The life of electronic devices cease as soon as they cannot be used anymore despite repairs and replacement to their components. Usually, these devices end up being turned into scrap metal and then their parts are melted so that those can be used in making another device. Despite the loss, it is still good to know that the printed circuit boards, or PCBs, used by these devices can still be recycled and used in (or turned into) other devices. This suggests the idea that electronic devices may lose their life, but these boards that gave life to these devices can still be used to give life to other devices of their kind. However, this process can be quite challenging, because along with the recovery of these items comes the possibility of damaging another or risking the welfare of people.
For instance, when computers break down, their parts may or may not be used, depending on the wear-and-tear that they went through, but their printed circuit boards can still be used by other computers. This is the reason why there are shops that, while repairing computers, use spare circuit boards to keep them working just like brand new ones. The same goes for cellular phones, and of course, tablets. However, doing this does not guarantee that the devices where the recycled boards are installed will work the same way they did before installing such, because these boards perform according to the components attached therein. For instance, a laptop computer that runs using up-to-date components may lose its current performance when its circuit board is replaced with one that has outdated components. Thus, in recycling these boards, one has to be very careful on what to use and install to maintain (or improve) performance.
Printed circuit boards are recycled not just because of the board itself, but also because of the components attached to it which are made up of metals, some of which may be difficult to find or too costly to refine. Also, they are recycled because they can serve other purposes aside from being a support to electronic devices. For instance, because of the substantial amount of metals such as copper, lead, silver, and gold found in these boards, they can be unsoldered and converted into metals which can be used for manufacturing components, and the boards from which the old components were attached can again be used as support for newly manufactured electric components. Also, the metals contained in these boards can be recovered, and the boards can then be used as construction materials.
Recycling printed circuit boards, however, involves a lot of risks and consequences. For instance, workers which are assigned to recycle these boards have to be exposed to different chemicals, which can be very detrimental to their health and well being. Recycling these boards will also mean more chemicals and worse, more waste to be disposed of. Also recycling means higher expenses for recovery, unsoldering, melting, and reforming them to usable materials because it consumes a lot of energy and requires tons of effort. Another consequence of recycling these boards is the possibility of recovering fewer metals and at times, recovering metals which are already of subpar quality.
The choice of recycling printed circuit boards must be made very carefully, because dealing with the activity itself may bring both advantages and disadvantages not only to the users of electronic devices, but also to the people involved in the recycling process. While the only purpose of recycling these boards is to lessen costs and to conserve resources, it can also give rise to events detrimental to everyone.
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