Guidelines for the proper storage, handling and moisture protection of electronic components can be found in the standards IPC/JEDEC J-STD-033C. Though these date back to 1999, there were no published standards for storage and moisture protection for printed boards until 2010, and their proper handling is still often overlooked, even though with the correct storage control and the use of suitable drying methods, considerable manufacturing advantages can be gained: PCBs will remain solderable for much longer and damage during reflow due to moisture can be eliminated.
Historically, the printed board industry relied on military specifications and guidelines to define the packaging methods used to preserve the quality and reliability of PCBs during shipment and storage. Over time, of course, many of these documents became obsolete, were found to be incomplete, didn’t address leadfree assembly, or did not provide guidance for newer laminates or final finishes. Additionally, the proliferation of alternative final finishes has produced concerns and requirements for printed board packaging and handling to preserve the finish and assure good solderability.
Over the decades that passed since the J-STD-033 standard was created, new technologies were developed and proven to safely reset component floor life using low temperatures and ultra-low humidity without requiring extensive time. These 40-60°C and <1% methods were first adopted in Europe, and their recognition and use has now spread to North America. The same methods applied to components are now applied to PCBs and the industry standard IPC-1601A (2016 revision) offers Printed Board Handling and Storage Guidelines.