The essential guide to environmental testing of PCB assemblies

Aug 10, 2021PCB assembly, Testing

The essential guide to environmental testing of PCB assemblies

Environmental testing is a crucial part of the PCB assembly manufacturing process. It is not always required, but when it is, it is integral to the reliability, safety and performance of your product.

This type of testing is designed to ensure that your circuit boards and products function in the conditions in which they will be used. It is a specialist process, which means that you should always use an expert contract electronics manufacturer with the right in-house facilities.

To help you understand what is involved and why it is vital that it is carried out properly, we have put together this short guide to environmental testing of PCB assemblies.

What is environmental testing of PCB assemblies?

When products are used in harsh environments, it is important that their PCB assemblies can perform properly in these conditions, and that they can survive transportation and storage. Environmental testing helps to ensure this reliability and durability.

An experienced electronics assembly specialist will be able to provide comprehensive environmental testing for your circuit boards. They will be able to test them for safety and performance under a range of conditions.

These conditions, which could cause the failure of your product, include environmental factors and extreme temperature ranges, which are simulated in an environmental test chamber. The impact on components and soldered joints is monitored and assessed to ensure that your products will work under the relevant stresses.

Do you need environmental testing for your PCB assemblies?

Not all PCB assemblies and products require environmental testing, and it is more common in some industries than others. For example, environmental testing of PCB assemblies is a regular requirement for products intended for the military and defence industries.

In short, if your product is used in an extreme environment, such as a desert, where the days are very hot and the nights are cold, or at sea, where water-related corrosion and repeated shock are primary risks, your PCB assemblies will need to be tested under these conditions.

Does environmental testing affect PCB assemblies?

No. The environmental testing process does not have an adverse effect on the appearance or performance of PCB assemblies. Indeed, should you want your circuit boards to look as nice as they possibly can, an expert contract electronics manufacturing partner should be able to offer a cleaning service, or you should be able to make use of your contract manufacturer’s cleaning process.

Crucially, it is worth finding out from a prospective contract electronics manufacturer if they perform environmental testing of PCB assemblies on a batch-testing or an all-boards basis. You should only use a partner that performs testing on all of your boards.

Environmental testing and your PCB assembly partner

Environmental testing of PCB assemblies requires specialist expertise and equipment, and, as a result, not every electronics manufacturer can carry out this process in-house. This is one reason why the outsourcing of electronics manufacturing is growing in popularity.

Given the important role that environmental testing has in terms of product safety, reliability and durability, it is vital that you choose the right contract PCB manufacturing partner.

To find out how MPE Electronics PCB manufacturing and assembly services can benefit your business, contact us on +44 (0)1825 764822 or

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