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Everything you need to know about PCB traceability


Whether it’s for product redesign or recall campaigns, traceability is a crucial element of production and quality control at the highest level. In certain industries, such as medical and aerospace, PCB traceability is critical.

Different traceability systems

Different traceability systems

What is PCB traceability ?
In every industry, absence of traceability has always led to unnecessary consumption of resources like time, people, money, etc. Traceability represents the most effective quality tool available. Unique traceability demands are accelerating from other branches using “Lean Inventory Management” or similar systems to trace any movement of components and PCBs throughout every step of their assembly production. Using a QR or Barcode reader at every production step enables a complete overview of a product with hundreds or thousands of small parts.

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Different traceability markings

What can be found on the QR code or barcode?
All English letters and Arabic numbers can be encoded in a QR code. The QR code and barcode marking information is transmitted to the PCB manufacturer within the PCB specification file. In this marking, all information that the customer requires, place of production, materials used, etc., is included.

There are two options for marking, either with dedicated screen printing equipment on top of the solder mask or by laser engraving into the solder mask. Most of our AVL suppliers have either ink screen printers or laser engraving equipment to create traceability marking on the PCB. Traceability markings normally has no additional cost when done with ink screen printing, as it can be done in the same process as normal screen printing on the PCB, but when the customer prefers laser engraving, there will be a small additional charge for this process. The resolution of laser engraving is higher than ink screen printing.

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