Injection molding company Plastikos Medical (Erie, Pa.) announced today that less than a year since its opening, the company has attained its goal of reusing or recycling 100% of the waste material produced in its injection-molding process.
The company’s owners said they designed the plant with environmental stewardship in mind, including a plan to highly automate the means to segregate, reprocess and store any ground-up plastic waste (regrind) that it generates to minimize material handling and direct labor.
Plastikos works with customers to use full hot runner systems when it can, according to general manager Ryan Katen. (A hot runner system is an assembly of heated components that inject molten plastic into the cavities of the mold.) When a product’s design and corresponding part geometry do not allow for that type of system, Plastikos staff will build a small cold-runner or a hybrid hot-to-cold runner system..
“Our first goal is always to reduce raw material consumption,” Katen said in a news release. “Even with a hybrid system, the waste from small, partial cold runners can really add up when the volume is extremely high, as we see in many single-use medical devices. Nearly 99% of the reusable regrind material that we produce at Plastikos Medical is generated via a hot-to-cold runner system.”
Since opening in September 2019, Plastikos Medical has doubled its press capacity. Of the 160,000 lb of raw material it consumed in 2020, approximately 100,000 lb was used to produce the finished, molded medical parts and the remaining 60,000 lb was reused or recycled, the company noted.
“We have several key recycling business partners that will either purchase or take our high-quality regrind material, which in turn can then be used for other non-medical applications where regrind usage is permitted,” Katen said.
By the end of 2022, company officials expect to further reduce material consumption by more than 100,000 lb through multiple re-tool and mold retrofit engineering efforts.
“We are actively working with several key medical device OEM accounts to retrofit several of their high-volume production tools to further eliminate the current hot-to-cold runner system,” added Danielle Bentley, Plastikos’ molding manager. “Hot runner technologies continue to improve and advance, including with new side-gated systems that were not available a few years ago. And in these cases, there is usually a sizable cost-savings to the client, so that our team can help to justify the ROI for these new and/or mold retrofit opportunities.”