Re-use of injection moulding waste for Additive Manufacturing Rheon (Re- Rheon 3D)

Lead Participant: RHEON LABS LTD


Re-Rheon 3D aims to address the reuse and upcycling of polymer waste generated during injection moulding, while creating the world's first strain-rate sensitive material for 3d printing. This is a collaborative initiative between Rheon Labs Ltd and the Additive Manufacturing Centre of Excellence and will focus on the development of a circular process for 3d printable Rheon. At the core of RHEON(tm) technology is a reactive polymer that intelligently strengthens when subjected to force. The technology can control energy of any amplitude or frequency - from small vibrations to life-threatening single impacts. Thus, the main use of Rheon parts is in helmets and other life-saving applications. Our parts are manufactured using traditional injection moulding, and thus create polymer waste in the process. While injection moulding is the method of choice for mass manufacturing simple geometries, we currently cannot reuse injection moulding waste and sprues in our production facilities in the UK. Thus, we cannot manufacture some of the customers complex and lightweight geometries. Currently about 5% of our material ends up as waste in the injection moulding process, due to sprues used for production parts, or parts that don't comply with the specs. This accounts for 2500 Kg and about £30,000 per year, and is predicted to grow to 6250 Kg and £75,000 in 2022\. Thus, it is crucial to develop a process to re-incorporate this material waste into useful end-user parts, creating an environmental and economic benefit. In addition, we currently face customer requirements around lightweight parts with complex geometries, especially in the helmet industry, which we cannot meet using injection moulding. This project aims to address on the one hand the reuse of Rheon waste created in our manufacturing facilities, and on the other hand enable us to meet customer requirements for bespoke lightweight structures and advanced geometries.

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