Value chain, not cost chain

In2tec explains how its sustainable production techniques are changing the way manufacturers produce conventional electronics 

As a manufacturer of flexi and flexi-hibrid printed circuit board assemblies, In2tec is transforming the way manufacturers package their products, allowing for three-dimensional design platforms impossible with conventional PCBA materials. The company’s latest innovation addresses a problem the electronics industry has struggled with since its inception: recycling.

Currently when electronic products 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. To date, ‘bury or burn it’ has been the only option, causing untold risk to human/wildlife health and environmental damage.

In2tec’s answer is an unzippable PCBA that allows electronic components to be removed and reused in other technologies. The 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, plus patented conductive adhesives, inter-layer adhesives, printed inks and dielectrics, In2tec delivers 100 per cent recyclable PCBAs, allowing components to re-enter the supply chain.

This patented technology is called ReUSE (manufacturing of unzippable electronics assemblies) and ReCYCLE (ultra-low energy disassembly process). A number of large OEMs expressed interest and are engaged with In2tec to better understand the technology and benefits. Their drive comes from customer pressure to introduce sustainable manufacturing techniques for the betterment of the planet, plus the opportunity to regain valuable components at zero cost.

In2tec’s managing director, Neil Armstrong, said: “We wanted to introduce circularity to the electronics industry. 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 2.5per cent of the world’s PCBA production per annum would save over 2.4 billion 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, which can fund the whole recycling process long term.

In2tec’s sustainable electronics ambassador, Emma Armstrong, added: “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.”