Chemical Recycling as Part of a Zero-effluent Strategy


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Green manufacturing methodologies for PCBs are becoming a global shift. Green efforts have been underway in the European Union for quite some time. Likewise, in the United States, new PCB manufacturers are building zero-waste, zero-effluent facilities and gaining certification as such. Furthermore, in China, government mandates are transforming the amount of pollutants tolerated from PCB manufacturing down to nearly zero or face forced relocation from populated areas.

In this article, I will examine some of the key areas of improvement in chemical recycling that you should consider as you move your fabrication facility toward green and zero effluent manufacturing. For the scope of this article, I will use GreenSource Fabrication’s New Hampshire facility as our primary example.

New Example of Green for Printed Circuit Fabrication

To build a new PCB manufacturing facility in New Hampshire, GreenSource had to guarantee the government that they would be zero-effluent. While engineering the concepts of no effluents and being mindful of Six Sigma and Lean principles, the process is fully automated with minimal process delays and no handling by employees, thus being an excellent example of Lean plus green! The two go hand-in-hand.

The new facility does not require waste permits because there were no water emissions. Water is recycled, as are many of the chemicals, reducing costs. The totally automated process requires only seven technicians to monitor the machinery and a total of 17 staff people for the entire multilayer facility. As seen in Figure 1, the bulk of the PCB processing is conducted in numerous automated machines connected by conveyors or AGVs.

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Figure 1: The main high-volume PCB processes are automated on several conveyorized systems from the materials warehouse (an automated storage and retrieval system, or AS/RS) through final solder mask and fabrication.

This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue of PCB007 Magazine, click here.

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