Circuit Technology Center

Component Salvage

There are a whole lot of reasons why circuit boards are scrapped, and it safe to say that none of them are good. At Circuit Technology Center we're in the business of saving circuit boards. We're able to correct most levels of design and fabrication errors, or physical damage that would cause a circuit board to be scrapped.

However, there are circumstances beyond rework and repair that cause a circuit board to become non-functional. Does that make that circuit board worthless junk? Maybe not.

In the unfortunate event a board is no longer useful you still may wish to salvage some of the more valuable components for reuse elsewhere. Recovering the soldered components from the circuit board safely, and in a condition for reuse can be challenging.

Component salvage or reclamation is becoming more commonplace and the value of many components provides easy justification for the effort associated with reclaiming them.

When reviewing applications for component salvage it is important to understand all of the requirements. "The devil is in the detail" certainly holds true here; sometimes the littlest things can complicate the process.

Important questions to ask yourself when considering a salvage project. What environmental elements have the circuit boards and components been exposed to? What is the moisture sensitivity level? If the circuit boards and components were newly assembled, and have been in a controlled environment then it will probably eliminate the need to bake the components prior to exposure to the reflow process for removal from the circuit boards.

If the circuit boards have been held in open storage, or are field returns, or the moisture sensitivity level of the components deems it necessary, a pre-bake of the components will be required prior to exposure to reflow temperature to eliminate damage due to moisture entrapment.

Are the circuit boards and components conformally coated or is there an under-fill applied? The impact conformal coating and under-fill have on the component salvage process can be significant.

What is the ESD sensitivity level? It's assumed that all components should be handled with proper ESD precautions. There are different levels of ESD sensitivity, and understanding the components that you are working with is important. The component specification sheet will normally provide the level of detail you'll need. What temperature range can the component withstand?

Component salvage can be completed with a variety of processes consisting of localized hot air, molten solder on mini-wave machines, as well as conduction heat from a soldering iron, or desoldering tool. All relatively sound processes when performed by a trained operator.

Will the components be machine, or hand placed in the upcoming re-assembly process? It is important to know the assembly process to be used with the salvaged components. If the salvaged components are to be hand soldered, as opposed to machine placed, then the criteria for residual solder left on the leads, and lead co-planarity can be adjusted.

What about packaging, trays, tubes or tape and reel? Often overlooked is the need for safe packaging of the salvaged components.

Answering these questions will help in establishing the quality requirements and set the stage for a successful recovery process.


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