To meet the increasing demand for smaller, more powerful, and complex electronics, PCB designers are under pressure to create boards that are both reliable and sustainable. This can be a challenge, as many of the design choices that maximize performance can be less environmentally friendly. However, with a little extra effort, it is possible to create circuits that are both high-performing and sustainable. In this column, I will explore some of the key factors to consider when designing sustainable PCBs.
Sustainability in the Supply Chain
As experts on PCB sustainability in the supply chain, we believe that it is critical to take full responsibility throughout the supply chain. We work closely with our long-term production partners to improve work and safety conditions, as well as environmental responsibility in the factories.
By continuously improving sustainability performance across the supply chain, we can help ensure a more stable and resilient future for all stakeholders involved. Whether it's increasing recycling rates or developing more energy-efficient manufacturing processes, there are countless ways that we can support sustainability within the PCB supply chain.
In the past, the electronics industry has come under scrutiny for the sometimes poor working and living conditions of those employed throughout the supply chain, as well as the environmental impacts of manufacturing. It is essential that we take steps to address these issues and make sure that our products are made sustainably and responsibly.
As we continue to pursue these efforts, we are confident that we will make significant progress toward achieving our goal of creating a more sustainable future for all.
Getting the Design Right from the Start
There should be a significant focus on achieving a sustainable PCB design right from the very beginning. This maximizes the likelihood of the board being designed in the best possible way and reduces the possibility of the board being scrapped, thus minimizing material waste and chemicals used in the manufacturing process. We also save on energy consumption during production. It all starts with choosing the right specifications for the design and selecting the best manufacturing partner.
It is also essential to offer efficient logistics and on-time deliveries, so that the entire manufacturing process is as smooth and streamlined as possible. The ultimate goal is to create a high-quality, environmentally-friendly product—and that starts with getting the PCB design right from the start.
Working With the Right Supplier
As mentioned earlier, working with the supplier is essential to optimizing PCB production. The right supplier will be able to provide you with the expertise and knowledge you need to deliver high-quality and sustainable PCB designs.
With a focus on sustainability, it is also essential to work closely with your suppliers in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions during PCB manufacturing and adhere to the requirements of the Paris Agreement. This can involve anything from tracking environmental impacts throughout the supply chain, working with suppliers who have good environmental practices and initiatives, and implementing tools or processes that promote sustainable manufacturing.
This commitment is driven by our deep understanding of the impact that climate change has on communities around the world. We believe that collaboration with suppliers is essential in mitigating these impacts and taking a holistic approach when evaluating potential partners. Through regular audits and ongoing communication, the aim should be to work closely with suppliers to identify opportunities for improvement and ensure that everyone involved fully understands their role in reaching PCB production sustainability goals.
Choosing the Right Materials
When it comes to selecting the right materials, there are a few key factors that need to be considered. These include things like environmental appropriateness, material impact assessments, and setting long-term objectives, performance targets, and key performance indicators (KPIs). Additionally, there should be a focus on areas such as waste management and sustainable product offerings to optimize the PCB manufacturing process.
Through careful material selection and a detailed materiality assessment process, your supplier should be able to identify the impacts of products on the environment and take steps to minimize these impacts. In addition, they must also stay up to date on industry best practices in terms of waste management and business travel so that as a society we can continually improve our environmental performance.
For example, to help us achieve our long-term sustainability goals, NCAB has set clear performance targets and established KPIs that allow us to measure our progress over time. Additionally, we are constantly working to develop new sustainable product offerings for our customers, ensuring that they can make environmentally responsible choices. Whether you are looking to minimize your own environmental impact or find the right materials for your business, your supplier should help guide you on this journey toward a more sustainable future and more sustainable PCB design.
PCB manufacturing is one of the most important aspects of electronics production. The right decisions made in the early stages of a project can have a positive impact on sustainability in the supply chain and create efficiencies throughout the supply chain. By working with an experienced supplier versed in sustainability, they can help provide you with guidance on selecting materials and designing for manufacturability, so you can ensure that your product is not only high quality and high reliability, but also sustainable.
Ramon Roche is a field application engineer for NCAB Group in the southeast regional office.