A recent write-up from a U.K. electronics trade group leader makes a cogent argument for why electronics engineers have a key role to play in ensuring devices are repairable and recyclable.
Craig Melson, program manager with techUK, discussed emerging repairability and recyclability expectations facing the electronics industry in an article he penned for New Electronics, a U.K. trade publication for electronics engineers.
“Whilst innovation and functionality should guide design, it’s probably fair to say that worldwide regulations have had a significant impact on how electronics are designed,” Melson wrote. “Designing a product so it can be taken apart more readily may sound counter-intuitive, but it helps to reduce costs by rationalising the number and cost of materials, shows compliance with regulations and makes it easier to extract value from broken or end of life goods.”
He listed decisions engineers can make to improve repairability of their products: ensuring components that are most likely to fail are accessible and aren’t so integrated with other components that they can’t be swapped out, avoiding glue where possible, eschewing proprietary fastenings and screws, labeling ports and panels with opening instructions and providing disassembly and repair instructions online.
To aid parts harvesting and recycling, Melson pointed to steps they could take to ease disassembly: decreasing the number of different components, materials and fastenings, as well as avoiding the use of glues.
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