PWB Environmental Life Cycle Analysis 2

Phase 1 of the PWB Environmental Life Cycle Analysis project focussed on developing a calculator to estimate green house emissions associated with fabrication of printed wiring boards. Data for this phase of the project was collected from two fabrication plants, one specializing in conventional multi-layer circuit boards and the other specifically set up to manufacture high density interconnect (sequential build-up) designs. Phase 2 of the project aims to extend the calculator so that it is adaptable to other fabrication plants and can also be used for non-standard designs. In addtion the team are looking to partner with other organizations to consolidate on process data collection.

Project stage: 
Lead company: 
TTM Technologies

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Idea Information


Throughout the past decade the electronics industry has increasingly had to address the environmental impact of the products that it produces. Initially the focus was on toxicity issues and in particular eliminating the presence of hazardous materials within the products that can create health issues during service life and end of life disposal. Legislation has addressed many of these issues and attention is now turning to energy consumption of electrical designs as well as environmental considerations associated with the production cycle from raw materials through to final assembly.

More recently the concept of measuring the complete carbon/energy footprint of a product across its complete life cycle has been gaining popularity as a more balanced and accurate way of evaluating the impact that a product has on the environment. An environmental life cycle analysis assesses the impact (CO2 emissions, energy consumption, and toxic impact) of a product throughout all phases of its existence. This includes extraction and refinement of raw materials, processes and process chemicals used to produced components and sub-assemblies, final production, transportation, associated packaging, in use power consumption and disposal processes and by products. 

In phase 1 of this project the project team developed a calculator that could estimate water and energy consumption associated with fabrication of the PWBs. Additional data researched on green house gas emissions rates from different forms of energy generation and from different regions around the world, was incorporated into the calculator to enable emissions associated with different PWB designs to be determined. The calculator was set up using daily measurements from varoius manufacturing departments at two fabrication plants. One of the plants was configured to produce conventional multi-layer printed circuit boards. The other was a modern high density interconnect facility producing consumer products at very high volumes. The calculator can be downloaded at


The initial calculator, while giving an excellent insight into how different designs resulted in different levels of green house emissions, was, however, limited in usefulness as it was based on just 2 fabrication plants. Furthermore, the assumptions made and approach used to develop the calculator were assessed and uncertainty analysis conducted indicated that more data points from different fabrication plants and material providers would greatly increase confidence and credibility in the results. Additionally the calculator was set up based on the unique designs and energy/water data collection capabilities  of the production plants studied. It is therefore difficult, in its current form, to apply the calculator to other facilities.

A more flexible calculator is needed populated with additional data from a number of different manufacturing plants.

Definition Information

Goals / Benefits: 

Building on the results from phase 1 of the project, develop a more flexible PWB fabrication GHG emissions calculator with the following features:

  • Improve representativeness
  • Enhanced accuracy / Reduce Uncertainty
  • Additional capability to support advanced/emerging PWB technologies
  • Compatibility with any fabrication facility (process cycle and data gathering points)

Raise greater industry awareness of the project and engage with other organizations / companies to develop ongoing tool maintenance and upgrade strategies


High level objectives: 
  • Discuss requirements and available data inputs with potential end users.
  • Construct process flow model and modularize as appropriate
  • Develop mechanism for custom designing around individual board constructions
  • Construct calculator and populate with data
  • Run uncertainty analysis
  • Pilot with selected fabricators /designers
  • Publish to HDP user Group members

 * Calculator  to be developed using Excel application



Key Participants: 
Isola Group
TTM Technologies