Performing a “before a failure” investigation on electronics is typically done for various reasons. One reason is to identify weak components or sub-systems before committing to a full-blown production run and its associated expenses. Comparison testing of similar component parts to reduce costs and increase reliability of existing designs, or against a competitor’s offerings is another reason. A “before a failure” investigation can validate a design to satisfy customer or market specifications, or regulatory obligations, which is common among the aerospace and medical devices fields.
Failure analysis is the process of identifying, and typically attempting to mitigate, the root cause of a failure. In the electronics industry, failure analysis typically involves isolating the failure to a location on a printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) before collecting more detailed data to investigate which component or board location is functioning improperly.
As 2017 is coming to a close, we are taking a look at our top viewed blog posts written by the expert engineers and reliability professionals at DfR Solutions.
Along with these blog posts, we have a large selection of resource materials available on electronics reliability, failure mechanisms and failure analysis.
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Electronic components have become more ubiquitous in the last few years. Thanks to technological advancement, they are finding their way into more product categories and industries than ever before. One such recent advancement is the Internet of Things (IoT), which is a network of interconnected systems that communicate using a network protocol. The difference between the current internet and IoT is the heterogeneity. Systems of different functionality, technology and applications will belong to the same communication environment. The mantra that every component and system manufacturer is adopting these days is to make things “smarter.” What started with smart phones is now evolving into the smart watch, smart home, smart city, smart grid, smart retail, smart farming and the list goes on.
Warranty costs can be the bane of hardware companies. Think about it. One of the great benefits of a software company (whether it’s the old fashioned standalone software on a disk or the more common webservices) is no warranty. Facebook does not have any set asides for warranty claims, which can run into the billions of dollars for some companies. Billions of dollars doing nothing but acting as insurance.
New product development (NPD) is often driven by cost and schedule. In the electronics industry, being first to market with a new technology or product is crucial to its success, and enhanced speed to market is what differentiates world class companies from the rest.
This October, the International Microelectronics Assembly and Packaging Society (IMAPS) will hold its 50th Anniversary Symposium in Raleigh, North Carolina. It will be the society's largest event to date, with 25 breakout sessions, 4 keynotes, and more than 140 speakers in a 3-day span, from October 10th-12th. Luckily for us, our own Greg Caswell will be doing more than just speaking at IMAPS 2017, he’s also been named one of the committee chairs of the event and has been nominated for the lifetime achievement award! Last week, I sat down with Greg to get an inside scoop on what to expect, as well as learn more about his involvement with IMAPS.
With the wearable electronics market growing by the day, the electrical connectors used in these devices are more critical than ever. While gold is the best and preferred metal to use, its high cost has led designers to explore other metals as plating materials. Tin has proven to be a suitable replacement, due to its low cost and ability to withstand environmental factors that wearables commonly come in contact with, including sweat, high humidity, high and low temperatures, corrosive gasses and various types of debris. That being said, tin connectors are more susceptible to failure, and it’s important that electronic designers and engineers understand their primary failure mechanisms to help prevent issues from occurring.
There are several reasons why today’s power supplies can experience reliability issues, including solder joint fatigue as a top contributor. Space constraints and large components in a power supply can prove problematic for solder joints, along with thermal expansion issues that can occur during thermal cycling. To help effectively predict and mitigate potential solder joint fatigue in a device's power supply, an understanding of common problems that can arise, along with a proactive design and analysis strategy, can help conserve engineering resources and speed time to market.
In my conversations with product engineers and designers, I often come across people who feel confident that their lithium-ion batteries are safe because they passed standards-based safety tests. If that is indeed the case, then why did major global companies experience thermal events even after having passed compliance tests? And that brings up a bigger question – are standards-based tests such as UL safety tests sufficient to guarantee lithium-ion battery safety?