Is your circuit board faulty? Naturally, the best way to resolve any issue it might be having is to replace the components. That is why its components are mainly designed to be configurable or have a flexible design that allows for improved optimizations.
But, do you know that it is possible to rework PCB? You can actually have the damaged parts repaired, rather than spending a lot of money getting them replaced.
In this article, we help you understand the concept of PCB repair. You will also see reasons as to why you should consider it. Then, we make the job easier by giving you some tips on how to find the PCB rework services near you.
What Does PCB Repair Mean?
From a surface meaning, it is the process of repairing the damaged parts or components of a Printed Circuit Board (PCB). There is another way to look at it – you are not just repairing the parts alone. The rework process also covers the fixing of any design flaws or design rules that might have been left out during the initial design.
In general, the goal of the PCB rework procedure is to get all the components/parts working as they should. When these are in good working conditions, you can be sure that the board will provide the needed performance for the consumer electronics.
Your PCB Rework and Repair Guide
Now that you want to go ahead with the repairs, we feel it is also important to intimate you with some things to know.
Here are some of the things you must know about the repair of the damaged parts or the fixing of the design flaws.
1. The Extent of the Damage
The extent or how bad the parts are damaged potentially influences the repair process. Sometimes, it is best to replace the components than repairing them. This is the case when the parts have encountered considerable damage – beyond repair. Fixing them takes a longer time, costs more money and there is little or no assurance of the best performance, assuming the repairs were pulled off.
However, you can make the most out of the repair service if the damage wasn’t so much. This way, you can be sure that the fixture would help the circuit board perform optimally.
2. Always Use a Professional Circuit Board Repair Service
There are technicalities in PCB rework and you don’t want a novice to handle this job. Using a professional repair service provider like Hillman Curtis is a sure way to have the problems figured out and fixed in good time.
One downside to choosing an amateur for the job is that the risks of having a badly-repaired circuit board component is high. With this in place, the risks of short-circuiting are considerably increased in the PCB.
3. Make Background Checks Before Reworking a PCB
It is important to point out that the fact that a PCB’s component got damaged might not necessarily mean that you start reworking or repairing it. The point is to always check for the board’s current status and reliability before reworking it.
Doing this puts into the perspective, the PCB’s current state and gives you a chance to mirror the potential lacuna (changes in the cooling cycle and heating), after its reworking.
Examples of PCB Rework Services
Several processes are in place to repair or rework malfunctioning or damaged parts of Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs). These procedures tend to differ, based on the types of process technologies used in designing the circuits.
Here are some examples of the commonest Printed Circuit Board (PCB) repair services you will find out there.
1. BGA Rework Service
This is one of the most popular and is based on the circuits designed with the Ball Grid Array (BGA).
In the BGA rework procedure, the focuses range from fixing the solder mask, repairing the lifted BGA pad and implementing the relevant changes in the BGA circuit patterns.
Other repair processes include:
- Reballing of the Ball Grid Array (BGA)
- Salvaging and replacement the necessary components.
2. PTH Repair Services
The repairs are not limited to the Ball Grid Array (BGA) or Surface Mount Technology (SMT). They also extend to the PTH.
Here, you can expect the reworks to range from stripping and replacement of the contaminated gold finger contacts to preparing the surface.
The PTH repair service also covers the drilling of the inner ground layers and the addition of the missing holes for the populated circuit boards.
It can also be used to make a mechanical swaging and replacement of the eyelet, as well as the removal and application of the solder masks on the board’s surface.
3. Surface Mount Technology PCB Repairs
Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) manufactured with the SMT process can also be repaired. These reworks take form in the following ways:
- Development of the repair profile for the removal and or replacement of the affected/damaged components.
- Making a reflow of the Surface Mount Technology (SMT) components.
- Facilitating the reapplication of the solder paste onto the PCB’s substrate.
- For best results, the laser system should be used to facilitate the SMT PCB’s rework.
4. Additional PCB Rework Procedures
It is important to clarify that the repairs of PCBs are sometimes, not limited to the components. At other times, other procedures can be used to enhance the circuit’s performances.
Here are some of the additional or extra rework procedures:
Drilling and Routing
In this case, the procedures are targeted at fixing some of the issues that come in contact with the performance of the routing paths.
Here, V-Scoring, drilling, routing, chamfering, milling, counter boring and counter baking are the major processes.
Lab Rework Services
It is at this stage that the PCBs are subjected to a series of testing processes to validate the performance. Both the manual and automatic inspection processes are used. It is also common to have the cross-sectioning, and solderability testing used.
The other lab rework services for PCBs include the usage of FischerScope to identify the thickness and finish of the plating.
The circuit board can also be washed to enable the compatibility with the Ionic contamination levels.
Miscellaneous PCB Rework Services
Some other reworking procedures include:
- Gold Tab: these are edge plated fingers, used for replating the gold contacts that were damaged on the PCB.
- Moisture removal, using flat baking.
- Installation of Pem Nut.
Getting Started with Electronic Board Repair Service
The first set of steps to take focus more on the selection of the right tools for PCB repair. Without these, you cannot carry-out an effective reworking of the board. You also want to check the board’s status to understand the best angle from which to approach the repairs.
With that being said, let us delve right into the exact steps to circuit board testing and repair.
1. Get Your Circuit Board Repair Kit
You need the kit to start the job. Included in the kit are the major tools you need for repairing the components.
The right tools in the right hands does the magic!
Examples of tools for working on circuit boards are:
- Craft knife or a pair of scissors
- Adhesive copper tape
- Cotton swab and rubbing alcohol
- Soldering gun
- A sharp knife or a flathead screwdriver
- Paper clip
- Tweezers and;
- Hot air gun
2. Diagnose the PCB
With the right tools, you can then start the process of identifying what the problems are with the PCB. Hillman Curtis helps you diagnose the board to find out the following:
- Determining the overall health or status of the circuit board.
- Finding out the components or parts that are damaged.
- Deciding on whether these parts need to be changed or repaired.
3. Use Your Rework Station
Due to the minimal technicalities experienced in the course of fixing the damaged parts, it is best to use a PCB rework station.
It doesn’t always require much. With the help of the adhesive copper tape, you can put the board in one good position so you can work on it with ease.
4. Remove the Defective PCB Component
This is where you need the hot air gun – to blow hot air over and beneath the damaged components. Once the components are loosened, you can use either of the tweezers, sharp knife or flathead screwdriver to remove the components from the board.
On the other hand, you may need to use sandpaper to remove the excess debris. This is the case if the defective components are badly-damaged and left a huge chunk of debris on the surface.
5. Prepare the Track for the New Components
Cleaning the track or the surface where the defective components were previously helps to provide a clean surface for placing the new components. Use the cotton swab, dipped in the alcohol to do this.
You can also your pair of scissors or craft knife to get rid of damaged sections of the track.
To keep a track of where these components are to be placed, layer the copper braid/tape on top of the track.
Besides helping in identifying the components’ location, it also provides a form of connection for the effective layering or placement of the new components.
6. Solder the Joints onto the PCB
Now, you can place and start solidifying the new pads on the track you have prepared. With the solder gun, apply a little amount to the pads and make sure the solder melts before removing.
Now, touch the solder gun’s tip on the adhesive copper tape and soften it before placing the pads atop it for attachment.
7. Component Placement
With the pathway now cleared, the new components can now come in. To solder these parts, you first need to insert the component’s lead via the through-hole, before flipping over the circuit board.
The second step is to apply a little solder to each of the pads and melting the same with the help of the solder gun.
Use the same solder gun to touch the components’ lead. Make sure to hold it in place, until you are certain a bond has been formed.
Common PCB Rework Problems
There may be no need to redesign or rework a PCB if it functions optimally. When the components begin to fall apart or malfunction, it is often because of one or more reasons.
Some of the reasons include:
1. Component Failure
These parts or components that malfunction due to factors like voltage issues, aging and excessive heating. When any of these three factors are in play, it often results in less conductivity on the components’ part.
At other times, there is a possibility of component failure due to dislodging from the position on the PCB. If this were to be the case, all that needs to be done is to reseat or reposition the affected components.
2. Poor Construction
When a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) is not designed the right way, especially by not following the design rules, it is possible to suffer malfunctioning after sometime.
You know that a PCB is poorly-constructed or designed when the following is noticed:
- The spaces or tracks made for the components have some extra spaces, meaning that the components weren’t well-positioned.
- The components have failed for multiple times.
The solution to fixing these design flaws is to hire the services of a professional electronic circuit board repair service provider. At Hillman Curtis, we have experienced engineers who use a combination of the right PCB rework tools and testing equipment to resolve whatever issues your PCB might be experiencing.
3. Physical Damages are not Ruled Out
Sometimes, the damages that result in reworking a PCB are not limited to malfunctioning parts. Physical damages caused by either the felling of the board to the ground or the parts were exposed to damage after getting the board disassembled.
No matter the cause of your PCB and components’ malfunctioning, one way to fix these issues and in good time is to contact a professional. Hillman Curtis is experienced in these fields and from the outcome of our inspections/testing of the board, we will help repair your PCB and have it back in good working conditions.