Here at In2tec, our 25+ years of experience and investment in innovation have allowed us to develop capabilities that enable us to consistently deliver the cost-effective design and manufacture of sustainable flexible electronics. We help to reduce viable components and materials entering the e-waste mountain by providing flexible electronics solutions that offer a greater level of recyclability.
The case for sustainable flexible electronics is strong. In 2016, the estimated value of potentially recoverable materials in global e-waste was $64.6 billion, but only 20% was recycled. The rest was dumped in landfills where toxic chemicals leach from the e-waste and contaminate the ground and water supply. Now, the global PCB market is estimated to reach $89.7 Billion by 2024, with a CAGR of 4.3% from 2019 to 2024. We have a duty to ourselves and future generations to shift paradigms and reduce the devastating impacts this has.
With our drive for sustainable electronics, we are pushing for fundamental changes to achieve a circular vision and life extension for electronics, building on the needs as expressed at the World Economic Forum in 2019. We do this by leading the way with investment and our continuous innovation in flexible electronics solutions.
Flexible electronics, compared to traditional ‘hard’ electronics, offer inherently different properties in design, form, and materials from which they are manufactured. This in turn presents opportunities to allow circuit boards to be unzipped at their end of life and provide a more sustainable and environmentally friendly solution.
Our Flexible Printed Circuits (FPCs), in terms of materials, are made from Polyesters, such as Polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a highly recyclable plastic resin and a form of polyester. PET also is inexpensive, lightweight, resealable, shatter-resistant, and recyclable.
Recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) is the most widely recycled plastic in the world. Much focus is on post-consumer plastic waste and recycling, but there is the capacity for post-production scrap plastics including PET to be captured, and as the industry is becoming more reliant on the supply of rPET from both post-production and post-consumer sources, there is an increasing drive to develop and implement circular solutions for both PET and precious metal recycling.
In contrast to FPCs, traditional PCBs are designed and produced using copper and FR4, a glass-reinforced epoxy resin laminate. While the copper could have enough purity to be used again as a conductive material, the amount of precious metal per PCB is usually very small. With the gold material on the tracks being very thin immersion plated gold, and typically 0.1 microns thick, it would take several hundreds of kilograms of scrap PCB’s to make recycling economical. Unfortunately, this alongside the low value of the bare PCB’s per kilo means that the boards simply end up in landfill, despite the resulting contamination and risks to human health and the environment!
Part of the benefit of flexible electronics comes through the primary use of silver or gold inks. And so, at the end of their life they become much more attractive to recycle due to their inherent material value.
In addition to the sustainability benefits of FPCs, because of their supple form they can be curved, or even contoured to form 3D shapes. They are not only light and space-saving, but FPCs provide new and superior design possibilities and solutions, offering significant opportunities for any product.
Given their flexible properties, compared to those of traditional electronics with a rigid form, ergonomic lightweight designs, such as for compact or ultra-thin wearable on-skin medical devices have already become a reality. Automotive, Aerospace, Medical and Wearable markets all have end-applications that have, and will, significantly benefit from the implementation of FPCs. With these markets set to grow in the coming years the evolution of FPCs is assured.
At In2tec the sustainability of electronics is inherent in everything we do, in the way we think, design, manufacture and operate. It is built into the DNA of the Company. We look at development and new projects with a focus and passion for sustainability in the electronics engineering solutions and products we provide. With over 25 years’ experience in flexible electronic solutions and innovations, we are a leading authority in the design and manufacture of FPCs, supporting long-standing customers in every core industry.
Integrating In2tec’s capability to increase recyclability and create superior elegant designs for your products could not be easier. Discover what we can do for you by getting in touch today.
T +44 (0)1536 419200 (office hours GMT: 8.30am-5.00pm Mon-Thurs; 8.30am-2.30pm Fri) For more information about In2tec technologies and capabilities, please visit http://www.in2tec.com/about-us