Frequent Causes of PCB Failure by Poor PCB Design

Technology in our world is becoming more inundated into every day life. New electronic products are being developed and older technologies are being improved. Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are an integral part of these products. Technologies are becoming increasingly complex and dense in smaller footprints. This can lead to manufacturability problems due to a poorly designed board.

A PCB failure with a burned IC

In general, the most frequent causes of failure in a PCB include:

Component Failure

Components can fail for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons why poor PCB design practices can cause the failure:

  • Incorrect component footprints
  • Parts placed too close to each other causing solder bridging
  • Not properly using thermal relief making it difficult to solder parts
  • Placing heat generating parts at the edge, causing a buildup of heat
  • Not orienting SMD parallel to the direction of wave soldering causing shorts or open connections

Routing Failures

Poorly routed traces can also cause failures. Here are some reasons why:

  • Incorrect trace widths creating heat buildup
  • Traces too close to others with an unintentional connection
  • Right angle traces with the outer edge too narrow or not fully etched leading to shorts
  • Inefficient routing strategies resulting in connection and/or compliance issues

A PCB with right angle traces showing the different trace widths

Avoiding PCB Failure

An easy way to avoid these types of failures after PCB manufacturing is to incorporate design for manufacturability from the very beginning of the process. Considerations need to be made in the design specification, the schematic design, the creation of PCB footprints, and the PCB layout. This requires that the engineers and designers have expert knowledge of how PCBs are fabricated and assembled. They can then use that knowledge to optimize designs for manufacturing. This process can eliminate or reduce the chances of failures occurring, decreasing cost and improving time to market. 911EDA PCB designers have all trained extensively on these types of considerations.

Fixing PCB Failures

911EDA can also help to fix the causes of PCB failures. We can test the boards to find the source. We can also review the design to find what is causing the failure. Once we determine what the problem is, our engineers and designers can make the necessary changes so your board will function as expected.

If you are facing issues such as these, tell us about your PCB failures and we will contact you to discuss.