Waterloo Business Management

Extrusion and Characterisation of HDPE and HI-PS from Recycled Printer Cartridges

WBM provide a used printer consumables destruction and recycling service to original equipment manufacturers. As a business, they commit to ensuring used products are permanently removed from the market and that the products do not go to landfill. A fully transparent and traceable process that ensures all empty cartridges and consumables are processed and returned to their raw material state.

Waterloo Business Management contacted the Hub, keen to access local University expertise in the field of science, engineering, and research. Having seen the recent investment in facilities on the Manchester University campus, the SMI Hub offered a perfect solution for the testing and research they needed. The SMI Hub values centralising on sustainability, with a particular focus on plastic, perfectly aligned with WBM’s objectives for this project.

Waterloo Business Management wanted to increase the value of the materials recovered in their processes to raise a business case to expand their processing throughput and grow the business by reprocessing it further. The project focussed on the two main types of plastic that are recovered by WBM: high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and high-impact polystyrene (HI-PS) in the highest quantities and have potential use as a recycled material.

The SMI Hub performed a series of experiments to assess the general thermo-mechanical properties of HDPE and HI-PS granulate produced from used printer cartridges. Priority was given to experiments that were especially relevant for evaluating the performance of these materials as it undergoes heating and extrusion. Experiments included extrusion testing with different quantities of print toner additives, mechanical properties, viscosity, melting temperature, degradation and temperature.

Good communication and willing to visit our site to learn the background of the project. They quickly developed a thorough understanding of our business and demonstrated flexibility to tailor the research to our business objectives.

James O’Connor, Waterloo Business Management

Next steps

WBM have started the process of applying for additional support through the ERDF-funded project offered by Print City and MMU in Great Manchester. This is a two-phase programme that takes businesses on a journey to learn about additive manufacturing, from current best practice to design ideas. This will enable WBM to explore further new uses and new products that may be able to be derived from recycled material.

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