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Are Chemical –Free PCBs the Next Big Thing?

Are Chemical –Free PCBs the Next Big Thing?

Aug 22,2016

Today, consumers understand theimportance of chemical-free products and items. They expect productmanufacturers to follow eco-friendly business practices, human-friendlyproduction techniques, and chemical-free formulations. It is nodifferent for circuit board assembly services, or printed circuitboards. Many first time consumers are unaware of the types of chemicalsand assembly processes employed in PCB manufacturing. This postdiscusses common PCB chemicals and their effects, and most popularchemical-free PCBs.

Chemicals Used in PCB Assembly and Manufacturing

Many types of chemicals are used in PCBmanufacturing. Most of them have a severe effect on the lives of peopleworking with them, or using these PCBs. This section lists some of thecommonly used chemical compounds used in PCB manufacturing, and how theyaffect human lives.

  • Cupric Chloride: This chemical is used as anetching solution in PCB. Cupric chloride can cause severe eye irritationwhen a person rubs his eyes after touching it.
  • Zinc Chloride: Zinc chloride is used as a flux inprinted circuit boards. This chemical can cause eye problems, breathingproblems, and may affect the heart as well as lungs. If a personinhales zinc chloride, it may cause pulmonary edema and severe stomachproblems as well.
  • Cobalt Sulfamate: Cobalt sulfamate is used in electrolytic plating of PCBs. This plating agent can cause skin and eye irritations.
  • Bromine: Bromine is used as a flame retardant inPCBs. High concentrations of bromine can cause skin irritations, burns,dizziness, and headaches.
  • Chlorine: Various types of chlorine basedsubstrates are used in PCB manufacturing. Regular exposure to thischemical can cause watery eyes, nausea, headaches, skin irritations,burns, and dizziness. Also, disposal of bromine, chlorine, orhalogen-based PCB becomes difficult because they produce toxic fumes onburning.
  • Lead: The lead is used as a soldering agent inPCBs. The tin-lead is used to prevent oxidation in copper circuits. Thelead produces toxic fumes during the soldering process, and it may causebreathing problems, and other severe health issues.

Types of Chemical-Free PCBs Available for Purchase

Today, various types of chemical-free PCBs are available in the market. Some of the common ones include:

  • Lead-free PCBS: Many PCB manufacturers arereplacing tin-lead finishing agents with non-toxic surface finishes suchas tin copper alloy to make them user-friendly.
  • RoHs Compliant: This means the circuit boardunder consideration contains no cadmium, mercury, polybrominatedbiphenyls, or hexavalent chromium. The lead-free soldering is replacedwith electroplated gold, electroless nickel immersion gold, white tinfinishes, etc.
  • Halogen-Free PCBs: Halogen substrates are used tolaminate PCBs during the manufacturing process. These substrates cannotbe easily recycled. This is why halogen-free PCBs are gainingprominence. These PCBs are environment-friendly, and offer severalbenefits.

In the next post, we will discuss the benefits of chemical-free PCBs and how they contribute to the green world.


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