Making the right choice
In the past, sustainable designs have been challenging, primarily during the end-of-life phase of the device. Over the last few years, new technologies and suppliers have started to specialise in production techniques that reduce the effect on the environment. When Conficio has a client that has these ambitions, we draw on our experience and engage with our trusted partners.
Externally, the materials that are used to manufacture the housing of a project may have to be water resistant and have a long life expectancy, these can be at odds with ecological requirements. In these instances, materials can be sourced from recycled materials and the appropriate design rule modifications are made to ensure that the product can be moulded or printed. In terms of items that have a relatively short lifespan, such as packaging, our team can make use of biodegradable plastics to minimise the environmental impact.
Within a product, there are improvements that can be made to the electronics to reduce the complexity of recycling the materials. Biodegradable PCBs are becoming more readily available. However, they still incur an elevated cost and limitations on the components that can be fitted during the reflow process. We often find clients discussing whether a design should be mains powered (usually with an AC/DC wall plug) to reduce the amount of WEEE per unit or battery powered to allow portability.
Longevity of a product is a huge driving force behind improving the environmental credentials of a company. Where a product is battery powered, reducing the number of charge cycles has a huge effect on this. The software that runs within a device can make the difference between a once-a-day charge and once-a-week charge. Therefore, offering an improvement on the usable lifetime of the battery.
The design challenges that present themselves during an environmentally friendly development cycle often increase the initial cost of development as well as the unit cost of the final product. When working with established businesses, this cost is taken into consideration and is often a driving point for the development. Start-ups and innovative new companies that have grand aspirations can find the increased costs difficult to justify until a revenue stream has been created.
Since sustainable designs are being requested more frequently, Conficio have identified and been in communication with companies that can offer prototype and manufacturing services that decrease the amount of a product that cannot be recycled or disposed of ethically. Working together our team of Industrial Design, Electronics and Firmware engineers can reduce the environmental impact of your design.
Conficio Product Design is a design consultancy based in Wilton, Wiltshire. Our team of engineers are dedicated to supporting both established corporations and small tech start-ups to develop exciting and bespoke products. Conficio will undertake the detailed components to your design whilst ensuring that your original idea is adhered to, we work with you to realise your goals. We require our clients to be invested in their design to ensure that we can Make Together.
// Meaning: From con- (“with, together”) + faciō (“do, make”).
// Verb: To make together, prepare, construct, produce, do thouroughly, complete, accomplish, finish, execute.
// Pronunciation: Con - fee - see - o