Technology News
Published March 3, 2022

R&D Project Spotlight: Condition Assessment of Used Electronics for Remanufacturing

Electronics are an integral part of every industry sector from healthcare to aerospace, automotive, consumer electronics, and more. There is tremendous value in developing ways to reuse printed circuit board assemblies (PCBs) in remanufactured products, resulting in reduced cost and environmental impact.

During remanufacturing, a previously used, worn, or non-functional product or part is returned to “like-new” or “better-than-new” condition from both a quality and performance perspective. One factor that limits remanufacturing is the inability to detect solder joint and interconnect failures in printed circuit boards (PCBs). Although these defects, which account for 13% of all electronics failures, can be easily and effectively repaired once they have been identified, detecting these types of failures on used electronics is costly because inspections are performed manually.

To reduce this barrier and increase the number of PCBs that can be remanufactured, the R&D project team evaluated several inspection methods to determine whether they successfully identified defects and could be cost-effectively implemented. The team is currently building an inspection system and decision support tool that will be validated at one of the team member’s remanufacturing facilities.

Once implemented, this technology is expected to increase PCB remanufacturing by 25-35% and reduce embodied energy by 30%.

Project Participants:

RIT, Caterpillar, CoreCentric Solutions