The two environmentally considerate plastics of Konica Minolta' s proprietary-developed "new polymer alloy recycled PET" and plant-based "bioplastic" are employed in the bizhub 652/552 monochrome MFPs
New polymer alloy recycled PET* is a new environmentally considerate plastic developed by Konica Minolta for MFPs. It is a plastic that is worthy of realising the concept of a sustainable future society as it is a fire-resistant V2 grade plastic recycled from PET waste*1. It can also be less costly than bioplastic (polylactic acid compound) and is a recyclable material that effectively utilises PET waste, making it highly compatible for recycling-oriented societies.
*1 Uses pre-consumer materials (materials removed from wasted materials in the production process).
Bioplastic (polylactic acid compound) is a plant-based plastic that uses biomass (starches, sugar, cellulous, etc. from plants) as part of its resources. It has a lower impact on the environment, as it uses less petroleum-based resources and emits less CO2 emissions during its lifecycle than petroleum-based plastics. Although it has the same rigidity and strength as polystyrene, it lacks the resistance to heat and impacts to make it a suitable component for MFPs. To solve this issue, Konica Minolta employed a fine balance of the new polymer alloy recycled PET, as the main element, with the bioplastic by making excellent use of their properties as environmentally considerate plastics for MFPs.
Plastics made with the conventional recycled PET*2 alone had the disadvantages of fragility, low fire resistance and difficulties in injection moulding*3. Although inorganic fillers*4 such as glass fibres were used to improve fire resistance, it had a poor appearance.
*2 PET: An abbreviation for polyethylene terephthalate, is a type of polyester. Plastic bottles are made with PET.
*3 Injection moulding: A method used to process plastic and other materials that involves heating until the plastic becomes soft, and shaping into a metal mould through pressurised injection.
*4 Inorganic filler: Inorganic materials such as glass fibre, carbon fibre, and mica.
In order to overcome the disadvantages of the existing recycled PET, and improve the environmental compatibility of polymer*5, polymer alloy*5, which blends the polymer with other polymers, needed to be produced. Konica Minolta tackled this issue by developing a new processing technology that combines the hard-to-blend polymers into polymer alloy. This new processing technology combines polymer design technology with a special kneading technology to enhance the properties of the PET resulting in the development of the new polymer alloy recycled PET that is strong, fire resistant and easy to shape with injection moulding.
*5 Polymer/Polymer Alloy: Polymer is a compound made up of multiple monomers, and is generally referred to as a highly polymerised compound. Polymer alloy is a material of new properties made by a homogeneous mixture of multiple polymers.
Special kneading technology: The special kneading method, produced from the same principals of kneading dough to make a pie crust, homogeneously mixes different polymers using nanotechnology. This makes it possible to bring out only the best properties of each plastic. Generating polymer fluidity conditions that are different from conventional kneading technologies helps to minimise damage to the polymer even under high shearing force (tearing power).
Konica Minolta's advanced chemical processing technology produced the new environmentally considerate "polymer alloy recycled PET"* by uniformly mixing the highly heat resistant polymer into the PET waste, which was difficult to blend with the conventional technology, providing strength, fire resistance and easy injection moulding without the use of inorganic fillers such as glass fibres. This new material is expected to be widely used as its attractive appearance has the potential to be used for various components. Konica Minolta will continue to fully utilise our leading edge processing technology, and develop environmentally considerate plastics from various perspectives.