Printed Circuit Board Manufacturers

How to Recycle a PCB – Part I

Apr 06, 2016

Printed circuit boards are considered extremely important products by recycling organizations. The reason is that the boards are designed with a variety of valuable materials. A few examples include solder, gold, nickel, tin metal, palladium, and different types of copper (oxide, hydroxide, and sulfate solutions). Also, many PCB liquids like strong inks and acids are considered hazardous under environmental regulations. Hence, it is important to properly recycle printed circuit boards.


Just as the manufacturing process is a detailed one, the PCB recycling process comprises different stages. As it will not be possible to explain every process in one post, we are providing you a series of posts, which will elucidate on the different stages of the PCB recycling process.

PCB Dismantling for Management Purposes

A printed circuit board comprises a variety of expensive components, as well as hazardous substances. These need to be separated from the PCB to ensure that the components can be recycled and reused. The following points elaborate the steps to dismantle a PCB.

  • Remove the Exterior Components: The first stage of the recycling process involves disassembling the PCB and sorting the components. The first components that should be removed are the exterior cables, capacitors, cell batteries, and engineered plastics. The batteries and capacitors should be removed manually, and disposed of separately. The other components can be removed using mechanical separation, which is an industrial operation for separating components and elements.
  • Separate the Electronic Components: Semi-automatic approaches are utilized to separate electronic components from the PCB. A variety of soldered connections help keep the components in place. A combination of shearing, heating, and impact and vibration forces can be used to open the connections. When using a heating apparatus, the temperature has to be up to 122o
  • Physical Recycling – PCB Size Reduction: Materials such as ceramics, glass fibers, resins, and metals can be used as fillers in new PCB resin matrix composites. To remove these from an old PCB, it is necessary to reduce the board’s size, so that the material fragments can be collected. First, the PCB needs to be cut into pieces between 1 and 2 cm using a shredder. This will quicken the recycling process. Next, use, cutting mills to break down the large pieces into particle sized pieces (about 5 or 10 mm). Use a sieve and plate at the bottom of the mill to collect the materials.
  • Separate the Metallic and Non-metallic Particles: Use a magnetic or drum separator, or even Eddy or electrostatic currents to separate the ferromagnetic metals from the non-ferrous materials.

With these steps, the first stage of the PCB recycling process is complete. In the next post, we will elaborate on the different processes used to recycle chemicals within a PCB.

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Creative Hi-Tech has been a long time partner with our Vertex project and has maintained a very good Quality & Delivery performance over the years here at Honeywell. In these turbulent times they have been a stablizing force in supporting our needs.”

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Creative Hi-Tech is a great business partner. Creative is very responsive to any request and very flexible. They have helped us through several tough situations and we greatly appreciate their ability to get the job done.”

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Creative Hi-Tech is easy to work with, very customer oriented, and always willing to push to make on time deliveries.”

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Creative Hi-Tech has been a  long time partner with our  Vertex project and has maintained a very good  Quality & Delivery performance  over the years here at  Honeywell.  In these  turbulent  times, they have  been a  stabilising force  in  supporting  our  needs.”

- Richard S. – LED Lighting Manufacturer

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