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Why do electronics devices fail?


Frequently Asked Questions

Electronics devices, components and boards are required to fulfil a desired performance for a defined period of time. This enables manufacturers to give a predicted lifetime on their products, and suppliers to provide warranties without fear of too many early failures.

Within the electronics field there are three recognised regimes of failure: early failure (infant mortality), random failure and wearout (giving the classic bathtub reliability curve - see Fig.1).

Early failures occur as a result of flaws introduced within the manufacturing process, due to intermittent malfunction of equipment, problems with material supply, etc. These failures need early detection though burn-in or environmental stress screening so that the components do not make their way to customers.

Random failures are proportional to the component population and can only truly be found by retrieval from the field.

Wearout is the natural end-of-life of a component, board or system related to physical phenomena as a result of materials interaction with the environment. This regime of failure is of particular concern in denoting the lifetime of the product. It is possible to describe wearout mechanisms mathematically allowing the concept of reliability and, hence, lifetime prediction.

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Further information

FAQ: How do I test for reliability of my electronics products?

FAQ: What is burn-in testing related to electronics devices?

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