Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Image source Freepik
When dealing with electronics, or when you are involved in building one, you would always wish to set it to the optimum operating conditions. However, in real life, there is no perfect condition that the device will operate to its full potential. Environmental factors that determine the operation of an electronic module will keep varying. This, in most cases, will drastically affect the overall performance of the device.
The performance of PCBA modules is largely determined by the environment in which they operate. In this article, we are going to discuss the different impacts of environmental factors on the performance of the PCBA modules.
Key environmental factors that affect the performance of PCBA that we are going to discuss in this article include:
- Dust and dirt
- Moisture, humidity, and other sources of water
- Electromagnetic interference (EMI
- Chemical elements in the environment
Impact of temperature on the performance of PCBA
When it comes to temperature, the environment can either be hot or cold. Temperature has a direct impact on the life and behavior of the electronic components that are on the PCBA. It can optimize their performance or inhibit. This is why all the components have specified maximum and minimum operational temperatures.
Usually, the impact of temperature on PCB is mechanical- it determines the movement of electric charges on the PCBA components. Additionally, it affects the expansion and contraction of the PCB. For example, extremely hot conditions will force the PCBA t expand beyond the required limits and this may cause some form of breakage. It may also affect the conductivity properties of the modules. Drastic temperature changes are likely to trigger erratic motions on the PCBA hence affecting the overall performance.
Temperature also has an impact on the reliability and durability of the electronic components. It mostly affects energy storage components such as capacitors. In most cases, it causes a degradation in the lifespan of the capacitor core component of the PCBA.
How to minimize the impact of temperature on PCBA
PCBA manufacturers have various solutions to protect modules from the impact of high-temperature changes. Some of the solutions that they implement include the following:
- Installing heat sinks to facilitate the flow of radiation from the essential components
- The PCBA module design should include spaces for the air vents that will also allow the flow of air through the components.
- Careful with the material to use heat-resistant materials
Moisture and water
This is another major environmental factor that is likely to affect the performance of PCBA modules. It is pretty common for water and moisture elements to cause instant disruption in the operation of electric devices and components. Well, it has the same impact on the PCBA. Since water is a good conductor of electricity, it can cause a short circuit when it spills on the PCB conductors.
Also, exposure to moisture is likely to cause rust and corrosion on different PCBA materials. Epoxy glass surface and resin are likely to degrade in quality due to exposure to water. Components that are involved in the transmission of the electrons are likely to get damaged when exposed to water.
Water can also slow down the performance of the PCBA due to the interference of signal flow. This is likely to be the impact especially when you are using PCBA for high-frequency applications.
How can I minimize the impact of moisture on PCBA?
The most basic method is to include a water-tight enclosure on the PCBA. It will protect sensitive components from the impact of water and humidity. Water protection should also be implemented during the manufacturing and assembling of the PCBA. One way of doing this is by using elements that won’t absorb moisture.
Dust and dirt
Dirt and dust are solid elements that are likely to get into PCBA and interfere with its normal operations. The impact on the PCBA performance is likely to be heavy especially when you are using the module in a dusty room or an outdoor environment.
How does dust affect the PCBA performance? First, it increases the resistance in the PCBA, especially when it accumulates on the conducting paths. Dust and dirt are also known for causing stray capacitance, which is basically the unwanted capacitance in an electric circuit. This capacitance is likely to interfere with the flow of electric signals in a PCBA module.
Accumulation of dirt and dust in PCBA can also lead to overheating. In most cases, dirt and dust end up blocking heating elements hence the devices will not radiate heat away.
How do I minimize the impact of dirt and dust?
It all starts with a clean manufacturing and assembling process. Ensure that you do it in a clean room. You may also consider adding a dust-proof enclosure to the PCBA module. It will do a pretty job of shielding the PCBA when embedded in a device.
EMF is a major environmental factor that is likely to affect the performance and operation of a PCB module. This problem is likely to manifest when PCBA is used in areas that are likely to be exposed to electromagnetic forces. A perfect example is when the PCBA will be used near a power plant.
Electromagnetic forces are likely to cause significant interference in the flow of the electric signals in the PCBA. This will end up affecting the overall performance of a PCBA module.
How to minimize EMI on PCBA
The most effective way is to use a Faraday cage, which is designed for EMI shielding. Also, be careful where you install the device and the PCBA. Proper selection and positioning of the PCBA components will help to provide protection from EMI.
From the article, it is clear that various environmental parameters have different impacts on the performance of PCBA modules. We have also mentioned solutions or various ways of protecting PCBA from the harsh impact of environmental conditions.
As long as the environmental factor will tilt towards the extreme sides, then you should expect a negative impact on the operation and the performance of the PCBA. This is why testing is an important aspect of the PCBA manufacturing process. It is through testing that manufacturers are able to establish the ideal operating parameters for the PCBA modules.
Additionally, manufacturers always define the ideal operating conditions on the data sheet so that buyers can decide whether the modules are suitable for their environment. You should also verify where you buy electronic components for PCBA to ensure that they are of good quality and can withstand all environmental factors.
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