World’s first microfactory that can revamp the components from electronic waste (e-waste) items into valuable materials for reuse has been launched at University of South Wales (UNSW), Sydney. The microfactory has the ability to reduce the rapidly burgeoning problem of vast amounts of electronic waste causing environmental harm and going into landfill.
The e-waste microfactory reforms discarded computers, mobile phones and printers and has several small modules for this process and fits into a small site. The discarded devices are first placed into a module to break them down. The next module involve a special robot for the identification of useful parts. Another module then involves using a small furnace which transforms these parts into valuable materials by using a precisely controlled temperature process developed via extensive research.
These transformed materials include metal alloys and a range of micromaterials. The micromaterials can be used in industrial-grade ceramics while the specific quality plastics from computers, printers and other discarded sources can be put through another module that produces filaments suitable for 3D-printing applications, while the metal alloys can be used as metal components for new or existing manufacturing processes.