Common PCB Assembly Failure Modes (2023)

Printed circuit boards are integral components in all electronics from medical devices and wearables to satellites and airplanes. This is why understanding the causes of PCB failure and how to avoid them are critical.

Typically, the most common causes of PCB failures can be attributed to:

Component Design Failure: Incorrect placement of components, power failure, and overheating due to lack of space on the PCB, are just a few examples of things that can go wrong at the design and manufacturing stage. Related Issues:

(Video) PCB Failure Analysis | FT-IR Microscopy | Electronics

  • Soldering Issues
  • Chemical (Fluid) Leakage
  • Component Barrier Breakage
  • Bad Component Placement
  • Burned Components

Poor Quality Components: Closely placed traces and pathways, bad soldering to cold joints, poor connectivity between circuit boards, insufficient board thickness, and use of counterfeit components are common examples of inferior PCB quality. Related Issues:

  • Material Defects
  • Bending and Breaking

Environmental Factors: Exposure to heat, dust and moisture, accidental impact (drops and falls), and power overloads/surges can be causes of circuit board failure. However, the most damaging cause of premature circuit board failure is electrostatic discharge (ESD) at the assembly stage. Related Issues:

(Video) The Art of Failure Analysis of Printed Circuit Boards PCBs and Electronic Component

Age: Failures caused by age cannot be avoided, but the costs of replacing components can be controlled by swapping old parts for new ones; which is more cost-effective than new PCB assembly.

  • Thermal Stress

Resolving PCB Failure

A majority of failure issues can be addressed through rework after thorough inspection and analysis. However, the best way to reduce the risk of PCB failure issues is to partner with an experienced PCB assembly company. Our team is more than happy to provide you with answers and a resolution for your product.

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If you’re not sure how you would like to proceed and would like additional information, tell us about your project and a Green Circuits representative will follow up with you to discuss your options.

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(Video) Avoiding the Most Common PCB Failure Modes


What are the common PCB assembly defects? ›

According to industry statistics, the top 3 PCB assembly defects which account for 74% of all manufacturing defects are Opens, Solder bridging, and Component shift. Open Solder Joints, occurs when there is no bonding between the lead and pad, or other point of connection on a PCB, causing an open connection.

What are the failure modes for circuits? ›

Circuit failure modes include loss of motive power, loss of control, loss of or false indication, open circuit conditions (e.g., a blown fuse or open circuit protective device), and spurious operation.

How many modes are there for PCB fabrication? ›

This typically includes three stages: design, manufacturing and testing.

What is PCB failure analysis? ›

PCB failure analysis is a systematic approach taken to identify the root cause of failures. The steps involved may leverage technologies and tools to zoom in on factors that lead to the problems and provide input for PCB designers for remedial actions.

How do you know which component is bad PCB? ›

Visual Inspection: Visual inspection is the most common type of inspection during PCB assembly. Specific equipment for conducting visual inspection can be done on the basis of inspection targets. Reflow solder joints on a PCB are commonly inspected using a prism which helps in identifying various manufacturing defects.

What are two common problems when troubleshooting a circuit board? ›

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) are two issues that are common on PCBs.

What are the 7 types of PCB testing methods? ›

7 PCB Testing Methods You Need to Know
  • In-circuit testing.
  • Flying probe testing.
  • Automated optical inspection (AOI)
  • Burn-in testing.
  • X-Ray inspection.
  • Functional testing.
  • Other functional testing (solderability, contamination, and more)
Jun 13, 2022

What is the lifespan of a PCB? ›

On average, PCBs get about 50-70 years of use, under the right conditions. Be sure to follow all of the manufacturer's recommendations that are included in their terms of use. Let's learn more about the factors that impact the shelf life of assembled PCBs and how you can make yours last longer.

What are the 4 modes of failure? ›

For mechanical devices, there are four Failure Mechanisms: corrosion, erosion, fatigue and overload. While those Failure mechanisms exists many places in nature, they may or may not be present in the specific working environment of an asset.

What are the three basic modes of failure? ›

Examples of failure modes are: Ductile fracture. Brittle fracture. Fatigue fracture.

What are examples of failure modes? ›

Failure mode – common ones

The user did not operate the machine, for example, at the right time. The user did not cease operation at the right time. Something went wrong while the machine was in operation. There was a degradation in the machine's capability.

What are the failure modes of PCB reliability? ›

Common PCB Failures During Manufacturing

Incomplete or Over-etching. Improper Copper Weight. Solder Flux Corrosion. Broken Solder Joints.

How many times can you reflow a PCB? ›

Q: How many times can you reflow a PCB? The general expectation is three times: once for the top side, once for the bottom side, and once for rework. The ultimate limitation comes from the formation of brittle intermetallics between the copper pad and the tin in the solder.

What are the 3 methods of PCB designing? ›

PCB Manufacturing Process

Step 1: Print from File to Film. Step-2: Patterning or Etching. Step-3: Photoengraving.

What is the failure rate of PCB? ›

For PCB-B component failures count for only 25% of field failures. The second largest failures is Others (i.e. No-Failure-Found or NFF), which is 25% for all field returns on average.

How do you trace a PCB fault? ›

How to Diagnose Problems With a PCB
  1. Identify the problem with the use of a VI instrument. The alternating voltage is used to test the unidentified pin count.
  2. The next step is to identify the location of the problem. This requires examinations at a microscopic level to find the troubled elements.

What are the common types of failures in IC's? ›

Leakage, contact damage, gate oxide rupture, and resistor-metal interface damage are all forms of ESD-induced damages. These defects often happen when people or other equipment mismanages devices during IC manufacture, transportation, and application.

How do you know if your PCB is shorted? ›

Look for Signs of Burnt Components

A short circuit may result in some components getting burnt. A cracked IC, blown capacitor, or the familiar acrid smell of burnt components are all telltale signs that a short circuit is close by. Locate and remove the damaged component and investigate traces connected to it.

How do you know if a capacitor is bad on a circuit board? ›

Use the multimeter and read the voltage on the capacitor leads. The voltage should read near 9 volts. The voltage will discharge rapidly to 0V because the capacitor is discharging through the multimeter. If the capacitor will not retain that voltage, it is defective and should be replaced.

What are major problems have you faced in your PCB design? ›

Most Common PCB Problems and Possible Solutions
  • Design flaws. Poor PCB design can lead to open circuits, short circuits and heat damage. ...
  • Soldering flaws. ...
  • Component failure. ...
  • Age and physical damage. ...
  • Testing to find PCB problems.
Aug 12, 2020

What are the five 5 techniques of troubleshooting? ›

You're systematic approach to troubleshooting should involve five basic steps;
  • Information Gathering.
  • Analysis and Planning.
  • Implementation of a solution.
  • Assessment of the effectiveness of the solution.
  • Documentation of the incident.

What are the three most common circuit problems? ›

The Three Most Common Electrical Issues
  • #1) You Have Circuit Breaker Problems.
  • #2) Your Electricity Surges, Sags, or Dips.
  • #3) Your Home Has Scarce or Dead Outlets.

What are the 6 basic troubleshooting techniques? ›

Identify the problem; establish theory of probable cause; test the theory; establish a plan of action and implement it; verify system functionality; and document everything.

What are the 6 common test techniques? ›

The common test techniques are: multiple choice, Yes/No and True/False, short answer, gap filling items.

What are the four 4 types of systems tests? ›

There are four main stages of testing that need to be completed before a program can be cleared for use: unit testing, integration testing, system testing, and acceptance testing.

What are the 5 testing methods? ›

There are many different types of testing, but for this article we will stick to the core five components of testing:
  • 1) Unit Tests. ...
  • 2) Integration/System Tests. ...
  • 3) Functional Tests. ...
  • 4) Regression Tests. ...
  • 5) Acceptance Tests.
Jun 6, 2017

How many times can you solder a PCB? ›

There is no fixed number or even simple calculation for what you are asking. Most parts are not designed to be soldered on and off repeatedly. It's often a one and done and that's all the manufacturer will test. Some pcbs will self destruct if you look at them wrong.

Can a damaged PCB be repaired? ›

Luckily, it's possible to repair or remanufacture boards to make them like new again. This does one of two things. Either the board in question can be returned to its original device, making it function again. Or, it can be used in a completely different device, as a form of recycling if you will.

What is the most common failure mode? ›

5.2 Creep. One of the most common failure modes in plastics is “creep,” the deformation of a viscoelastic (or viscoplastic) material under sustained stress.

What is the most common type of failure? ›

In materials science, fatigue – the weakening of a material caused by cyclic loading resulting in progressive, brittle, localized structural damage – is the most common failure mode and the one that generally produces other types of failure.

How do you identify failure modes? ›

  1. Step 1: Identify potential failures and effects. The first FMEA step is to analyze functional requirements and their effects to identify all failure modes. ...
  2. Step 2: Determine severity. Severity is the seriousness of failure consequences of failure. ...
  3. Step 3: Gauge likelihood of occurrence. ...
  4. Step 4: Failure detection.

What are common cause failures examples? ›

Common Cause Failures (CCF) occur when multiple (usually identical) components fail due to shared causes. Typical examples of shared causes include impact, vibration, temperature, contaminants, miscalibration and improper maintenance.

What are dominant failure modes? ›

A state of plant where a planned or unplanned significant event or condition adversely affects, potentially affects or indicates degradation in the safety, security or environmental performance or operation of a facility.

What is the main cause of failure? ›

The main causes of failure in life are poor environmental influences, the wrong mindset, bad habits, and lack of motivation. All these reasons for failure can be addressed if you identify which ones apply to you and create a plan for removing them.

What is failure mechanism vs failure mode? ›

A Failure Mode is what gets your attention that the equipment is not in a normal state. A Failure Mechanism is the catalyst and physical path to failure. Equipment Failures have logical cause-and-effect relationships behind them.

What is the difference between functional failure and failure mode? ›

Traditionally, when we had problems with an asset, we used to say that it just failed. On the other hand, in RCM, we clearly differentiate between the functional failure (the machine is not delivering what it should) and the failure modes, which are the events that actually produce the failure.

How many types of failures are there? ›

For example a file created in word is different from a file created in a wave editing program. There are two types of files. There are Program files and Data Files.

What is MTBF for PCB? ›

Accurate reliability prediction for MTBF (mean-time-between-failures) is always desirable and anticipated before the new product is ramped up for customer shipment.

What is reliability failure mode? ›

Reliability is the ability to prevent failures in a system or product, implemented through proactive and reactive methods. FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) is a method used to evaluate the reliability of a system by analyzing each component for potential failures and impacts on the whole system.

What is defect in assembly? ›

Manufacturing Defect means an error or flaw in the physical assembly, construction or fabrication of an item, component or system. Sample 1.

Where are most defects formed in the PCBA process? ›

Top Six Common PCB Assembly Defects and How to Combat Them
  • Incomplete or incorrect bill of materials information.
  • Non-standard PCB footprints.
  • Automated assembly errors.
  • Defects in the soldering processes.
  • Incomplete test coverage of the circuit board.
  • Inadequate access for rework or final assembly.
Jun 24, 2021

What are the 3 types of defects? ›

The three types of product defects are outlined below.
  • Design Defects. A design defect occurs when the actual design of the product is faulty. ...
  • Manufacturing Defects. In contrast to design defects, manufacturing defects only affect certain units or batches of a product, rather than all products in a line. ...
  • Labeling Defects.
May 20, 2020

How many types of assembly defects are there? ›

The top three (3) assembly defects, accounting for up to three quarters of all defects (according to industry statistics) are solder opens, shorts (bridging) and placement misalignment (due to shifting).

Which are the major types of defects? ›

Table of Content
  • Types of Defects in Solids.
  • Stoichiometric Defect.
  • Schottky Defect.
  • Frenkel Defect.
  • Impurity Defects.
  • Non-stoichiometric Defects.
  • Metal Deficiency Defect.

What are the four basic circuit faults? ›

There are a total of four possible failures that can take place in an electrical circuit: an open circuit, high resistance, short-to-ground and short-to-power.

How do you troubleshoot a faulty PCB? ›

How to Test a Circuit Board
  1. Key Takeaways. A list of basic tools for circuit board testing. ...
  2. Start with a Visual Inspection. Look for burnt components during your visual inspection. ...
  3. Check the Power Module. ...
  4. Check the Input/Output Ports. ...
  5. Check Communication Ports.
Mar 17, 2022


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