An innovative UK company is changing the way manufacturers produce conventional electronics, through state-of-the-art sustainable production techniques that address the way electronics are currently recycled.
In doing so, they are delivering on agreed waste recycling protocols and looking to work with government to further embed these protocols in the electronics manufacturing processes.
In2tec in Kettering is a prominent manufacturer of flexi and flexi-hibrid™ printed circuit board assemblies (PCBAs) which have transformed the way manufacturers package their products, allowing for more three-dimensional design platforms that wouldn’t be possible with conventional PCBA materials.
In2tec has innovated throughout its 25 years in electronics, pushing boundaries in process and placement capabilities within additive manufacturing. Their latest innovation has been consistently developed across 15 years and has now reached the stage where it can be presented to the public and implemented for mass-volume production by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
In2tec has found a solution to a problem the electronics industry has struggled with since its inception but has only recently come to the forefront of the public consciousness – electronics recycling.
Currently when electronics are recycled through the Waste Electronics and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) protocol, the PCBAs are removed, shredded, and ultimately sent to landfill with no prospect of ever breaking down. ‘Bury it or Burn it’ has been the only option to date, causing untold risk to human and wildlife health and damage to the environment.
In2tec’s solution is a simple one, an unzippable PCBA that allows the electronic components to be removed and reused in other technologies.
This high-tech solution uses the same manufacturing principles that have underpinned In2tec’s Smart HMI technologies for over 25 years. In using proprietary electronics design and manufacturing techniques along with patented conductive adhesives, inter-layer adhesives, printed inks and dielectrics, In2tec delivers PCBAs with 100% recyclability, allowing for the components to re-enter the supply chain.
In2tec has developed this patented technology under the names ReUSE®: the manufacturing of unzippable electronics assemblies and ReCYCLE™: the ultra-low energy disassembly process. A number of large OEMs expressed an interest and are now engaged with In2tec to better understand the technology and benefits. Their drive to utilise this technology comes from significant pressure from their customers to introduce sustainable manufacturing techniques for the betterment of the planet, and the opportunity to regain valuable components back at zero cost.
“We wanted to introduce circularity to the electronics industry,” said Neil Armstrong, Managing Director of In2tec. “Currently, electronics are sent to landfill after an average of just five years use, yet the components in this technology can have a lifetime usage of over 25 years. Our ReUSE® technology allows these components to be utilised to their full lifespan, while also reducing the effects of the ongoing chip shortage, preventing excessive CO2 output and providing circularity for the electronics industry!”
Using ReUSE® on 2.5% of the world’s PCBA production per annum would save over 2.4bn tonnes of CO2! It would also save over 25 kilo tonnes of waste electronics going into landfill. The In2tec ReCYCLE™ process allows electronics recyclers to properly recover electronic components and feed the new market for second life components (one that manufacturers are already taking part in) and which can fund the whole recycling process in the long run.
Emma Armstrong, Sustainable Electronics Ambassador at In2tec, said:
“Circularity in electronics is one front we can win. We can’t continue to mine precious resources to manufacture circuit board assemblies and we don’t have to. The ReUSE® and ReCYCLE™ programme changes the costing mechanism by making recycling a value chain not a cost chain to manufacturers and recyclers, bringing circularity to the lifecycle of electronics rather than being a straight line from supplier to landfill.”
The UK can and should lead this paradigm shift in technology and deliver this circularity in electronics. The UK’s long manufacturing history and experience in the electronics space make it the ideal location to change the world of electronics, and in doing so, change the planet for the better.
Find out more at www.in2tec.com