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Causes of PCB Delamination and How to Repair Them

There are numerous potential flaws that could result in a board getting scrapped during manufacture, and especially throughout assembly. Boards would be tested with a variety of heat excursions, toxic chemicals, quality inspections, and cleaning agents while being assembled. There’s a potential flaw in this procedure that is rarely mentioned: PCB delamination.

Delamination, or the beginning of the separation of a laminated board, may happen during assembly when conditions are ideal for the soldering and material parameters. Although no Circuit board is flawless and a limited degree of delamination may happen in some sections of the Printed circuit boards, large-scale delamination needs to be avoided. To achieve this, the materials, reflow profile, pre-bake settings, and laminate storage must be properly matched.

Circuit board fabrication is a challenging procedure that necessitates careful consideration of a number of elements. PCB delamination is among the possible flaws that could appear. Although there are techniques to prevent it, manufacturing mistakes are typically the cause of this problem. We’ll take a deep look at this flaw to discuss its causes, precautions to take, and methods for fixing it. Learn more by reading on!

What Does PCB Delamination Mean?

The base material layers start to separate from one another as a PCB delaminates. Whenever delamination has taken place, its solder mask may seem to have significant areas of discoloration and bubbling if observed on a constructed bare Circuit board or a completely built PCBA. Measling and blistering are two related terms for the same phenomenon – delamination.

The former results in the creation of extremely little delaminated white spots, whilst the latter is almost identical to large-scale delamination. This is an illustration of an image demonstrating PCB delamination upon that surface layer. Where another top materials layer is starting to split from its base material is the roughly round, discolored area.

What are the PCB Delamination Causes

Exposure to moisture and repeated heat excursions are the primary causes of delamination.

Too much moisture

The most frequent reason for delamination is moisture that has been trapped inside the base materials of the PCB. Humidity can increase in laminate materials stored improperly, and too much humidity inside the Circuit board substrate during production might result in delamination. The hygroscopic nature of Circuit board base materials makes water adsorption into the base materials (uncured) simple.

This may occur if the components are subjected to moisture during storage or if the circumstances are humid.

Delamination isn’t usually the result of too much moisture being trapped inside the board, although it will often lead to conducting anodic filamentation. The electrochemical events that result in the formation of tiny filaments in-between these conductors on the PCB include water.

As a result of this development, wires may cross, resulting in short circuits which destroys the circuit board; the water’s presence will speed up the reaction time. Via microscopic examination (often with the scan electron microscope) of the microsection and directly on its surface layer, CAF could be detected.

Thermal Excursions

The time that a Circuit board is kept at extreme temps is an additional topic to investigate. Delamination throughout assembly may result from repetitive thermal excursions to elevated temperatures, especially when the temperature for glass transition is exceeded. After the printed circuit board has been put together, the PCBA may start to delaminate when it is repeatedly subjected to thermal stress over its temperature of glass transition.

Its wave soldering and reflow profile parameters must be checked to make sure there won’t be too much stress upon the materials of a base pcb during manufacturing in order to avoid delamination. Without causing blisters or splitting on the exterior layers, heat delamination could start in the board’s internal layers. High Tg circuit board materials have to be utilized when there is going to be several soldering cycles and if the board is anticipated to experience significant thermal excursions while in use.

Additional Factors

There isn’t always a single reason why delamination occurs. Alternatively, moisture buildup may be caused by a mix of subpar production techniques, inferior materials, as well as other factors. Something as easy as utilizing FR-4 material including the incorrect Tg type could cause delamination.

What are the Differences Between Measling and PCB Delamination?

taconic laminates

Measling is an additional potential issue in addition to delamination. Because they exhibit several similar symptoms, it can be challenging to distinguish between the two diseases. They do, however, have various root causes and signify various manufacturing issues.

Similar to delamination, measling refers to problems relating to the process of lamination. White spots would form on the PCB weave’s interior if not enough resin is put to the circuit board during lamination. The “measles” are the white dots.

If the Circuit board base materials exhibit elevated blisters, this is delamination and is brought on by an accumulation of dampness. White dots, on the other hand, are measling. The shortage of resin while manufacturing, or high stress anywhere at stage in the Circuit board life cycle, seem to be the two main typical reasons.

The board’s performance is probably certainly hampered by delamination. Fortunately, this is not usually the case for measling. Measling in little amounts is widespread. Your PCB may probably continue operating normally so far the measling does not really bridge soldering eyes or conductors.

Measling will probably happen at some point over the board’s lifespan, but it usually doesn’t cause alarm. Measling, however, could also happen during manufacture, just as delamination. While measling will almost probably happen later, manufacturers must use the proper resin-application processes to assure the Circuit board is built without it.

Tests that Measure PCB Delamination

How can I tell if my Circuit board is defective? Delamination frequently starts out invisible since it takes place within. When you start to see blisters on your circuit board, the functionality has probably already been affected.

The majority of delamination prevention and testing methods take place in the manufacturing process. There are several different tests that may be used to assess PCB delamination or find any potential problems with these base materials.

Producers employ a time testing to measure how long this resin requires to detach either from copper or the reinforcement.

This board is heated to a certain temperature throughout the test, and the length of time it takes for delamination to occur is recorded.

Common temperature ranges for this test are 260° to 288° Celsius. Generally speaking, a 260° test was thought to be the more precise of both. Here, FR-4’s Tg rating also has an impact. Higher amounts of Tg in FR-4 delaminates more quickly than lower ones do.

Methods for Preventing PCB Delamination

The first step in preventing delamination is to understand its causes. Delamination prevention during PCB manufacturing seems equally crucial. Many tactics used during the process of manufacturing are part of prevention.

Dry Production Environments

The first requirement is that the manufacturer keeps the production area dry the entire time. Prior to thermal processing, any oxide layer present on the circuit board should remain dry. Otherwise, the heat will cause any moisture to become a gas, leading to delamination.

Suitable Baking

Boards must then be baked before being thermally processed. The oven’s temperature should be higher than the boiling point of water (100 C). Another crucial factor is the position inside the oven. You shouldn’t stack PCBs. Instead, they need room for movement on all sides.

Employ top-notch components

Even with proper production practices, delamination cannot be prevented with certainty. Even if a manufacturer follows all instructions precisely, layer separation may still occur in the boards. In addition to the steps taken, high-quality materials would also be required.

The board’s interior layers need oxide coating. It serves as an essential barrier of defense against environmental hazards and thermal stress.  For best protection, this oxide coating should be placed uniformly across the Printed circuit boards.

Higher quality solder materials

Excellent thermal conductivity (to ensure they can swiftly transport heat between two places) as well as reduced thermal resistance (to ensure that they won’t absorb excessive heat) are requirements for solder materials. Tin/Silver alloy makes the greatest solder since it possesses both qualities.

Improve your assembling methods

It’s crucial to avoid using too much force or pressure while assembling any electrical device because doing so could harm the board as well as make it prone to delamination.

What are the Important Steps for Delamination Repair


Use wipes to clean the blister’s surface. The micro drill and ball mill should be used to drill a minimum of two holes through the delamination blister. These holes ought to be placed across from one another and all the way around that blister. Also, t hey ought to be free of any circuitry or components as well. After drilling, remove any loose material by brushing.

Drilling too deeply could expose its inner circuits or planes; proceed with caution. Also, keep in mind that abrasive processes might cause static charges.

To get rid of any moisture, bake your circuit board inside the oven. Avoid letting it cool prior to actually inserting the epoxy since condensation could occur and trap moisture within once more. Be careful since some electrical components can be damaged by high heat. Take care not to turn up the heat

The epoxy should be poured inside the cartridge and then injected into a drilled hole. The heat inside the Circuit board should assist disperse the epoxy, pulling it inside the vacant area so as to fill up the space.

If such a blister cannot be filled, lightly press the board. Start at its fill hole then move to the hole of the vent slowly. Instead, you may apply vacuum to this vent hole for pulling the epoxy as well as fill any void.

Also, cure this epoxy either for one hour at a temperature of 74°C or 165°F) or for 24 hours at room temperature. Scrape off the excess epoxy with a knife or scraper.

How can you tell whether the PCB is harmed or whether PCB delamination takes place?


Delamination is present if your gadget feels warm to the touch or becomes too warm when being used. These copper traces present on your circuit board may become detached from its base material due to heat produced by the different electronic components. Short circuits or even fire risks may result from this.


Another indication of PCB delamination is if the device emits cracking noises whenever you touch or move it. Little copper foil pieces that come off your board and generate a crackling sound could harm the device’s circuitry and lead to other problems.


Another sign that the PCB has been affected by delamination is corrosion. Delamination-induced corrosion may be the origin of spots on your device’s surface where there shouldn’t be any markings.

Why does the PCB Delaminate when being Reflow soldered?

PCB Multilayer Pressing equipment
PCB Multilayer Pressing equipment

The main cause of FR4 PCB delamination during reflow soldering is moisture in the FR4 material, which has swelled and caused the separation of the internal layers.

Ensuring the right material grade is being utilized with the right specifications for the planned assembly procedure is crucial.

Although moisture may cause its FR4 layers to split, the primary source of the issue is frequently a flaw that occurred during the manufacturing process of the PCB.

Since the FR4 material is indeed “Hygroscopic” that will collect moisture from its environment, vacuum sealing is recommended after PCB fabrication. If there are questions about how the PCBs were sealed, they must be pre-baked to remove the moisture before assembly in accordance with the IPC 1601 guidelines.


Hope you understand what causes PCB delamination and how to prevent it. In electronics, PCB delamination can be described as a prevalent issue. It is brought on by a glue holding the PCB’s layers together, which may seriously harm your device’s performance. The good thing is the availability of solutions to stop this issue from occurring! Knowing what and how to check for it will enable you to ensure that the PCB is protected from delamination




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