Proper storage of PCBs is more critical than getting a shipment of finished boards into your warehouse because there is a length of time (weeks to months) before your new PCBs are put to use. It’s critical that all boards are stored and handled properly from the time of arrival to the time of application. Check out these pointers for storing your boards properly:
For proper PCB storage firstly ensure that you have a climate controlled, dry area. Sterilize the space, wipe down all services thoroughly and make sure that any dust or particle debris is completely cleared. Compressed air and damp wipes are advisable.
PCBs are moisture sensitive and as such your area should be moisture-controlled to prevent any long term defects such as corrosion or shorting. Additionally, any PCB storage area should be proofed for electrostatic forces. ESD flooring is advised to accomplish this.
Climate control is arguably the most necessary factor when storing printed circuit boards. Moisture and humidity are the most common contributors to PCB malfunction. An ideal storage space will prevent any moisture or contaminants from coming into contact with the units.
When handling the PCBs gloves are always recommended to prevent natural oils and grim from contaminating the product. Handle the units from their edges and secure them in vacuum sealed containers – generally ESD bags. Avoid applying too much pressure or force during this process.
Always be mindful of a finished product’s moisture sensitivity level (MSL). External packaging will indicate the normal MSL for the boards. The area must be static free and devoid of any liquids. If your product comes into contact with moisture beyond the recommended MSL it will require the boards to be baked to ensure dryness.
STORING PCBS LONG-TERM?
Larger operations generally call for some shipments to be stored for an extended period of time. When considering long term storage options it’s important to look at the packaging. Each storage unit should have a moisture barrier bag, desiccant, a humidity indicator card, and be labeled for the appropriate MSL.
A convenient option for larger storage demands is a dry cabinet. Dry cabinets can be purchased along with pre-assembled dry packaging for a guaranteed storage solution specifically tailored to the demands of handling PCBs. It is also recommended that the boards remain in the factory packaging until ready for application. This avoids unnecessary mechanical damage and helps to ensure that the boards remain in pristine operational conditions.