Biodegradable PCBs: The Future Is Here

May 9, 2022
Biodegradable PCBs: the future is here

One of the biggest concerns that people have today is about the environment’s future. Everyone is trying to do their part, whether that’s buying less, recycling more, or taking the plunge and buying an electric vehicle. We also have events like “Earth Day” and options to safely dispose of things like hazardous waste instead of just dumping everything into the garbage.

However, helping save the environment isn’t a task that private citizens can do alone! That’s why companies need to do their part as well. After all, companies are much larger than individual households, so they have a much more significant impact on the environment than an individual household would.

At Circuits Central, one service we offer is circuit board prototyping, and we’re always looking for ways to try out new ideas in our circuit board prototyping area. One new and exciting form of printed circuit boards (PCBs) currently being worked on is biodegradable PCBs.

In this article, we’ll answer the following questions:

  • How does PCB manufacturing and disposal impact the environment?
  • What components are used to create biodegradable PCBs?
  • What are some concerns associated with biodegradable PCBs?

Biodegradable PCBs are just one of the ways that PCBs are improving. If you’re looking for the latest in circuit board prototyping, come to Circuits Central! We’re always striving to be on the cutting edge of circuit board prototyping,

How does PCB manufacturing and disposal impact the environment?

Both the manufacturing and disposal of PCBs can affect the environment.

Manufacturing PCBs is a very energy-intensive and high-emission process, so a lot of pollution can be created during production.

Disposing of PCBs can also affect the environment. The metal in PCBs can be separated and reused, but this also has an environmental impact. There are two different ways to separate the metals, but both of them have issues:

  • Metals can be separated from circuit boards via incineration; however, this process releases toxic gases. Some of the most commonly used metals in PCBs are mercury, cadmium, lead, and beryllium. These metals can cause brain damage and cancer if they are improperly disposed of by releasing toxic substances into the air.
  • Another way that metals can be separated for reuse is by using acid. However, this option creates a large amount of acidic wastewater.

What components are used to create biodegradable PCBs?

Some of the components that can be part of a biodegradable PCB are:

  • Magnesium paste and tungsten page.
  • Sodium Carboxymethylcellulose (Na-CMC) substrates.
  • Polyethylene Oxide (PEO) bonding layer.
  • Bio-composites, which are made from natural cellulose fibres extracted from banana stems, wheat gluten, or chicken feathers. These bio-composites are chemical-free.

The most significant benefit of biodegradable PCBs is that they will drastically cut down on the number of toxic materials used in PCBs. This means that the manufacturing and disposal process of a biodegradable PCB will have a far lower impact on the environment than the manufacturing and disposal process of a conventional PCB.

What are some concerns associated with biodegradable PCBs?

As with any circuit board prototyping, biodegradable PCBs have potential issues. After all, the first circuit board ever created wasn’t perfect—that’s why we have circuit board prototyping to work out issues before mass production!

These are some potential concerns associated with biodegradable PCBs; however, most of them are unfounded:

  • That the PCBs won’t be strong or durable enough. It takes some getting used to the idea that a PCB that contains components made from banana fibres or chicken feathers could work! Nevertheless, developers trying to create biodegradable PCBs can create boards similar in strength to conventional boards by combining substrate materials.
  • The PCBs won’t be able to provide solid thermal performance or, even worse, catch on fire as biomaterials have low-temperature thresholds. A way to work around this issue is low-temperature soldering.
  • That biodegradable PCBs won’t perform the same way as conventional boards for dielectric constants. A dielectric constant measures the ability of a substance to store electrical energy in an electric field. There’s good news in this area: biodegradable boards perform at the same level as traditional boards.
  • That biodegradable boards won’t be able to perform in extreme conditions. There have been no issues with biodegradable boards that are exposed to high humidity or high temperatures in tests, and there have also been no issues with heat dissipation.

How can Circuits Central help me with circuit board prototyping?

At Circuits Central, we offer a variety of different services, including:

Before you can get your PCB design finalized and ready to share with the world, it’s essential to go through the vital step of circuit board prototyping. A prototype will allow you to see how well your circuit board will work, and enable you to start figuring out where your PCB excels and where it will need improvement.

As well, you don’t have to worry about spending a lot of money when it comes to circuit board prototyping! We don’t have a minimum required for building quantity assembly, and we offer a fully supported and stocked Octoparts Common Parts Library. We can also turn your prototype around in as little as 24 hours.

Biodegradable PCBs: The Way of the Future

At Circuits Central, we’re always looking toward the future, and we enjoy seeing new and innovative PCBs in our circuit board prototyping department. In this article, we’ve explained to you:

  • How the PCB manufacturing and disposal process impacts the environment.
  • The unique components that can be used to create biodegradable PCBs.
  • What concerns can be associated with biodegradable PCBs.

We can help you with your circuit board prototyping, no matter what step of the process you’re in. To learn more about our printed circuit board prototyping services, call us at 1 (888) 602-7264, or fill out our contact form.

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