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Common Failure Modes Associated With Prototype Assembly

Failure Modes Associated With Prototype Assembly

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are vital components in everything from medical devices and wearables to satellites and airplanes. Because of this, PCBAs must operate reliably and efficiently over their intended lifespans. However, these electronic boards are susceptible to a variety of failure modes that can compromise functionality and safety.

Fortunately, these failures can be avoided with proper inspection and testing techniques. Whether you’re a designer looking to avoid the most common PCB assembly defects or an industrialist tasked with preventing these failures at the factory level, FS Technology has the information to help. In this blog post, we’ll explore the most common PCBA failure modes while sharing tips for preventing them in the future.

The most common PCB assembly defects are related to soldering and component failure. Soldering errors include solder bridging, cold solder joints, solder balling, and lifted pads. These defects can cause poor connectivity and short circuits. Component failures can occur due to manufacturing defects, aging, or environmental pressures like excessive heat or electrical spikes.

Most common PCB assembly failures can be prevented with quality PCB materials, extensive design verification, and a solid understanding of how your product will perform in the real world. To prevent these issues, start by choosing the right PCB materials based on temperature requirements, conductivity, and electrical characteristics. Then, use design verification tools to identify potential problems such as signal integrity concerns and clearance violations. Finally, make sure that your product is designed with production in mind by utilizing DFM (design for manufacture) practices to ensure the layout is efficient and the components will fit together properly.

Common Failure Modes Associated With Prototype Assembly

Another common cause of PCB failure is improper handling and storage of components. In addition to exposing components to environmental hazards, these handling errors can also lead to electrostatic discharge (ESD), which can damage delicate electronic parts. To prevent this, partner with an ECM that offers safe handling and storage procedures.

It’s also a good idea to perform visual inspections of your PCBs during the prototype assembly process. These inspections can help identify many defects, including soldering flaws and rework issues. Visual inspections are especially important before and after blind assembly steps and before any painting or anodizing processes. They can also highlight small hiccups like mishandling that might not be obvious to an eyeball.

Finally, make sure your CM performs an X-ray of each unit to detect hidden defects such as shorts below BGAs and unpopulated configuration resistors. This step is often overlooked and can save your team a lot of headaches down the road. If your CM does not offer this service, consider hiring one of the local X-ray services available in the area to ensure that you’re getting the most accurate and thorough inspection possible. Using a visual and X-ray inspection of your units can help you avoid costly production delays down the road. So don’t skip these critical steps — they’ll be worth it in the long run. And remember, it’s always better to catch any issues early on, rather than waiting until you’re stuck with a defective product that requires expensive repairs and recalls.

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