How to Ensure Reliability in Circuit Board

Reliability in Circuit Board

The ability of a Circuit board to hold up to operational stresses without rupturing or failing is one of the key factors in determining how well a finished product will work. Performing stress tests during the design process can help you identify weak spots in your designs so that they can be fixed before manufacturing. This approach, known as Design for Reliability (DfR), also helps minimize costly returns and customer complaints after your PCB has been deployed in the field.

Electrical stress testing is an important step in ensuring your PCB will perform as expected over its lifetime. This includes checking for a range of electrical parameters including dielectric breakdown voltage, track resistance, and capacitance. The results of these tests will inform your component selection and circuit layout decisions. Conducting these tests can be performed with Cadence’s suite of PCB circuit board design tools, allowing you to perform simulations to evaluate your PCB’s electrical stress capabilities.

Structural reliability refers to the ability of your board’s components to remain in place over the lifecycle of the product. For example, your PCB’s holes may experience ionic contamination from corrosion or other elements over time that affect performance. A standard test for this is to draw a harness range over the surface of your board and look for scratches. If your board is not free from ionic contamination, it will likely fail to meet structural reliability requirements.

How to Ensure Reliability in Circuit Board

Plating is an important component in your PCB’s overall durability, as it determines how your board will withstand thermal and electrical stress. The type of metal used in a layer can impact its conductivity and resistance to corrosion. During the manufacturing process, you can use plating techniques such as through hole and surface mount to connect your components and ensure they’re held in place permanently. During the assembly and inspection (AXI) process, defects such as shorts, excess solder, open, or voiding can degrade your PCB’s reliability. A wetting test for solder is an important part of this test, which measures how the liquid solder will interact with your board’s components.

The amount of heat your PCB generates and dissipates is another crucial factor in its operational reliability. Excessive heat can damage your components and cause them to operate erratically, while a lack of effective cooling can lead to thermal hotspots. Both thermal and electrical stress can be evaluated using simulations, which are easy to perform with Cadence’s PCB design software.

Taking all of these factors into account is a good way to ensure that your PCB will hold up to its intended use in the field. However, no single test method is comprehensive enough to guarantee the reliability of your final product. You can mitigate some of the risks by designing for reliability, following the guidelines in IPC-6012D Qualification and Performance Specification for Rigid and Flexible Printed Boards. You can also perform additional testing after the manufacturing process to ensure your board meets its performance criteria. This is called in-circuit test, and it involves physically measuring components and circuits on a working board.

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