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Smart sorting yields novel PCB recycling approach

The recycling of printed circuit boards (PCBs) could benefit from a deep-learning assisted X-ray imaging approach, reports Markus Firsching of the Fraunhofer Institute.

‘At the moment, no system is available that can estimate the monetary value of used circuit boards. Our team is working on an intelligent and robust automated method that sort these based on features in the DE-XRT images.’

The solution is said to work even in dirty environments making it a promising tool for recyclers. ‘We first created a sample of 104 individual circuit boards,’ Firsching says. ‘Our approach relies on the detection of components that contain valuable materials, like integrated circuits. Think of ball grids, pin grid arrays, tantalum capacitators and connectors.’

Fraunhofer’s research achieved accuracy scores of 87.8%, 82.5%, 79.2% and 88.8% in four different classes, namely integrated circuits, tantalum capacitators, connectors and ball/pin grids. Their monetary values were very close to the expected values.

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