Common PCB Defects and Their Impact on Product Quality for Electronic Manufacturers

Things can always go wrong in manufacturing. When this happens, it’s important your electronic manufacturer knows where the error or defect took place and how to fix the problem. Pinpointing the specific reason for failure can be difficult, so it is important to understand the most common PCB defects and their impact on product quality.

Close-up photo of a green printed circuit board with SMT and Through Hole.

Plating Voids

Plating voids happen when the material does not coat evenly during the deposition process. This may be because of contamination of the material, air bubbles caught in the material, insufficient cleaning of the holes, insufficient catalyzation of the copper, or rough hole drilling.

Insufficient Copper-to-Edge Clearance

Since copper is such a conductive metal, soft and vulnerable to corrosion, and an active component of PCBs, the copper will be covered with other materials to prevent the corrosion from occurring. However, if copper is too close to the edge after trimming, the copper layer will be exposed and can cause numerous problems in the functionality of the board. Shorts, corrosion, and potential shocks are all possible when the copper-to-edge clearance is insufficient.

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Bad Soldering

Improper soldering can lead to major issues. If the solder is not heated enough by the technician, cold soldering can cause PCB failure. Moisture from bad soldering can contaminate the PCB pad and other components, creating burns and connection problems.

Missing Solder Mask Between Pads

The solder mask layer insulates the copper layer and prevents contact between the copper and other metal, solder, or conductive bits. It also prevents corrosion of the copper layer. When this layer is missing between pads, the copper can be exposed and may result in a short or corrosion, which will impact the functionality and longevity of the PCB.

Acid Traps

An acid trap is the term for acute angles in a circuit. The angles trap acid during the etching process, allowing acid to build up in the nook of the angle. The acid will eat away at the connection, causing serious problems.

Poorly Manufactured Components

If the components used in the PCB assembly are of poor quality, the PCB can be harmed and these parts can cause your board to fail. This usually results from connection issues and loose parts. This can lead to major damage product

Starved Thermals

Thermals allow the pads to effectively disperse heat. However, voids in the thermal connection with the plane can result in an incomplete connection, reducing the effectiveness of the heat transfer system. This can put the thermal under heat stress, slow the assembly process, and then become prone to overheating and resulting heat damage.

Solder Bridges

Solder bridges result when two solder joints are incorrectly connected. This failure mode causes a short that may cause component or board damage.


Tombstoning is when one side of a component detaches from the board. This introduces an open circuit that can be fixed during rework if discovered early enough.

Position Shifts

If the position shifts, the component may develop an issue where the pin no longer aligns with the footprint pads. This can cause an open circuit and an unpredictable operation.


These holes usually show up at via locations and may extend into or through the entire length of the PTH. The cause of the blowhole may be gas attempting to escape due to internal moisture build up.

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Solder Webbing

Solder mask webbing can prevent shorts or solder bridges between adjacent pins, typically for multi-pin ICs. Solder webbing, which is slightly different, is caused by pollutants and can present problems with the solder joint quality.

Although any of these defects can have an impact on product quality, working with the right electronic manufacturing partner can ensure that the defects are caught early in the process and remedied before any issues present in the final product. Finding the right partner for your PCB assembly is vital to a quality final product. To get a quote on your next project, contact Levison Enterprises today!