A clean PCB is important for reliability. Printed Circuit Boards may sometimes accumulate dust or other contaminants and require cleaning. A dirty PCB may affect the proper functionality of its intended design. Whether your board is dirty because of exposure to its working environment or as result of them not being packaged or protected properly, the proper cleaning method must be done to result in an improved reliability.
How Dirty PCBs Affect Functionality
Dust consists of materials that are suspended in air. It is complex in nature and normally includes a mixture of inorganic mineral materials, water soluble salts, organic materials, and a small amount of water.
As SMT components become smaller and more miniaturized, the risk for failure due to contaminants increases. Studies have definietvly proven that dust makes boards more susceptible to moisture related failure, such as loss of surface insulation resistance, electro-chemical migration, and corrosion.
How to Clean PCBs
Cleaning your PCB should be done with the utmost care. ESD precautions should be taken into account and it should be disconnected from power and done in a dry area. Cleaning with the improper method or procedure may result in a completely nonworking board.
For dust, the best method for removing dust is compressed air to blow the board clean. Be wary of sensitive areas that may result in damage. A toothbrush is another tool you may use to brush off dirt and dust.
Boards that have flux residue must be cleaned using a saponifier. The most common for hobbyist and engineers is rubbing alcohol. A toothbrush can be wet with the alcohol and can be used to scrub off any flux. Note that if your board was soldered with no-clean flux, it will be much more difficult to remove and a stronger cleaning solution may need to be used.
Mild corrosion from batteries or other items may be cleaned using baking soda. It can be used to remove the grime with minimal risk of damaging the board. Baking Soda has mild abrasive qualities that aide in the removal of corrosion or residue that will otherwise not come off with simpler tools like a brush with distilled water. It also neutralizes the acidic qualities of the residue.
Clean PCBs are essential especially in mission critical type uses. Vinatronic makes sure that the boards it manufacturers are free from dust and debris but proper care must be taken by your refurbishing department or the end user to prolong the longevity of the board.
Contact us if your problem lies outside of the scope of this article!