electronics blog

Electronics Blog

Ensil Electronics Blog is where you can find up to date industry news, repair and maintenance tips and the latest in electronic technology. Updated regularly, this blog is a one-stop-shop for your reading enjoyment.

printed circuit board failure

MOST COMMON CAUSES OF CIRCUIT BOARD FAILURE

Printed circuit boards, or PCBs, are the driving forces behind almost everything we use today—smart phones, control panels for industrial machines, the display screens at fast food restaurants.  When a PCB fails, it disrupts both our personal and business lives.

The causes of printed circuit board failure can generally be linked to one of two factors: performance problems from environmental stresses, or performance problems originating from the design and manufacturing stage of the board’s production. Sometimes these failures happen after years and years of use, and sometimes the issues have been accidentally built into the board during its production, setting it up to fail even prior to its first use. Thankfully, due to the physical nature of the PCB, most issues are repairable.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS

Environmental problems occur when a printed circuit board is exposed to elements or situations that affect its performance. Variables like temperature, dirt and debris, and moisture are the most common performance hinderers, but accidental impacts (dropping, electrostatic discharge, crushing, etc) or power overloads from lightning strikes or power surges can also be severely detrimental to your circuit board. Not even the most expertly crafted circuit board stands a chance against an electrical fire! Elements like dirt will degrade your board in a gradual manner, corroding it and reducing its overall lifespan. High environmental temperatures, like those found on some manufacturing floors, will also degrade components.

Some of these issues (like burned out components) are easily spotted, but if your board is failing and the problem is not easily identified, it needs to be tested with diagnostic equipment to pinpoint the issue. Your repair technician can do this for you.

MANUFACTURE PROBLEMS

Human error is the root of all printed circuit board manufacturing problems. From misreading a schematic to mislabeling a component, there is a laundry list of problems that can present themselves during the design and manufacturing stages. Here’s a quick sample of some of the more commonly seen PCB manufacturing issues: components installed incorrectly or incorrectly placed; poor soldering causing cold solder joints; inappropriate board thickness leading to bending and breaking; poor insulation of traces causing a voltage arc, which can then char the board; traces and pathways accidentally placed too close to each other and “shorting out” the circuit; poor connectivity between board layers causing inefficient performance; and many, many more. Repair is by far the best option for your failed printed circuit board. Choosing repair over replacement is cost-effective, and is often the fastest way to have your PCB performing to its full potential once more. Opting to use a third party repair company is an attractive alternative to conventional repair channels. OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) are known for charging higher than average repair prices and cannot boast the fast turnaround times that third party repair services can.

Ensil is a world leader in electronics repair. Our highly skilled and highly trained engineers and our 30-plus years in business bring you fast, expert, cost-effective printed circuit board repair solutions. Take advantage of our massive OEM parts database and our military level secure facility. Visit www.ensil.com to get your free repair estimate.

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