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Why a Dye and Pry Test Is Used in Circuit Repair

Dye and pry testing, which is sometimes referred to as a dye penetrant test, is done to identify concealed discontinuities that are found below various SMT components. It should also be noted that dye and pry testing is destructive. Still, the harmful component is for the greater good, as it is currently the most cost-effective and efficient method to analyze 100% solder connections of SMT packages that are bottom terminated, as well as BGAs.

Furthermore, any leaks or cracks that have developed on SMT parts that have been sealed can also be confirmed via dye and pry testing. Here, we will discuss dye and pry testing, how it works, as well as compare and contrast it to the microsection process.

How Dye and Pry Testing Works

In order to begin the sample preparation, the part of the board that contains the target feature is extracted. In some instances, the engineer may use a state of the art saw blade that is specially designed to cut circuit boards in a highly precise manner.

Proper technique, as well as the ideal tools, should be used during the initial step, as shear forces or vibrations can deleteriously affect the integrity of the sample in question and may also lead to novel defects.

After the excision component has been completed, the sample will be inserted into a vacuum chamber and will be engulfed in a dye that has low viscosity properties. Capillary actions are then triggered to pull the liquid dye to and fro so that it reaches every void and crevice without compromise. Interestingly, the pressure differential that is triggered by the chamber will help in this process.

Next, after the dye has been fully immersed, the sample will then be dried by inserting it into a top of the line moisture removal oven. Once the sample has been baked it will be fixtured prudently into a puller assembly unit so that the component can be separated from the board.

Finally, the qualitative assurance phase will take place, whereby both the component and its associated board will be assessed under a high magnification microscope, and any anomalies or defects that are found can be recorded and imaged for posterity.

Microsection vs. Dye and Pry Testing

Both microsection and dye and pry testing have their merits when it comes to the failure analysis of components that are bottom terminated, as well as for process validation. However, they have unique advantages and disadvantages that you should be aware of, as one process may be superior to the other, depending on what you’re working on.

For instance, if failure analysis is a priority, then it is recommended that you begin with either visual microscopy, a CT X-ray, or a conventional radiograph. By doing so, the sample will remain intact. As for destructive analysis, if it seems to be indicated, then several questions must be asked to facilitate the investigative strategy.

Consider the following: Is it paramount that the root cause is identified, or would it suffice to rule out or confirm a solder-based defect? You should also look into the prior troubleshooting reveal in regards to the failure mode, and should also determine if you have already identified the location of the problem pins and circuits.

Also, you will need to determine the budgetary limitations of your project as well as how many samples you can realistically afford to eradicate.

As for process validation, the questions you may need to ask yourself will likely be easier to answer. The needs of the end-user will likely drive most of the questions. For example, you will need to determine how many boards need to be analyzed as well as how many of each type of connection (SMT), for each board, needs to be assessed?

In sum, dye and pry testing yields a lower cost per joint, and the preparation time for samples is relatively modest. Moreover, you will be able to look at 100% solder connections at the same time. Limited data, however, is an issue with dye and pry testing, as you can identify the horizontal point of separation as well as yes or no opens if needed, but not much else.

As for microsection, it has a higher cost, as well as longer prep time for samples, given the fact that multi-step polishing and potting are involved with micro-sectioning. You will also need to select the absolute best target plane, as you will only be able to look at one solder connection row per cross-section.

However, one of the advantages that microsection has over dye and pry testing is that it will yield detailed data. This may include solder wetting angles, intermetallic layers, grain structure, fracture propagation paths, and voiding.

Dye and pry testing allow engineers to detect open circuits as well as cracking in BGA solder joints, which is why it is considered an excellent failure analysis technique in the industry. It can also be used to assess an entire ball grid array, which may comprise several hundred solder joints.

As a result, it is superior in many ways to other destructive processes in the industry, such as cross-sectioning. Dye and pry may also be used to identify a myriad of failure modes. For instance, it may be implemented to detect thermal cycling, thermal shock, mechanical shock or drop, solder joint fractures and pad cratering.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of dye and pry testing, call Circuits Central at 1-888-821-7746 or contact us here.

How Are Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) Made

When it comes to PCB manufacturing, there are over a dozen intricate and nuanced steps that must transpire in order for everything to work smoothly. PCBs also serve as the backbone of all major electronics in the industry, so PCB manufacturing is something that should never be taken lightly. From calculators and digital clocks to top-of-the-line computational electronics, PCB manufacturing is integral to the fabrication of various electronic devices. Here, we will discuss the various steps that are involved in PCB manufacturing.

Output and Design

The circuit board will need to be compatible with the PCB layout that is made by the designer involved using a PCB-based software. Examples include Eagle, Pads, and Altium Designer. Then, once the design is green-lit, production will ensue. That is, the design will be exported by the designer so that it can enter the production phase. Also, the most commonly used program for PCB fabrication is called extended Gerber and was named after the popular baby food.

In addition, to ensure that the design meets all of the requirements for the minimum tolerances during the manufacturing phase, virtually all PCB Fabrication Houses will initiate a DFM (Design for Manufacture) inspection before the circuit board is made.

Going From File to Film

As for PCB printing, it will commence once the design team has outputted the PCB schematic files, and after the manufacturers have performed a thorough DFM inspection. Photo films are made of the PCBs using a state-of-the-art printer known as a plotter. The result is the manufacturer will be able to print the PCBs that they need, and the films will also be used to image them. Interestingly, the end product will be a plastic sheet with a photo negative of the PCB in an ink that is dark black.

Printing the Inner Layers

Up to this point, the films were made to map out a copper path figure. However, the third step involves taking the printed film figure and placing it onto a copper foil. In other words, step 3 consists of fabricating PCBs. Moreover, a PCB in its most rudimentary form is made of laminated boards that are comprised of glass fibre and epoxy resin, which serve as a substrate material for the PCB.

As for the copper component that structures the PCB, the laminate material is designed to optimally house or support it so that no issues are going forward. In regards to the substrate material, it is very dust-resistant as well as incredibly sturdy, which serves as the quintessential starting point for the PCB. It should also be noted that step 3 includes pre-bonding the copper on both sides of the board, which involves whittling away at the copper so that the design can be revealed from the films.

Eliminating Superfluous Copper

After the photoresist has been eliminated and the hardened resist has been retained to cover the copper that needs to be kept, the gratuitous copper will need to be extracted. Moreover, in step 3, the alkaline solution was used to remove the resist. However, step 4 involves using an even more potent chemical concoction to get rid of the excess copper.

Also, please note that while the abrasive solvent will eliminate any remaining exposed copper, the required copper will be kept safe under the hardened barrier of photoresist. However, not all copper boards are equivalent, as some heavier boards will need massive quantities of copper solvent, as well as more attention to detail as far as track spacing is concerned.

It should also be noted that the hardened barrier will need to be cleaned, which is performed by another solvent product that is designed to wash hardened resists.

Optical Inspection and Layer Alignment

After the layers are washed and ready to go, each layer will need to be alignment-punched so that they will all line up as desired. Registration holes will be made so that the inner layers will be properly aligned to the outer layers. The technicians will use a top-of-the-line apparatus known as an optical punch for an exact correspondence to be achieved. That is, once the layers have been placed into the machine, the optical punch will ensure that the holes are punched accurately.

Once the layers are placed together, trying to rectify any problems that have transpired on the interior layers will prove impossible. Fortunately, another apparatus is used in order to perform an optical inspection of the panels automatically. The end result is that there will be a complete absence of defects.

Moreover, if an anomaly is detected, the comparison will be generated onto a screen so that the technician can assess the inconsistencies. Then, after the layer has passed the inspection phase, it will be sent to the final few steps or phases of PCB production.

Circuits Central

For brevity, we have not delved deeper into the dozen or so steps that are involved in PCB manufacturing. If you would like to learn more about the PCB manufacturing process, please visit our website. Circuits Central specializes in circuit manufacturing and integration, and our leading-edge solutions can help your organization get your products developed during the development and testing phase, regardless of scope or complexity.

We also offer full turnkey rapid prototyping that is a quick turn, as well as PCB repair, BGA rework and reballing, 24-hour production service, supply chain planning, production documentation, regulatory certification, environmental stress testing, and a comprehensive range of upgrade, modification, and rework services upon request. We can be reached at 888-821-7746 if you would prefer to discuss your PCB manufacturing needs over the phone, or if you would like a quote.

What Is the Best Circuit Design Software

There are many different circuit software options available to meet the layout requirements of engineers, such as PCB design software, including many free alternatives. However, with so many different options to choose from, determining which option to go with to meet your B2B needs may prove to be a daunting challenge. Here, we will provide brief overviews of some of the top circuit software in the industry so that you can select the best circuit software for your discerning needs.

Allegro Cadence

The Allegro Cadence is a printed circuit board software (PCB) that has many features that many developers will want out of their circuit software. It is a professional software that has several utilities that are connected for maximal synchronicity. However, each component is also accountable for its destination and is intended to perform certain actions in order for everything to function as designed.

In terms of hardware prerequisites, it is known in the industry for being quite light in its performance requirements, which is an added benefit. In fact, even a unit with a meagre 512 MBs of RAM should be able to make use of the Allegro Cadence without issue. Moreover, those who are only using a few parallel solutions may have no other option than to opt for the Allegro Cadence, particularly if you only have a single-core computer with which to work with.

In sum, it is designed for complicated tasks and also works very well with large entities. Low-performance hardware can also reap its benefits without hindrance to performance, but its relatively complex interface may be off-putting to engineering neophytes.


If you are looking for a PCB design software that is very affordable, then look no further than PADS. Thus, if you work for a medium-sized or even small engineering firm, or are an independent engineer, then PADS will fit the bill nicely. In fact, PADS is one of the most widely used PCB design software in the world, especially amongst smaller companies who need an affordable solution that also boasts superb performance.

While it is very affordable, it’s also very user-friendly, so young and independent engineers can quickly master its intricacies with relative ease. In addition, while it is straightforward to learn and use, its design quality is very high, especially when factoring in how affordable it is. However, its only real drawback is that it will not work well with multilayered circuit boards that are very complex.


OrCAD is available in a lite version, which is free for users to use. In fact, you can make use of its basic capabilities and qualifications without having to pay for anything, with the only limits being the complexity and size of the task at hand. There is also a standard version to choose from, which will include complete functionality for rudimentary PCBs without any unique requirements in regards to differential pairs and speed signals.

Furthermore, those looking for the complete experience can opt for OrCAD Professional, which is designed for engineers who want to design high-speed printed circuit boards that are very complex. In other words, you can obtain very high efficiency without having to shell out extra for gratuitous functionality.

In sum, OrCAD, regardless of which version you decide to choose, is a user-friendly software with a streamlined interface that even inexperienced engineers can quickly adapt to. The only real drawback is the fact that it is not designed for large companies with very complex projects.


Kicad is a C++ based program that uses a bevy of different utilities and tools to properly manage PCB electric schemas and architecture with relative ease. With a myriad of libraries of electronic components, Kicad is known for its versatility, and each electronic component has a 3D model that is implemented in state-of-the-art Wings3D. In addition, in terms of circuit size, Kicad stands out from its glut of competitors because it has an unlimited size for circuits.

In other words, if you need to make changes as you are working, you can go back at any single point of the circuit chain and make the necessary modifications without issue. The Kicad also comes equipped with a top-of-the-line 3D viewer, which you can use to make a 3D image of a PCB using OpenGL at any time. Please note, however, that as impressive as Kicad is, it does have a few limitations that you should be aware of.

For example, the rendering quality leaves much to be desired, especially when you compare it to the paid analogs on the market. Still, the quality is decent enough so that you can gather a visual comprehension if needed. Another con is that Kicad does not support the primary formats of 3D component models (i.e., .step, .iges).

In addition, the interface is very complex and unintuitive, which will make it hard to master without delving into the ins and outs of the provided documents. Thus, in sum, Kicad has several editing options and can generate 3D models, and is also completely free and will work on low-performance computers. However, it has certain disadvantages, such as not being user-friendly and not being suitable for complicated projects.

The Circuits Central Difference

If you would like to learn more about the best circuit software or would like to obtain the best circuit software in the industry, then we can help. Circuits Central offers a la carte solutions, manufacturing and integration, and design and engineering solutions for a myriad of different industries, including defence, aerospace, communications, medical, industrial, commercial, and consumer industry.

We also guarantee high-quality electronic circuit design, as well as cutting-edge electronic prototyping. To learn more about our circuit software services, please visit our website or give us a call at 888-821-7746 for a free, no-obligation quote and consultation to discuss your engineering and design needs.

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