Gold for PCBs and Connectors

Gold is considered a conflict mineral and it is interesting to consider how to minimize its use. Unfortunately it has become one of the most popular materials  to plate PCBs with for SMT soldering.

This article compares various options including an environmentally friendly alternative using a polymer to protect the copper prior to soldering:

Unfortunately this alternative doesn’t work for most PCB’s we are using as they have plated through holes.

Fortunately the diminishing size of PCBs in wearables and very small amount of gold employed makes this problem relatively minor.