Printed circuit boards (PCBs) that perform important functions in electronic devices, including displays and sensors, require a lot of energy to create. Moreover, traditional PCB manufacturing processes generate large amounts of liquid waste and high carbon emissions.
Still, there are ways to produce more environmentally friendly PCBs, with more manufacturing processes including inkjet and laser printing, and fully biodegradable PCBs are also on the horizon.
To get a slice of the $90 billion PCB manufacturing pie, Tokyo-based Elephantec has developed an eco-friendly PCB called P-Flex, which it claims can reduce carbon emissions by 77 percent and water consumption by 77 percent. 95% compared to conventional procedures.
The main change is that Elephantec has introduced the PCB process for electronic circuits in what is traditionally called “reduced” manufacturing, which involves plating the entire surface with metal before melting away the non-essential areas.Elephantech’s “clean addition” puts metals only where they are needed to start the process. Nothing is disposed of later (ie wasted).
The company says its nanoparticle inkjet technology can help reduce costs by 32 percent.
Elephantech has secured ¥2.15 billion (~$15 million) in funding at a valuation of $12.3 billion ($88 million) to achieve its mission “to create a sustainable world through resource- and energy-efficient manufacturing technologies,” according to a company spokesperson. TechCrunch.
In the year The new capital, which has brought the total raised since its launch in 2014 to 7 billion dollars ($50 million), will help the start-up focus on R&D and, with its current production volume, target customers in the domestic market. Globally.
Elephantech began mass production of its PCBs two years ago at its Nagoya facility, and currently focuses on single-sided flexible substrates and plans to produce multi-layer and rigid PCBs, including a copper layer. substrate layer and silk screen layer.
The inkjet printing technology can also be used in other sectors such as healthcare, optics and textiles, the company said.
In August, startup Nika Chemical announced a dye-removal technology called NeoChromato, which it co-developed with a Japanese textile chemical company. The Neochromato process removes prints from polyester fabrics without the use of water and places a new print on the fabric to reduce garment waste before being reused in a different design.
The outfit says the process reduces carbon emissions by 48% compared to chemical recycling.
Several startups are working to solve and optimize various aspects of the PCB design process, including a company called Cellus, which recently raised $25.6 million for a platform that automates circuit board design. Then there’s Luminovo, which earned $11 million to reduce waste in PCB manufacturing by consolidating the entire process of materials and production costs.
So it’s clear that there’s a growing drive to optimize and improve the technology that powers every electronic contraption, from smartphones to microwave ovens. Coupled with growing environmental concerns and the role electronics play in that, Elephantech is perhaps poised for greater acceptance in global markets, and the latest cash injection will go some way to helping it.
Elephantech’s funding round includes investments from Henry V Investments, Shin-Etsu Chemical, Nose, Shizuoka Capital, Iwa Corporation, Nanobank, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical, Kenbishi Sake Brewery, D&I Investments, Epson, Sumimoto, East Ventures and Next Ventures.