PCB Manufacturing

PCB Manufacturer Guide: Common Failure Modes and Solutions

PCB Manufacturers

Looking for the best PCB manufacturer to help you overcome the most common failure modes? Here’s all you need to know!

PCBs form the basics on which electronics depend for power in most of today’s gadgets. From simplistic devices to sophisticated industrial machines, circuit boards are integral for seamless functionalities. Nevertheless, just like any other product, PCBs can be subjected to malfunctions at times. These failures can be classified into two main categories: defects can be classified based on whether they are caused during production or once the product has been delivered to a customer.

In this comprehensive guide, we shall discuss the usualprinted circuit board failure modes, the reasons thereof, and how to overcome and prevent them.

Common Failure Modes

There are two common failure modes: failure during PCB manufacturing and failure in the usage field after delivery. Here, we talked about them in detail.

During Manufacturing

PCB manufacturing is highly complex and sensitive, with many chances of errors creeping up. A failure by a PCB manufacturer to execute the designer’s commands strictly may result in catastrophes. Let’s explore some of the common failure modes associated with PCB manufacturing:

  1. Open and Short Circuit: Apparently, a printed circuit board with an open or short circuit can not achieve the function of any electronics product. Although PCB suppliers should have done 100% open/short tests, very minor connections which caused short may not be detected, or circuit boards with open/short problems are mixed into good boards.
  2. Poor Soldering: Sometimes, PCB assembly manufacturing does not solder the electronic components in good condition, such as too little or too much solder, which may lead to serious problems in the usage field.
  3. Inadequate Insulation: Ensuring that there is appropriate insulation between metal traces is perhaps one of the most critical areas in printed circuit board production. On the other hand, poor insulation can be disastrous. A few examples are where the other trace carries on having low tension current such as in the case of a high voltage passing through one trace but forming an arc leading to destruction of the entire system.
  4. Inadequate Inspections and Tests: Quality control is accomplished in PCB manufacturing using many tests. Such as microsection and inspection, we need to cut a piece of PCB and check the layers under a microscope. Also, heat and cold tests, vibration tests, ageing tests, etc., to ensure that the circuit boards can work perfectly under extreme conditions.  This thorough testing and inspection enables every PCB manufacturer to make sure that their PCBs are up to standard and that any arising faults in the future can be identified.
PCB manufacturing

PCB manufacturing

In the Usage Field After Delivery

PCBs can also fail following the completion of manufacture and, mainly, as a result of poor treatment which they receive out in the field. Moreover, even simple circuit boards may turn fatal during their use just a few weeks later. PCB China manufacturers are known to serve excellent quality! Several external factors, such as environmental conditions, mechanical stress, and electrical overloading, can contribute to these failures:

  1. Environmental Factors: The performance of PCBs is easily destroyed by exposure to harsh weather elements like rain, high humidity, hot sun, or corrosive materials. Premature failures are attributable to these environmental stresses.
  2. Mechanical Stress: Mechanical problems may arise in circuit board joints due to exposure to extreme mechanical pressures, such as vibration, bending, or impact.
  3. Electrical Overloading: High current electricity and voltage passed through circuit boards can cause malfunction or destroy their parts.
  4. Design Errors: Performance defects in printed circuit board may be caused by insufficient PCB widths or wrong routing errors.
  5. Electromagnetic Interference/Compatibility (EMI/EMC): Malfunctions of the printed circuit board may be triggered by incompatibilities due to electromagnetic interference (EMI), or electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).

Important Reasons for PCB Malfunction

Knowing the underlying issues of PCB’s failures are critical while devising successful control measure. Here are the vital factors that contribute to the failure of circuit boards:

  • Defects Related to PCB Bare Board: There may be minor issues that are not detected by PCB manufacturers. For minor connections between copper traces, it can pass the electronic test but may fail in final testing after assembling electronic components.
  • Defects Related to PCB Assembly and Soldering: Inappropriate soldering techniques may cause intermittent connectivity in a printed circuit board. These problems are often avoided by ensuring good soldering of the components.
  • Different Usage Environment: Although PCB manufacturers will do thorough inspections and tests before delivery, they still cannot 100% simulate the usage environment, such as heat, cold, vibration, humidity, etc.
  • Machinery Failures: Such include defects in equipment, spikes on the line, and aging devices that lead to a failure in manufacturing hence leading to circuit board failures.
  • Environmental Factors: Thus, circuit boards affected by unfavorable atmospheric elements like raindrops, high levels of moisture, and degrading substances (intense sunlight, corrosives) have higher chances of degrading performance capacity.
  • Mechanical Stress: Mechanical failure of a circuit board joint due to excess mechanical stress arising from vibrational, bending, or shock activity.
  • Electrical Overloading: Directing PCBs to high-current electrical power will result in interruption of operations and components of damaged circuit boards.
  • Design Errors: PCB errors are likely to affect the quality of circuit board operations since mistakes associated with incorrect trace widths and routing do happen.
  • EMI/EMC Interference: Malfunctioning of printed circuit boards can be traced back to non-conformity matters concerning EMI and EMC.

PCB testing

How to Fix PCB Errors

The strategy for preventing common PCB failures. Here are some effective strategies to fix errors related to PCBs:

  • Application of High-Quality Materials: However, quality is crucial for PCB China manufacturers. Ensure that you use materials like metals which have excellent heat conductivity, good electrical properties, and are highly weather-resistant. The type of materials used greatly affects PCB’s reliability, and if high-quality ones are used it enhances the reliability.
  • Verify the Designs: Conduct thorough pre-production testing of design aspects. Preventing common problems such as signal integrity problems high spots of thermal build up and lack of space.
  • Use Thermal Management Measures: Ensure appropriate thermal management methods are employed to prevent excessive heating. The use of heat sinks, thermal vias, and appropriate placement of these elements would be some of these measures that could assist in adequate cooling.
  • Select Proper Components: Choose good quality parts that can endure specified voltages, conditions, and electrical flows. Compatibility with a PCB is necessary for the long-term reliability of components.
  • Proper Handling of Components: However, pay much attention during production and the initial startup so that an unexpected environmental factor or a simple failure does not cause unintentional electrical damage.
  • Assembling of Iterative Parts: Conduct a prototype; it should entail testability of the PCB as well as predictable problems in the draft step. The cyclic approach is intended to enhance the layout of the project as well as its reliability.
  • Taking Proper Action: Investigate failures to identify their basis, as well as suitable strategies to avoid future PCB failures. Continuous improvement requires learning from past mistakes.
  • Carrying Out Detailed Testing: Conduct thorough testing and examination in different stages of circuit board making by PCB China manufacturers. For instance, there are procedures like ICT functional tests and visual inspections that can pinpoint faults before they result in a breakdown.
  • Regular Maintenance: Ensure systematic processes for the management of deployed systems. Such a proactive process enables early detection of problems that can be prevented from blowing up to massive failures.
  • Only Use reliable PCB manufacturers: This is the most important factor. A reliable PCB manufacturer can help you minimize the risk of failure with expertise in the supply chain, production experience, engineering support, and after-sales support.


Finally, the most important factor is to cooperate only with reliable PCB manufacturers. This is the most important factor. A reliable PCB manufacturer can help you minimize the risk of failure with expertise in the supply chain, production experience, engineering support, and after-sales support. As long as you keep these things in mind, you should be able to optimize your PCBs’ performance and quality!

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