Why are Circuit Boards Green? | Summary and Q&A

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March 4, 2022
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Why are Circuit Boards Green?

TL;DR

Early computer monitors and military requirements led to the iconic green color of circuit boards, which is also optimized for human eyes and inspection systems.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Why are circuit boards traditionally colored green?

Early computer monitors were monochrome displays that emitted a bright green light, leading to the association of green with digital technology. Additionally, the military's requirement for maximum legibility under various lighting conditions contributed to the adoption of green as the standard color for circuit boards.

Q: Are circuit boards actually green all the way through?

No, circuit boards are typically made from a material called phenolic paper that ranges in color from pale tan green to dark butterscotch brown. The green color comes from a protective layer called a solder mask that is applied to the circuit board's surface.

Q: Why do circuit boards still use green solder masks?

Green solder masks offer better contrast and allow for the production of smaller solder dams, preventing unwanted solder bridges and short circuits. The industry also has little incentive to switch to other colors due to the efficient manufacturing processes and widespread acceptance of green.

Q: Can circuit boards be printed in other colors?

Yes, circuit boards can be printed in various colors, such as red, yellow, white, black, and purple. However, each color comes with its own challenges and considerations, such as potential current leakage or difficulty in achieving small solder dams.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Circuit boards are traditionally colored green because early computer monitors were monochrome displays that emitted a bright green light.

  • The green color of printed circuit boards is achieved through a combination of chemistry, human eyesight, military requirements, and industry inertia.

  • Green solder masks on circuit boards offer better contrast and performance, and switching to other colors would require significant production delays and logistical challenges.

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