfactory solder joint. These defects require re-soldering, and can lead to short circuit hazards. Other causes of lifted pads include pollutant contamination, poor cleaning, or insufficient flux. Lifted pads can affect the functioning of circuits and the appearance of the board.
Lifted pads occur most frequently on thin copper layers and boards that lack through-plating. Identifying the root cause of a lift is crucial for preventing further damage. In the case of single-sided circuit boards, the problem is often the result of improper wave soldering. The lift can be prevented by using extreme caution while handling PCBs and avoiding excessive force when handling components.
Component shifting is one of the most common defects encountered in PCB assembly. It can be caused by a number of factors, including the placement of components incorrectly. For example, a component placed in a way that is not oriented correctly may float, resulting in a realignment of the component.
In some cases, the cause of component shifting is due to mismatching of the parts to the pad geometry. This causes the component to move towards the thermal mass closest to it. Other causes include bent leads, improperly placed components, or oxidation. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions to component shifting. For instance, adhering to the correct reflow profile, reducing movement during the unreflowed assembly process, and using an aggressive flux can all help minimize component movement.
Soldering ball defects
Soldering ball defects are common in the SMT assembly process. They are essentially balls of solder that separate from the main body of the solder. To prevent them, you should adjust the mounting pressure on the chip mounter to a precise setting. This will prevent the solder paste from being squeezed out of the pad and increase the chance that the solder paste will be generated properly.
A good solder joint will be clean, symmetrical, and have a concave shape. On the other hand, a bad solder joint may be large and have a long stem. Another common defect is disturbed joints, which will have a flaky, distorted, or uneven appearance.
Thermal imaging is a powerful tool for quality control, speeding up PCB and component repairs. By identifying hot spots, thermal images can point out faulty components or areas that are using too much power. This information can help designers reduce power consumption and prolong battery life. Thermal imaging can also detect areas that have poor thermal management, requiring more cooling, larger heat sinks, or even redesign.
Thermal imaging for PCB defects can also help designers and engineers determine the cause of defects. When a test board fails to pass quality control tests, a thermal imager can reveal the problems. It can also show the differences in temperature between two different areas of a board, revealing how the two differ.