Six Common PCB Issues and Repairs

October 25, 2021
Common PCB issues and repairs

As with any electronic component, printed circuit boards (PCBs) can be prone to having issues and requiring repair. While some of the problems that PCBs are prone to are fairly common (such as failing due to physical damage), other issues are more unique (such as trace damage).

We’ll be covering six of the most common PCB issues, and also explain how to repair them. These issues are:

  1. Physical damage.
  2. Component failure.
  3. Trace damage.
  4. Poor design.
  5. Power failure.
  6. Plating gaps.

While you can’t avoid every common PCB problem, one good way to help cut down on issues is to ensure you work with a reliable PCB manufacturer in Canada.

1. Physical damage

A PCB can be damaged when it is subject to any kind of physical pressure or shock. If the device it’s in is dropped or hit by another object, either of these actions can physically damage the PCB.

As long as the PCB is not damaged to the point of complete failure, it may be possible to repair it by disassembling it, fixing the damaged sections (e.g., re-soldering the components), and then reassembling it. This kind of work should only be done by a qualified PCB manufacturer in Canada.

2. Component failure

Another one of the most common causes of PCB failure is a faulty component. If a device that contains a PCB has no physical damage, but you cannot operate it, then it’s likely that you have an issue with PCB component failure.

A PCB has a variety of parts that can fail, from a diode to the microprocessor. Before taking apart a PCB to check where the issue is, testing can be done using voltage tools to examine the conductivity of a board’s circuit.

Depending on the severity of the failure, only the PCB component may need to be repaired or replaced, or the entire PCB may need to be replaced.

3. Trace damage

On a circuit board, traces are conductive pathways generally made of silver or copper. If a PCB has trace damage, you will usually be able to see this with the naked eye.

Trace damage can occur when a PCB is physically damaged or simply through normal wear and tear. If a PCB has trace damage, you’ll likely see issues with the printed circuit board’s conductivity. The reasons trace damage can occur vary from lightning strikes to dust contamination and severe power surges.

If a PCB has a faulty or damaged trace pathway, you will need to resolder or reball the board with the appropriate material (such as silver or copper). Once this is done, the broken circuit can reconnect, and electricity can now flow freely throughout the board.

4. Poor design

Unfortunately, not all printed circuit boards are designed and created equally. A poorly designed and constructed circuit board can lead to various failures, with the most common one being component failure.

One of the surest signs of a poorly designed board is the device using it constantly fails. There’s no easy way to fix this, but a PCB manufacturer in Canada may be able to help you by upgrading some of the components in the PCB as necessary.

5. Power failure

Another issue that can cause a PCB to stop working is a power failure, meaning power is not flowing to some or all of the board. There are various causes for a power failure, such as components being exposed to a higher voltage than usual or a trace failure causing a short.

Regardless of the cause, a professional repair team at a Canadian PCB manufacturer will use a voltage meter to identify what is causing issues with your PCB. The repair team can then reseat or replace components as necessary.

6. Plating gaps

Electricity passes from one end to the other of a PCB through holes coated with copper, commonly called plated thru-holes. PCB manufacturers in Canada use fabricator drills to create these by puncturing holes in the surface of circuit boards. Then, electroplating happens where each hole is lined with copper.

If errors happen at any stage during this process, there can be gaps in the plating. The PCB then won’t work because electricity won’t pass through the holes. This can render the PCB worthless.

One possible way to fix this is to redo the electroplating. However, it’s best to avoid this problem in the first place by making sure your PCBs are made by a reputable PCB manufacturing company in Canada.

Why should I choose Circuits Central as my Canadian PCB manufacturer?

At Circuits Central, we’re a leading Canadian PCB manufacturer that offers a variety of services:

  • Printed circuit board assembly
  • PCB prototyping and quick turn assembly
  • Schematic and PCB layout design
  • Product upgrades
  • Post-manufacturing testing and development
  • BGA reballing and repair services

At Circuits Central, we offer our upgrade and ECO services as either part of a production phase or as a post-production process. We are an industry leader in providing a quick turnaround on everything from repairs to upgrades and refurbishing.

In addition to our rework, upgrade, and ECO services, we can provide in-house X-ray inspection and BGA reballing and repair services. Reballing is a cost-effective solution to problems that can crop up with PCBs. With reballing, you do not need to repair the entire PCB; you can simply have the problem area fixed or replaced.

We’re Here to Help You With PCB Issues

Now you know some of the most common issues that can cause a PCB to stop working correctly. They are:

  1. Physical damage.
  2. Component failure.
  3. Trace damage.
  4. Poor design.
  5. Power failure.
  6. Plating gaps.

At Circuits Central, we’re a leading-edge Canadian PCB manufacturing company that offers a variety of services. If you’re running into issues with your printed circuit boards, we can help you with our extensive upgrade, reballing, and repair services.

Contact Us

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you with PCB issues and repair, give us a call at 1 (888) 821-7746 or contact us online.

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