The causes of printed circuit board failure can be associated with one of two factors: performance problems from environmental factors or problems originating from the design and production stages by the flexible PCB manufacturers.
Environmental Factors that Can Damage Flexible Printed Circuit Boards
- Chemical fumes: Fumes from certain chemicals can be corrosive. If a PCB is stored in close proximity to cleaning solutions or other chemicals, the fumes may slowly eat away at the unit.
- Moisture: Moisture and humidity can destroy flexible PCB units. For example, a television can withstand a degree of water damage; however, if water crosses two channels on the PCB, it will cause a short. Mold can also grow in cold and damp areas, causing circuit failure.
- Static Electricity: Static electricity can do serious damage to printed circuit boards, particularly when these devices are in use. Always be sure that your project or storage area is free of any static-creating agents such as carpet or other types of fabric.
- Dust: Dust can act like insulation, reducing the efficiency of heat dissipation inside an electronic device. You can find dust damage in devices with open ventilation such as computers and televisions. Dust can also contribute to static electricity damage.
- Extreme Temperature: Cold temperatures can introduce condensation to an electronic device, harming the PCB unit. That is why it is never recommended to leave a laptop or smartphone in a cold car overnight. Heat can warp and ultimately destroy a PCB as well as the other metal and plastic components of an electronic device.
Errors in the Process of Manufacturing Flexible Printed Circuit Boards
No two PCB designs are the same. Each design is created upon receipt of specifications that meets the purpose of the product. Thus, human error is always a risk during the manufacturing process.
When it comes to producing printed circuit boards, manufacturing is a complex task. There are several opportunities to accidentally introduce a defect into the product; for example, if two metal traces are not insulated on a high-voltage board, an arc can occur, ultimately destroying the whole circuit.
As a consumer, you can’t necessarily control the factors that cause damage to electronic devices during their manufacturing, but you can take special care to ensure the proper maintenance of your electronic items. Keep the above environmental factors in mind when storing and using any device that has a flexible printed circuit board.