Why PCB Assembly Rework is Necessary?

Single printed circuit boards are simply blank boards which need to be assembled for their functioning. A PCB assembly is said to be ready when the boards are layered with components mounted, and all the wires in place with functional circuit. Such a PCBA is installed inside a device to make it functional. These PCBAs may need rework at times for various reasons, such as new versions or upgrades in the product, fixing a bug, adding new features, and so on. PCB assembly rework requires skill and expertise and needs to be done carefully to prevent damage to components, wires, and so on. This post explores the reasons why PCB assembly rework is generally done, required skillsets, and more.

PCB (Printed Circuit Board) assembly rework is necessary for various reasons, and it involves the process of repairing or modifying a PCB that has defects or issues. Here are some common reasons why PCB assembly rework may be necessary:

Defective Components: Sometimes, components on a PCB may be found to be defective after the initial assembly. This could be due to manufacturing errors, quality control issues, or issues with the components themselves. Rework is necessary to replace these defective components.

Design Changes: Design changes may be required after the initial assembly due to factors such as changes in product specifications, regulatory requirements, or improvements identified during testing and prototyping. Rework allows for the implementation of these design changes without scrapping the entire PCB.

Soldering Issues: Soldering is a critical aspect of PCB assembly, and issues such as solder bridges, cold joints, or insufficient solder can occur. Rework is necessary to address these soldering issues, ensuring proper electrical connections and reliability.

Component Misplacement: Components may be placed incorrectly during the initial assembly, leading to issues such as short circuits or incorrect connections. Rework involves removing and repositioning components to ensure the correct placement.

Quality Control: Rework is often part of the quality control process. After the initial assembly, thorough testing and inspection may reveal issues that need to be addressed to meet quality standards and ensure the reliability of the PCB.

Customer Returns and Warranty Claims: If a product with a PCB assembly experiences issues in the field, rework may be necessary to address the reported problems. This could be part of warranty service or addressing issues identified during the product’s lifecycle.

Cost Considerations: Rework can be a more cost-effective solution than scrapping an entire PCB assembly and starting from scratch. It allows manufacturers to salvage components and reduce overall production costs.

Environmental Concerns: Minimizing electronic waste is a growing concern. Reworking a PCB allows for the correction of  issues without contributing to unnecessary waste, aligning with environmental sustainability goals.

Important Skills and Requirements an Engineer Must Have for PCB Assembly Rework

As mentioned, this job needs to be done carefully and requires the engineer to be skilled and focused. Here are some pointers in this regard.

The person must be calm and focused as this job requires total concentration even if you use automated tools.

They must have a good hand-eye coordination and attention to detail.

The engineer must have thorough knowledge of electronics in terms of electronic components, pin configurations, and identification codes among other aspects. They should also have an in-depth understanding of the concerned PCB design and layout and the exact requirement.

They must be proficient in using soldering tools such as hot air iron and reflow techniques.

They must also be experts in troubleshooting, PCB design, circuit tracing and routing, identifying faults in wiring, signal, and so on.

They must also know rework techniques such as surface mount device (SMD) removal and reflow, through-hole component removal, circuit trace modification, and jumper wire installation, and testing and inspection techniques as well.

Whether you are an OEM or a PCB manufacturer that develops new versions of existing assemblies, you may have to rework on PCBs at some point in time. As an OEM, it is recommended to partner with a reliable PCBA services provider for your PCB assembly rework. Ensure you partner with an experienced and credible PCB manufacturer and assembler as reworking requires specific skill in terms of removing any shields or coats above the components and reassembling is another daunting task. Fubon Precision Electronics is a known name in this segment, and offers custom options, end-to-end manufacturing and assembling services as well as PCB assembly reworks. The company uses advanced processes, materials, and fabrication techniques for PCB assembling as well as rework.