Posted on Dec 22, 2011 in Tech & internet
Every electronic thingy I ever have seen inside of has the same green circuit boards. Does it mean something in particular? Why did they pick green?
Printed circuit boards, or PCBs are found in practically everything that you interact with daily that uses electricity. Everything from computers and cell phones to cars and trucks, your household appliances and remote controls, they all have PCBs in them somewhere. The vast majority of them are green — though some are red, blue, yellow, black, white, or brown — but why, for the most part, green?
A PCB is made of many layers of different materials. Without going into excruciating detail, circuit boards are essentially comprised of four different bits:
It’s the solder mask that gives the board its disctinctive (typically) green color. It is also the layer that the silkscreened notations are printed on, so you know where everything is supposed to go.
After searching high and low for this one, there didn’t seem to be one conclusive answer as to why green is the preferred color. One story has it, according to this PCB manufacturer, that the original masks used a base resin that was a brownish yellow color and a brown hardener that created a sort of ugly honey brown looking board. Adding red made it a “rusty adobe” color and adding blue just made it a darker brown — however adding more yellow to the mix ended up making a more aesthetically pleasing green color.
Personally, having seen boards of every color — including the not so pleasant brown mentioned above — I think there’s probably something to that story. Most likely today it’s a matter of tradition and cost — PCBs have been perceived as green for so long, it’s hard to move away from that, and as a result of it being the most popular color the green solder mask is most likely the least expensive color to apply.
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