Common Causes of PCB Failures & Repairs

Common PCB problem and solutions

Printed circuit board manufacturers make it possible to produce multi-layered PCB boards (up to 40 layers), depending on the complexity of the electronic circuit and the design features of the device. These high-resistant circuit boards have several benefits but are much more difficult to analyze and repair. Since it comes with a net of complex components, sometimes we may face several PCB board issues. PCB damage may have these causes:

  • Missing solder mask
  • Acid traps
  • Bad soldering
  • Copper too close to board edges
  • Faulty PCB footprints
  • Starved thermals
  • Dfm mistakes
  • Electromagnetic issues
  • Environmental factor

A lot of companies around the globe are facing concerns about PCB failure. These issues can lead to the following consequences, including: 

  1. Damage to the reputation of the manufacturer
  2. Delay in delivery
  3. Additional time and financial penalties, etc.

In this article, we will read about the most common printed circuit board problems and their solutions. After reading our article, we hope you will successfully avoid and fix PCB damage.

What Is PCB Failure?

PCB board connects multiple components through a complex network of circuits. Generally, PCB failure is the state in which a PCB malfunctions or stops working. PCB failures occur due to several reasons, such as:

  1. Design flaws
  2. Manufacturing defects
  3. Electrical shorts
  4. Open circuits
  5. Solder joint failures lead to system malfunctions.

Therefore, it is necessary to identify and fix such issues right away. Understanding the causes of PCB failure can help a company prevent such problems. Hence, it will help you to maintain your reputation as a professional PCB board manufacturer. 

What Are the Reasons for PCB Failure?

In PCB boards, small errors in design or manufacturing can result in PCB failure. According to KingSunPCB, PCB flaws are classified as follows:

Missing Solder Mask Between Pads

The solder mask is the top layer of the copper layer of the printed circuit board. Generally, it is positioned over the copper layer to avoid accidental contact between the copper traces and other metal, solder, or conductive objects.

On some circuit boards, a solder mask between pads may be absent. This results in solder bridges mistakenly forming between pins during the manufacturing process. As a result, it can consume more Copper than is required. This may result in:

  • Short circuit
  • Circuit board performance
  • Decreased corrosion protection

A common cause of such a problem is a design mistake, such as an undefined solder mask or a smaller board’s configuration. It can lead to pad holes that are too big for the smaller printed circuit board. Verify the design carefully before delivering it to the manufacturer to prevent this.

However, errors occur, so make sure your manufacturer is trustworthy and follows the correct DFM testing method. Simultaneously, the manufacturer can detect possible errors before they become major issues.

Acid Traps

This issue occurs when the traces join at a very sharp angle. Similarly, it can increase the chance that the etching solution is stuck or locked at these junctions. It results in traces being open-circuited and losing their connection to the targeted networks. 

In recent years, the chances of acid traps have been reducing as PCB board manufacturers are switching to photo-activated etching approaches.

Bad Soldering

During printed circuit board fabrication, errors in soldering can result in serious issues. Bad soldering happens when a fabricator uses less heat. It leads to cold soldering and causes PCB damage.

Furthermore, the PCB components can get damaged by moisture during the soldering process. As a result, PCB components can catch fire, and connections can get problematic. Nowadays, companies often use X-rays or visual inspections to find defective soldering.

Copper Too Close to Board Edges

Copper wiring needs to be secured at the proper distances from conductive components and its supporting base layer. 

When Copper has a thread too close to conductive metals or the edge of the circuit board, several design errors can occur, such as:

  • Exposed copper wires could cause short circuits and shocks when they come into contact.
  • Poorly insulated and mounted copper tracks are more exposed to plating voids, etc.
  • Copper wires that degrade quickly need to be replaced regularly.
  • Incorrectly placed printed circuit board copper wire issues.

Sometimes, incorrect PCB design for manufacturing (DFM) specifications result in improperly spaced copper tracks. To decrease this design risk, PCB designs should be carefully reviewed before buying from reliable manufacturers.

Faulty PCB Footprints

It is essential to check the BOM to make sure the suitable footprint is connected to the component. However, an in-depth inspection of this PCB footprint has to look beyond the BOM. Inspect to ensure this footprint has been developed correctly and according to the manufacturer’s data sheet and industry standards.

To make sure that components are attached and soldered to the printed circuit board correctly, it is also important to inspect its footprint pads.

Starved Thermals

Starved thermals arise when the copper plane where the thermal relief traces linked to a pad are not connected properly. 

Sometimes, an initial rule check can identify no issues with the via spacing, and the affected vias will be incorrectly separated from their designated copper pours. Generally, this kind of issue usually occurs when several vias are placed close together.

To fix this issue, it is usually best to change the thermostat. A professional and famous manufacturing company can easily find such harmful thermals and replace them before causing problems with the printed circuit board.

Electromagnetic Issues

General electromagnetic challenges are often caused by a PCB design error rather than an individual part or component failure. 

There are many ways in which these electromagnetic problems reveal themselves, such as:

  1. The PCB design has little ground plane area.
  2. The PCB design has sharp and acute angles.
  3. The absence of copper shielding decreases electromagnetic interference.
  4. Additional electromagnetic interference issues, which collectively lead to poor electrical conduction

In such a situation, you’ll need to change your circuit board.

Environmental Factors

Printed circuit boards are also subject to external factors. PCBs can expand due to heat and humidity, leading to warping and fractured soldered junctions. Therefore, PCB manufacturing usually takes place in a climate-controlled location with safe humidity levels.

A board that comes into contact with foreign debris can have adverse effects. Several components could get stuck in your assembly and lead to overheating, including:

  • Dust
  • Fibers
  • Liquid
  • Hair 

What Does PCB Repair and Remanufacturing Consist of?

The PCB Repair Services repairs electronic components and assemblies. Generally, the services include:

  • Circuit board design
  • Production
  • Circuit board testing and repair
  • Distribution

Original equipment manufacturers regularly provide equipment and component maintenance.

What does PCB Repair Consist Of?

There are many ways to repair a printed circuit board, and each issue demands expertise in the relevant field. However, most tasks with the internal workings of electronics require some knowledge of the engineering field, mechanics, and basic electrical circuits.

Copper or silver material must be coated, removed, or replaced with traces. Similarly, it often involves tools like a soldering iron or heat gun.

Generally, we need PCB board repair when there is visible PCB damage. Baseboard repair is necessary. Furthermore, this can involve disassembling the board for modification.

For conductor and component repair, expertise and knowledge in soldering and BGA rework are sometimes necessary. If you’ve ever used a soldering iron, you know the importance of soldering for perfect application. 

Only an experienced company can ensure that components fit correctly on the printed circuit board.

Why is working with KingSunPCB Crucial for your PCB?

KingSunPCB is a leading PCB board manufacturer offering various circuit boards for different industries. Similarly, it offers comprehensive PCB assembly and circuit board manufacturing services.

Furthermore, it has highly trained engineers with vast industry expertise. They offer an extensive range of PCB components. The primary objectives of King Sun PCB include quality control and rapid turnaround time. 

The following factors have led to their success as the most popular printed circuit board remanufacturing service.

  • Experience team
  • Free DFM checking
  • Specialized in high-density, highly difficult technology
  • There is no minimum order requirement
  • Solution driver
  • Diversify PCB board manufacturing
  • Technical Support Online
  • Quick-turn Prototype PCBs 

Their main goal at KingSunPCB is to provide innovative, affordable solutions for all kinds of PCBs. Please feel free to ask for an online PCB fabrication quote. We will help you make the right choice.