Printed circuit boards, once they reach the end of their usability, become, just like any other fabricated man-made object, waste. When these things become waste, there should be a way for people to eliminate them properly. However, since printed circuit boards are mostly synthetic material and do not actually decompose unlike all organic materials such as food, eliminating these products, and actually electronic devices in general, can be somewhat of a challenge.
In addition, because of the fact that electronic devices that include printed circuit boards cannot simply be burned because of how toxic the smoke could be, there should be a plan in order to properly recycle these materials.
The steps involved in creating printed circuit boards involve a lot of processes in itself. Mostly, manufacturing companies heavily rely on a process called the subtractive method, wherein the circuit boards are made by removing some parts of a material and leaving out only what is important. The removed materials during the process of making these circuit boards then become waste, and are therefore disposed of immediately.
Nowadays, the process of recycling the materials used for the creation of circuit boards has become as complex as the production itself. Mainly, recovery is the main idea for the processes involved in recycling the used materials.
Manufacturers such as those located in Taiwan mainly focus their recycling processes in the recovery of precious metals and copper that was removed because that was considered as an excess. Even though we can consider the recycling of these materials as self-sustaining in an economic sense, there are still movements being made which aim at elevating the level of technology and strengthening the capabilities of the industry of recycling.
Recovery of some precious metals in the waste water disposed by manufacturing companies has become significant because of the amount of metals that the waste water contains. Studies have shown that as much as two tons of precious metals, including copper, which is used as the base of circuit boards, is eliminated as part of waste every day in circuit board manufacturing companies. Therefore, managing to recycle and being able to use the materials again enables the companies to not only provide themselves with new materials to use for their production of high quality PCB, but it also helps them in an economic sense, given that companies also have the option of selling these metals.
The waste water that leaves a manufacturing plant contains a very high amount of Cu2+, as well as tiny traces of other metal ions. Improvements in keeping the purity of recycled copper can be made by separating the Cu ions from other metals in the mix. This is eventually recycled to become copper oxides before being sold to either other manufacturers or to smelters.
Another thing that can be done in order to recycle is to prepare the particles of Cu0 directly from the waste water where they are concentrated. This process greatly affects the quality of the product in a very positive way. The particles of Cu0 can be of great use for the preparation of magneto resistant materials, high temperature superconductors, catalysts, gas sensors, magnetic storage media, cathode materials, and p-type semiconductors. The nano particles of Cu0 are prepared by purifying the waste water in order to remove most of the ion impurities that it may have.
With the existence of recycled metals being significant in both keeping the quality of electronic products high and helping save the environment by eliminating less waste, manufacturing companies are helped in their task of making sure that no dangerous by-products are produced and all no important material in the production of these products goes to waste.