3 Mistakes That Can Happen When Manufacturing PCBs

Prototype pcb assembly

Printed circuit boards can be used for a variety of reasons and have varying levels of computational capabilities. Cell phones, computer monitors, televisions, and even some light switches can contain PCBs. The simplest printed circuit board can have only one copper layer with tracks and pads that connect with each other, which suits them for low-level computation.

Some PCB prototypes, however, can be made up of as many as 36 copper layers. These layers are in addition to the custom PCB’s substrate, soldermask, and the silkscreen that lies on top of it all, to map out each component’s function for the sake of easier electronics production.

With so many layers, the potential for mistakes is high, and those mistakes can result in short circuiting or complete circuit board failure. Here are some things that can go wrong when manufacturing PCBs:

Flex-cracking: Since the ceramic capacitors are hard, yet more brittle than the PCB, and do not possess elastic qualities, they can be easily stressed, and therefore cracked. Any bending of the board itself can be stressful on the capacitor, and the stress is therefore transmitted through any soldered joints.The ceramic piece then receives the transmission and fights the stress, often resulting in a crack. Being more careful and attentive during the PCB assembly process can usually minimize cracking. Using a smaller capacitor can also help fix this issue.

Power Shortages: An engineer should be in the habit of double checking the electricity of the board between each stage of development. An electrical shortage can disrupt the board’s ability to function — even if only one connection is flawed. Visual inspections and cold tests of the circuits capability are important to monitor it’s progress during the building stage.

Mechanical issues: Discrepancies in part sizing can be problematic when time comes to assemble the circuit board. When component of the board do not fit together, the board will not be properly assembled. Sometimes the parts of the board will be too close to solder, requiring the manufacturing process to be extended. The dimensions of the circuit board should be double checked preceding the first step of PCP fabrication to make sure there is ample room between each layer, pad, and track.

These common issues can affect the cost, quality, and timeline of printed circuit board manufacturing, as well as complicating the already complex process going into PCB fabrication. Engineers should always be sure to double (or triple) check their cork in order to ensure the proper construction of the circuit board.

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