How Are Old Printed Circuit Boards Recycled

How Are Old Printed Circuit Boards Recycled

Aug 25,2020

Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are widely used in several industries from consumer electronics to military and aerospace among others. As new and compact electronic devices are flooding the market, the usage of PCB has grown rapidly and the demand is expected to grow further. The flip side to all this is there is a large amount of electronic waste being produced annually, which is going to only increase day-by-day. Electronic waste or e-waste is becoming the largest waste type produced on earth today. It comes with its own risk and needs to be disposed of or destroyed carefully and following the set rules. Some parts can also be recycled and this is an extremely important step to reduce piling of e-waste and contributing environmental conservation. Being an integral part of any electronic device, PCBs account for the highest percentage of the total weight among those components dismantled to form e-waste. Waste PCBs, sometimes referred to as old printed circuit boards, contain organic matters, heavy metal, and chemical residuals, causing a serious threat to human health as well as environment. This makes recycling of old printed circuit boards crucial. The old PCBs can be removed from devices and reused to build new circuits. This post throws light on how old printed circuit boards be recycled or reused.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Recycling Old Printed Circuit Boards

Before getting into how can we reuse e old PCBs, it is important to understand what all things are required to remove and recycle the circuit board components. The list includes a soldering iron, a set of pliers, a de-soldering pump, and a vise grip. This section explores each step involved in old PCB recycling.

  • Hold the PCB:

    First of all, place the circuit board in the vice grip with the component side facing you, and start rotating the lever. This allows jaws of the vice hold the circuit board in one place.

  • De-soldering Board Components:

    Next, select the board component you would like to reuse and place the board vertically between vice jaws with the solder side facing you. With a permanent marker pen, outline the solder pads on the circuit board that you wish to de-solder. Afterwards, start applying the tip of the soldering iron to the marked solder pad for a couple of seconds and apply solder wire to it. Once it is done, place a copper wick on the solder pad and put the tip of the soldering iron on the top. This should remove the solder from the solder pad and onto the copper wick.

  • Removing the Components:

    When all the solder has been removed, turn the circuit board with the component side facing you. Using a plier, gently bring out the large component so that leads don’t get bent or twisted. After removing the large components on the board, start removing the smaller components such as resistors, capacitors, and diodes.

  • Break the Circuit Boards:

    After removing all the components, start making customized circuit boards.

  • Downsizing and Cutting:

    Start outlining the circuit board with a permanent marker pen. Cut the old printed circuit board as per your requirement. While making cuts, do leave some copper paths to add a header or outer pins to it.

  • Scrapping and Drilling:

    After the board has been cut, start scrapping the green layer with a blade. Once it is done, you will see the copper path to which the header pins are soldered to connect the cut-out board. Now, start drilling holes into these solder pads.

  • Soldering Components and Header Pins:

    Once drilled, you can solder the components as well as the header pins into their respective slots, making your custom board complete.

What Are the Uses of Recycled Components?

With de-soldered components, one can build even robots. These components can be recognized by looking at the symbols under, which can then be matched with the schematic symbols on the internet.

If you’re someone who prefers new PCB assembly than the reuse of old printed circuit boards, then you can get in touch with one of the industry leaders like Creative Hi-Tech. They manufacture high-quality PCBs and offer end-to-end PCB assembly solutions

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