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Electronics news

Pure Vitrimer Printed Circuit Boards

A new type of printed circuit board, is being made by a team of researchers led by the University of Washington, from the environmentally friendly polymer vitrimer.

The polymer can be dissolved for easy recycling, allowing the material to be effectively reused.

Printed circuit boards are composed of a sustainable polymer called vitrimer. With a simple process, it can be turned into high-quality printed circuit board layers by bonding it to sheets of fiberglass. But when it comes into contact with a solvent, the vitrimer turns into a jelly-like substance and dissolves. The researchers found that using this technique, they could recover 100% of the glass fiber, 98% of the vitrimer and 91% of the solvent for reuse. Unlike traditional plastics, vitrimer does not break down during recycling, so it can be reused indefinitely.

The manufacturing process for these new PCBs is very similar to that of traditional boards. Therefore, the transition to the new technologies should not be difficult for manufacturers. Moreover, experiments have shown that the electrical properties of the PCBs are quite good and comparable to a PCB made from FR-4, the most commonly used material today. Considering these factors, this type of recyclable PCB may start to be used in electronic devices in the future.

When it comes time to recycle the board, it is a relatively clean and environmentally friendly process. Researchers have estimated that recycling new circuit boards will result in an 81% reduction in carcinogenic emissions compared to FR-4 PCBs.