Skip to main content

Modern electronics assembly is a complicated and intricate process that uses many different materials, machines, and techniques. Component damage is a challenge for any electronics assembler, with the risk of corrosion, overcurrent, reverse polarity, and mechanical, thermal, or chemical damage. However, there are various methods, practices, and procedures that will help prevent this from happening. All of this in covered in the eletronics assembly course

Adhering to these as a matter of principle will help to avoid potential health and safety violations, financial costs, further electronic damage or failure, and will increase product performance and assembly efficiency as a whole.

Read on to find out what you can do to help prevent component damage as an electronic assembler, and how ART can help by providing IPC training.

ipc training

Interested in More Information on Hand Soldering?
Call: +44 (0)1245 237083 
Email: [email protected]

What Are the Different Types of Component Damage on an Electronics Assembly Line?

Electronics on an assembly line are at risk of many types of damage, including but not limited to:

  • Electronic Discharge Damage: This can result in immediate damage to sensitive components or it can lead to component failure further down the line.
  • Mechanical stress: Bending, dropping, and cracking are some of the ways that components can become damaged during assembly.
  • Thermal damage: Overheating during soldering can lead to the alteration of fundamental electronic properties.
  • Moisture, corrosion, and rust: Water can corrode certain metals, cause short circuits, and rust over time.
  • Overcurrent and overvoltage: Components that are subject to currents or voltages beyond their maximum ratings can degrade over time or destroy immediately.
  • Reverse polarity: Connecting components in reverse can cause instant damage, especially in diodes, capacitors, and ICs.
  • Chemical damage: Improper cleaning agents or exposure to harmful chemicals can corrode contacts, leads, and solder joints.

Best Practices for Electronics Assemblers to Prevent Component Damage

Despite there being many different types of component damage, there are also a variety of methods and practices that can be put in place to help prevent component damage in both the short and long term.

Implement Electrostatic Discharge Damage (ESD) Protection

ESD protection involves a comprehensive approach that includes using antistatic mats and flooring, ESD-safe workstations, antistatic wrist straps and clothing, and proper grounding techniques. These measures help to equalise electrical charges between objects and people, thereby reducing the risk of a discharge that could potentially damage semiconductor devices and other sensitive components. Additionally, ESD protection extends to packaging and handling, ensuring that components are stored and transported in materials that shield them from electrostatic charges.

Proper Handling and Storage to Prevent Component Damage

Different components within the assembly line will have different handling requirements to make sure equipment avoids getting damaged. For example, you may need to use tweezers for smaller soldering components or vacuums to collect dust from intricate areas. When storing items, it is important that packaging is ESD-protected and that the environment is optimised, with appropriate heating and humidity to prevent potential moisture or thermal damage.

Using Flux and Solder At Appropriate Intervals to Reduce Component Damage

Flux should be used to clear surfaces of components and Printed Circuit Board (PCB) pads before and during soldering. This helps remove oxidation and prevents any further oxidation during the soldering process by making sure that solder can properly wet the surfaces. Solder, on the other hand, is used to electrically and mechanically connect components to the PCB and the right type and amount of solder ensure strong, reliable connections without the need for excessive heat or solder, which can stress or damage components. For example, you should check to see if you need leaded or lead-free solder from the outset.

Using the Right Tools for the Right Jobs

As an electronic assembler, you will need to be careful that you are using the correct tools. This will help to ensure your tools do not overheat or deliver too much electrical current to sensitive parts. Taking soldering as an example, you will need to make sure that your soldering iron is set to the appropriate wattage and that you are interchanging the tips depending on the different tasks, as well as using desoldering pumps and desoldering wicks to remove excess to correct any soldering errors.

Solder Paste and Stencils Can Help Prevent Component Damage

A simple but effective method when it comes to preventing component damage is to use solder paste via a stencil. When applied to the PCB, solder paste allows for precise placement of solder only where it’s needed, preventing excessive solder that could lead to shorts or insufficient solder that could result in weak joints. They are also formulated to reflow at lower temperatures, minimising the thermal stress experienced by components during soldering. Stencils are increasingly being used in assembly lines to apply the right amount of solder paste to the correct areas in an efficient manner. This helps improve consistency and accuracy across electronic assembly lines.

The Consequences of Failing to Prevent Component Damage for Electronics Assemblers

Failing to adhere to the above measures will have a variety of implications for yourself as an individual, for the company and its reputation, and for any potential customers further down the line. Not only will this be costly but it can result in further application or device damage, reduced performance, and clear health and safety violations.

  • Cost: Damage to components during assembly can lead to significant financial losses. The costs associated with replacing components, coupled with the additional labour for rework or repair, can inflate production expenses.
  • Equipment Damage: For critical applications, such as in medical devices, aerospace, and defence electronics, component damage could lead to equipment failure when in use which may lead to catastrophic outcomes such as the loss of life.
  • Product Performance: Damaged components can affect the reliability and performance of electronic devices. This not only tarnishes the manufacturer’s reputation but also erodes customer trust.
  • Health and Safety: In some cases, component damage can pose direct health and safety risks. For example, a damaged battery may leak hazardous chemicals or even cause fires and explosions or faulty medical devices could lead to incorrect diagnoses or treatments.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Component damage can result in non-compliance, leading to fines, recalls, and the need to halt production.

While there are many different types of component damage, there are also various measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of component damage happening as you assemble electronic components. We would recommend regularly checking to make sure your assembly process adheres to the above principles at all times.

Transform your electronics assembly process and dramatically reduce component damage with our expert training programs here at A.R.T. We will equip your team with the knowledge and skills to handle sensitive components with care, master the use of essential tools like solder paste and stencils, and implement best practices in ESD protection. Contact us today to find out about our industry-leading IPC training courses and training kits.

For More Information On Hand Soldering - Contact Us Today