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56 I-CONNECT007 I REAL TIME WITH... IPC APEX EXPO 2023 SHOW & TELL MAGAZINE 56 I-CONNECT007 I REAL TIME WITH... IPC APEX EXPO 2023 SHOW & TELL MAGAZINE Nolan Johnson touches base with Derek Lovejoy, of University of Massachusetts and GreenSource Fabrication LLC, whose paper "Solvent Free Copper Extraction," won the Best Student Research award at IPC APEX EXPO 2023. Derek's paper, which was pre- sented during Technical Conference Session S08: BF-MAT-2 Printed Board Platings and Finishes 2, on Tuesday, Jan. 24, sought to articulate a sustainable alternative to con- ventional organic systems used to remove excess copper from acidic cupric chloride etching. Derek, you just received your award for Best Technical Paper as a student. Tell us about it. What's your paper about? We investigated a secondary approach to remove excess copper from the acidic cupric chloride etching solution. Traditional approaches either use plating or hazardous and expensive organic solvents. Neither of these processes is safe, so we wanted to look at something that could replace this. How does this improve the existing process? The most common existing process uses an organic solvent. This is a very expensive and very hazardous material. At a place like GreenSource where they have zero liquid discharge, we can't use this material because it counts as a toxic discharge when it has to be replaced after five years. That effectively means that the EPA cannot certify that loca- tion. We're looking for something to replace it. This method uses ion exchange resin, which is both non-toxic and reusable and can replace this entire system. It's also smaller and more cost effective than the conven- tional organic solvent approach. Sustainability is an emerging topic for our industry. How do you see this research helping the industry going forward? At GreenSource, the organic solvent is effec- tively the only piece that we can't treat in- house. It's the last thing that has to go. Almost every PCB shop with a similar type of etching line uses this or a similar system. Therefore, this new method has the potential to elimi- nate organic systems across the board. The resin, upon disposal, is completely non-toxic. Derek Lovejoy Toward a More Sustainable Etching Process Interview by Nolan Johnson

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