3 Key Tips to Extend the Life of Your Printed Circuit Boards

printed circuit board repairsAs you probably know by now, printed circuit boards don’t last forever, even the very expensive ones inside your industrial equipment.   But did you know that you can extend the life of your circuit boards and potentially put off the need for circuit board repairs a little longer?

The number one reason printed circuit boards need repair is aging components.  There’s not much you can do about that.  The second biggest reason they end up in repair is damage caused by dirt, heat, moisture, and neglect/accidents.  Now THAT is something you can control.

Here’s 3 key tips to save money with good circuit board maintenance:

  1. Clean house. – Clean the dust that accumulates on the PCB boards every 3-6 months. You can also use special cleaning fluid designed for electronics. After all the dust and dirt is cleaned, use a blower to dry the boards before reinstalling them or using the equipment.
  2. Be Proactive – Why wait until your line goes down to troubleshoot…that’s just expensive down time with a side dish of aggravation. Regularly check your PCB components to look for obvious trace damage (usually caused by overheating). Look for burn marks, solder blobs, and broken traces. Check the electrolytic capacitors for bulging or leakage.  Anyone can do this as these are all obvious problems and require no test equipment.

Also, check connectors for signs of corrosion which is common especially with edge connectors. They can be gently cleaned with an eraser and soft, lint-free/static-free cloth.  Corrosion is a sign of excess moisture so to avoid future damage, find out where the moisture is coming from and eliminate it if possible.

If you are using a device coated with thermal grease, you should check to see if the thermal grease is dried.   If it has become overly dry, gently wipe it out and then coat with new thermal grease to aid with heat dissipation – especially important since we know that too much heat will result in damage.

  1. Protect your PCBs with Good Storage and Handling Techniques
  • Store your electronic equipment in Moisture Vapor Barrier Bags (MVBs). Thicker is better so buy the best you can afford. Vacuum and heat seal the bags to remove as much air as possible.
  • Use desiccant bags to absorb moisture and include a moisture/humidity card which can detect any moisture.   This will let you know if the storage bag has been compromised.
  • Keep your spare circuit boards at a consistent and cool temperature – between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit
  • If you have many circuit boards or other electronics stored, invest in the best moisture-free environment you can afford. Best choice is a Dry Atmosphere Cabinet to maintain a very low humidity (>5% Relative Humidity). By using this type of cabinet you can forego the MVBs.
  • Locate your electronics storeroom away from dirt, temperature extremes, and moisture, as well as excess vibration. It is best if you have a dedicated and secure Storeroom with strict access records on what parts come and go.

If your industrial circuit board has lasted a solid 10 years before failure – congratulations. You’re doing something right! But if the time has come for repairs and you find yourself searching for a repair center for your damaged electronics, check first to see if your equipment is still under warranty.  If it is still under warranty contact the OEM about repairs.

If it is out of warranty, contact an independent industrial electronic repair center to find out if they are a good fit for your company and your particular repair needs. They should offer free evaluations for your damaged equipment and, if needed, a free quote for repairs (no bench fees!).  They should also provide repair reports if requested and a good warranty of at least one year that covers both parts and labor.

 

About the Author: ACS Industrial Services is an independent industrial electronic repair center providing repairs for all types of industrial electronic equipment and most all manufacturers including circuit board repairs, logic board repairs, repairs for industrial power supplies, drives, servo motors, CNC equipment, encoders, monitors and touchscreens, test equipment, light curtains, and much more. Rush Service is available and a comprehensive 2-Year Warranty covers most repairs.  The customer service team is available to answer your questions and help solve your industrial electronic repair problems. You can reach them by calling 800-605-6419 or going to www.acsindustrial.com.

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