How To Cut Back On Scrap

Online Editor

Focusing on waste reduction is helping one UK company emphasise its sustainability credentials. Gabby Day has the story

It is good practice to be firmly focused on sustainability within the plastic injection moulding manufacturing process. There are several areas to be considered when looking at new products, such as cutting down on waste through the introduction of direct hot tip feed systems or recycling waste back into production at controlled levels.

At Pentagon, the design for manufacture (DFM) stage is where we will actively consider the suitability of recycled materials or biopolymers for production, as opposed to specified virgin materials. However, given the nature of some of the bespoke technical mouldings that are produced, the risk of contamination can sometimes be too high for consideration. However, advancing technologies mean there is now a far wider range of environmentally friendly thermoplastic options available.

In the main, we find customers will approach us with a specified grade of thermoplastic suitable for their product, which has been researched and sourced by their design team from both environmental and sustainability considerations. We will still highlight alternatives should we believe that there would be a comparable and suitable suggestion for the products that meet the needs of its end use.

The regular-use recycled polymers that the mould shop processes are recycled polypropylene, ABS and polycarbonate, which currently have a combined annual usage of around 6.5 tonnes per annum. We also look at other elements, such as coring out a product to reduce the volume of plastic used for manufacture, while ensuring the product will remain fit for purpose.

Pentagon adopts a conscientious approach to mould tool design with a keen focus on negating the need for waste plastics in processing. Optimal cavitation, utilisation of hot runner systems, minimising waste, improving yields and optimising the process are all considerations.

Through a measured and documented trialling process, Pentagon moulding technicians ensure that all trial settings and their effects are recorded so as not to repeat processing errors and create excess waste at the development phase. Once optimum processing settings are achieved, all documentation is held against product records for reference. Should any processing issues manifest in future production runs, we ensure they are documented, and process improvements are implemented.

When a customer’s product reaches the final production stages, Pentagon’s technicians deliver process optimisation to eliminate the production of waste. This is supported by an expansive quality control processes, most notably the regular patrol inspections which ensure that any substandard product is removed at the earliest opportunity, and any processing issues are rectified to minimise the production of waste product.

Having several experienced quality inspectors allows the company to operate a concise waste mitigation programme through quality control, continual monitoring and working to reduce scrappage throughout the injection moulding process.

Scrap rates are monitored and recorded, where viable waste product is reground on site and used for the manufacture of other products. All other waste is disposed of appropriately according to specific regulations.

As manufacturers and suppliers to the transport sector, we should all recognise our environmental responsibility – and that consideration needs to flow through all areas of the business to ensure that we are maximising our sustainability efforts.

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