Electronic circuit boards are used in almost everything electronics, cellular phones to computers, and televisions and light switches. Despite this, many still believe that recycling electronic circuit boards is a straightforward process. However, the truth is that the PCB disassembly is as equally complex as the applications for the boards themselves. The recycling process involves disassembly into base materials, sortation of those materials, and separate recycling of each individual material. This last step can involve copper, wire, aluminum, gold, and nickel recycling.
In addition to this reality, here are some things about processing used PCBs that you should know about:
- Printed circuit boards can come to a nickel recycling facility in three ways: single-sided, double-sided, and multi-layered. The simplest PCBs are known as a single-layer PCB that has copper wires on just one side of the board’s surface.
- In general, double or multi-layered boards have drill holes of more than 10 mils in diameter while they must have a minimum of 5 mils for trace widths as well as air gaps for proper board functioning. This should be in 0.062 inches in size and should have standard FR-4.
The Various Recycling Techniques
When it comes to recycling PCBs, it can be done in many steps and processes. Some nickel recycling companies use a method of breaking down their PCBs based on the customer’s preferences. After this stage, what comes next is material sorting and preparation for crushing, melting, or grinding. Once the method has been decided, the drilling commences in which the recycling technician can choose between through-hole drilling or surface mount technology, depending on the specific design of the board. What follows is the process of complete disassembly of the different board elements and materials.
An additional step addresses instances when the legend is printed on both sides of the board, containing test points, switch settings, and component designators. The purpose of the legend is to help the PCB disassemblers to know where to solter each component off the board, keeping each piece intact that’s specified for its use. And finally, nickel recycling is done to ensure that all nickel elements are salvaged and repurposed in an ethical way.
If you still have some more questions about how nickel recycling is involved in the circuit board disassembly process, get in touch with our experts here at Alnor Industries.