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3 Strategies for Effective Rework & Repair of PCB’s

The manufacturing of printed circuit boards, or PCB’s, has proven to be a rapidly growing aspect of the assemblies’ industry. As indicated by an increase in the PCB’s book-to-bill ratio, demand, as of August 2017, is currently exceeding the supply of PCB’s. With a shortage in supply emerges a new opportunity for businesses within the industry. As opposed to purchasing new PCB’s or outsourcing repair on damaged boards, companies are now tackling the problem themselves.

PCB’s are more complicated to repair today than they were just 5 years ago. While beginner-level soldering may be suitable for some fixes, other PCB’s may require expert-level attention. The surgery-like process of reworking and repairing PCB assemblies can seem daunting, but there are certain methods and tips that can be utilized to help facilitate the process and meet industry demand. Here are a few strategies that can help improve and streamline the process of reworking and repairing PCB’s:

1.) Storage and Handling

Handling, packaging, and storage are all important factors in maintaining the quality of a PCB. A lack of proper storage, packaging, and handling can lead to contamination, physical damage, solderability degradation and moisture uptake. When it comes to packaging, the materials that are used for transportation and storage should be checked to ensure that they will have no harmful effects on the board that they are intended to protect.

A common issue with PCB storage is the atmosphere. Things such as humidity, moisture, and temperature levels are all factors that can affect the quality of a PCB during the time it sits in storage. It’s recommended that humidity be kept below 65% and temperature remain relatively consistent to prevent unnecessary condensation build up. It is important to keep this atmosphere in check to ensure that the board does not become warped or contaminated in any way. Regarding storage, companies should adopt a “first in-first out” approach to decrease exposure to harmful conditions. Handling and transport are also important factors in PCB quality assurance. It is crucial to utilize proper methods when moving PCB’s from one location to another.

2.) Know Your Product

Does your PCB contain leaded or lead-free solder? Does your PCB utilize halogen-free resin? Does your PCB exhibit corrosion, and if so, where are the common corrosion points and what is the procedure for correction? Knowing every detail about your product is crucial to employing the right methods and reducing repair time. The materials that it is made from, common issues with your specific board, and where the board was initially manufactured are all important pieces of information to know in order to ensure a smooth rework and repair process. There are multiple modules with the IPC certification in rework and repair of PCB’s as well as correlated training provided on the subject that can help facilitate the process.

3.) Divide and Conquer

Depending on the extent of rework and repair needed, dividing the labor required on each board is a wise option as it can save a company time and money. It has long been known that assembly line manufacturing is a highly efficient way to piece together machinery. PCB’s are no different. By separating the steps required to complete each board, efficiency in production is increased and assembly error is decreased.

These are only a few of the many factors to keep in mind when looking to effectively repair or rework PCB’s. It is for that reason that we recommend you consult an expert on the matter by partnering with a qualified training provider like EPTAC. Enroll in a course at one of our many training centers around the country and let our experienced instructors help you or your company renew your certification and improve your skills today.

About EPTAC

For over 30 years, EPTAC has been a leading provider of solder training and IPC certification. We provide professionals with the tools and training they need to advance their careers and improve their businesses. With 14 locations across North America, our solutions and instructional staff provide an easy access to knowledge that will enhance your business model and help you meet and exceed industry demands. For more information call 800.643.7822 or contact us.