PCB Design: Vibration Effects and How to Reduce Them
Vibration can severely affect the performance of a printed circuit board (PCB) design, so understanding them is incredibly important. When designing a PCB, knowledge of all possible effects gives the designer a chance to minimize them and therefore improve the performance of the circuit under all possible operating conditions. In this article, we’ll explain what vibration effects are and how to reduce their impact.
The Effects of Vibration on Components and PCBs
The effects of vibration are often felt when a product is being used in the field or during shipping. The most common causes of vibration are mechanical equipment that produces a continuous vibration and impacts from bumpy roads or rough handling during shipping.
PCB designers should be aware of the structural effects of vibration on their electronics design. Vibration can cause soldered interconnects to become fatigued and eventually break. The stresses imposed by vibration also can cause board flexing and eventually lead to board breaks. The effects of vibration on solder joints are particularly important to consider in high-reliability applications.
Component leads and soldered joints are subject to thermal shock, which is a physical shock that occurs due to temperature differences between two components or materials. Thermal shock can accelerate fatigue in solder joints, particularly under high temperatures and pressures.
It may also be affected by the design of pads and lands which are used for through-hole components. Pads that are badly designed can vibrate excessively and lead to poor connections. They can also cause the pads to shear off, creating serious electrical problems. Printed circuit board durability is also dependent on the quality of the PCB design and construction.
The effects of PCB vibration are not always immediately apparent because they tend to occur over time. For these reasons, PCBs need to be designed, so they are as resistant as possible to vibration.
How to Reduce Vibration Effects in PCB Design
When creating a PCB design for high vibration and shock applications, it is important to utilize design for reliability (DFR) principles. Following DFR practices will help ensure your printed circuit board design is reliable and will be able to withstand the demands that it will be subjected to the IPC class.
Another important part of DFR is testing your design before it goes into production. The most common method of testing is a computer simulation, which can be used to determine how vibrations affect critical components.
You should also use HALT (Highly Accelerated Life Test) during the prototype phase of your PCB design process. HALT testing requires more space and tools and aims to find the limits of your product’s capabilities by pushing it to those limits with severe stress tests. The goal is to discover all possible failure points before your product hits the market so that you can fix them before it does.
The low-pressure injection molding process can also provide protection for sensitive electronic components against vibration or shock by encapsulating them in a protective layer of thermoplastics. It can help to safeguard the internal circuitry and components.
With decades of experience, LGS Overmold is a leading low-pressure injection molding solution provider and ensures that your equipment is protected from harsh conditions while still maintaining a high level of performance.
With the development of electronics, so many miniaturized components are introduced into the circuit board design. Compared with traditional components, they are more sensitive to vibration in high-speed rotation systems. PCB designers should pay more attention to the vibration effect and try their best to reduce it.