Some top tips from Jo Johnson on how to spot the good from the bad….

I’m often asked how to identify the better boards from a mix of PCB’s. Many of our customers like to be in a position to buy with confidence, so we try and offer certain guidelines to help!
There are three factors governing the grading of PCB scrap:

  • Age
  • Purpose of PCB
  • Manufacturer

As with many things in life, older material is often better! Look out for ceramic IC’s and processors as opposed to modern plastic versions.

Feel the underside of the board. A smooth back usually indicates modern, surface mount technology, whereas sharp, soldered component legs sticking through the board are another indicator of age and therefore higher values.

Look for “busy boards” - lots of components and also a known manufacturers name.

Height is another quality indicator. Look at the board sideways, most components should be relatively flat to the board. Large “tower” capacitors and power units are usually a bad sign.

Gold plated surfaces can be mis-leading. Bright “shiny” gold on modern boards is extremely thinly plated, as opposed to the older, “duller” looking gold on “piano key” edge connectors and sockets.

Often the best boards are to be found in ex-military equipment and high tech (e.g. aerospace) industry arisings. Mass produced consumer electronics are usually poor. Telecoms, I.T. and mobile technology is usually good. Automotive, domestic and power supply are usually on the poor side.

The overriding point is that there are no “hard and fast” rules concerning PCB pricing.

The costs of full analysis on individual PCB’s is prohibitive and therefore grading and segregation give the best valuation available.

At Phoenix we report the weights and grades/prices offered for your consignment. Your PCB’s are not mixed or processed until an agreement has been reached. If we are unable to agree, then the material can be returned, unprocessed to you.

Please send photos or samples of your material for prompt indication with no obligation or costs.

As always, if you have any questions , please contact Jo at jo@pcm-ltd.co.uk