How to Confirm Printed Circuit Board Integrity

As consumer expectations for functionality continue to grow, many PCB designers and manufacturers are asking – what can we add or improve to make PCBs do more? This has resulted in more PCB layers, smaller sizes, more components, buried and blind vias, and a long list of other technology advancements that enable a world full of incredible devices that were only a dream until recently.

These advancements are a great stride forward but how do manufacturers confirm printed circuit board integrity in a market that is constantly evolving? There are two key steps that help confirm PCB integrity: a robust design and a thorough testing program.

A Robust PCB Design

Printed circuit board integrity starts with a good design that can be successfully manufactured. This sounds simple but the importance of a robust PCB design cannot be overstated.

Design for Manufacturing (DFM) is the process of designing an electronic for ease of manufacturing as well as a creating a better, more cost-effective product. DFM is a vital product-development step that looks to simplify and optimize the design to ensure high quality and efficiency during production along with PCB integrity once in the field. The goal of DFM is to reduce manufacturing costs and avoid costly disruptions without sacrificing quality or performance.

DFM saves OEMs significant time and money. Companies are often in a rush to get a new PCB to market so it is tempting to shorten – or even skip – the DFM process. However, it is important to keep in mind that changes to the PCB design often become exponentially more expensive and time-consuming to implement as the product advances through the life-cycle. A thorough DFM upfront will allow optimizations to be made or integrity issues to be resolved before the changes significantly impact the project timeline or budget – helping to confirm the integrity of the printed circuit board.

A Thorough PCB Testing Program

The second step toward confirming PCB integrity is a thorough testing program. PCBs are comprised of several complex components, each of which impacts the overall performance of the board. These components must be tested for any signs of faults or issues that could cause the board to malfunction or not work to its full potential. In the case of PCBs, a quality testing program assesses the functionality and integrity of the individual parts such as capacitors, resistors, transistors, diodes, and fuses as well as overall performance metrics such as electrical conductivity and mechanical strength. The board layout is also examined to ensure the various components are oriented correctly and soldering was performed properly.

Thorough testing is an integral aspect of printed circuit board manufacturing. There is always the potential for manufacturing defects or human error during fabrication and assembly – and testing is the checkpoint to catch these problems. The use of testing to identify and resolve quality issues is critical to the performance, functionality, and reliability of the final product. The time and effort required to test the integrity of a PCB or other electronic product is well worth it. Testing procedures for PCBs and other electronics must be established to reduce the potential of failure or malfunction in the field as well as maintain customer satisfaction and retention.

RiverSide Integrated Solutions (RIS) specializes in PCB testing and assembly, and our expertise and breadth of testing options are two reasons we stand out from the competition. Continue reading for more details about our printed circuit board testing program and the specific tests we perform.

Looking for a partner with robust and thorough PCB testing and assembly processes?
Contact the professionals at RIS to learn about our commitment to PCB integrity and our proven test methods.

RIS Product Testing Capabilities

RIS provides full circuit board and electromechanical assembly testing capabilities – including testability recommendations, test development, and test execution. We perform circuit board assembly testing, system-level integration testing, and thermal and mechanical stress testing depending on product requirements. We use assembly testing to confirm product quality and functionality to provide a means of monitoring the critical stages of our manufacturing process. Specific to circuit boards, our assembly and testing services include the following test procedures:

  • Flying probe: highly-effective test method for low-volume to mid-volume production, as well as prototypes and boards that can pose access difficulties.
  • In-circuit test: with an incorporated functional in-circuit test software and in-system component programming, we are able to probe printed circuit boards to examine shorts, opens, resistance, capacitance, and other detailed information about the assembly.
  • Manufacturing defect analyzer: as a secondary in-circuit test, the MDA operates as a diagnostics tool to reveal any defects in manufacturing and components.
  • Functional test: designed and built in-house, our functional test software assesses the functionality of an application, basing results and case information on the software component of an assembly. Our test system capabilities include C++ programming and Visual Basic.
  • Burn-in chambers: with temperature and humidity cycling, environmental stress screening, and product life assessment, our burn-in chambers place assemblies into service simulation that forces failures to occur. This test reveals weaknesses and load capacities and is especially effective in evaluating the reliability of high-density semiconductor devices, burn-in printed circuit boards and large capacity screenings.
  • Automated optical inspection: our AOI machines test boards and panels to communicate errors quickly, consistently, and accurately to the operator.

Contact us today at (507) 523-3220 to see how we can help with your next project, or click here for a quote.

How to Confirm Printed Circuit Board Integrity
Article Name
How to Confirm Printed Circuit Board Integrity
A robust PCB design and a thorough PCB testing program are two key ways to confirm printed circuit board integrity.
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RiverSide Integrated Solutions
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