When it comes to storing electronic devices, most people never think about the consequences of improper techniques and poor warehouse environments provided by printed circuit board suppliers.
Unfortunately, without careful consideration, electronic devices, including the PCBs within them can become seriously damaged.
After all, there is a great deal of sensitivity for components on printed circuit boards (PCBs), so in certain situations, mobile devices are damaged and, therefore, are no longer operable.
- Cold – When electronic devices are stored in a cold environment over a period of time, harm is done. Typically, condensation develops, which can do significant damage to a Printed Circuit Board. If the condensation reaches internal components, risk of a short intensifies. The problem is that with a short-out such as this, troubleshooting and repair are nearly impossible. Whether a smartphone or laptop, cold temperatures are a serious problem.
- Humidity – Just as with cold temperature, humidity can easily damage PCBs. When the level of humidity reaches a particular point, devastating damage occurs to electronics because of moisture. Of course, this also puts mobile devices at risk for being exposed to mold and mildew. Even when placed inside a sealed box off the floor, the humidity will eventually compromise the box, thereby weakening it and exposing PCBs to high humidity levels.
- Heat – You also need to consider heat as it, too, can be devastating to PCBs. Warehouses must have air conditioning and proper ventilation. Otherwise, the heat index rises too high during the hot months. When this happens, materials affected by hot temperatures are at risk. For example, certain materials will actually warp. Remember, while the PCB is one concern, you also need to realize that various components of this product such as plastics and metal can be damaged as well.
- Static Electricity – Especially for printed circuit boards, static electricity can do a tremendous amount of damage. In fact, dust that is statically charged is also damaging. Therefore, make sure the project or storage area is completely void of any products that can create static electricity, including fabrics and carpeting.
- Moisture – Electrical components can easily be destroyed by both humidity and dampness. A great solution is to use dehumidifiers. Although some electronics can withstand a small amount of moisture, when moisture comes into direct contact with PCBs, there is major risk for permanent damage.
- Damage from Animals – Small and medium-sized rodents are commonly found in warehouse and storage environments. While rats and mice are small, they can do a significant amount of damage, whether from chewing or urinating on PCBs. Especially in the case of feral cats, urine contains a high level of ammonia that can actually cause various components of PCBs to melt.
- Dust – Actual dust is also potentially damaging. Unless dust is cleared from PCBs prior to use, it serves as an insulation. Because of that, heat dissipation efficiency within an electronic device is reduced.
- Chemicals – If chemicals and cleaning solutions are stored too closely to PCBs, you can expect to see some degree of damage. Even fumes can be highly corrosive, which will eat away at the unit over time.
As a viable solution, many manufacturers now use dry cabinets and boxes in storage environments. By utilizing components that sense temperature, along with fans, PCBs can be safely stored in a dry and secure location. These special boxes and cabinets are available in a wide range of sizes, designs, and capabilities based on the type of electronic device placed inside.
Don’t leave the environments of your PCBs to chance. Ask your printed circuit board supplier about the environment in which your inventory is being created and stored.