October 14, 2009---Ricoh Co., Ltd. (President and CEO: Shiro Kondo) has developed a technology that removes adhered residue (solder flux) without using solvents or water. This technology is based on the principle of using airflow to blast thin films—each a few millimeters square—onto the object to be cleaned and removing the residue from the object (*1 dry washing technology). Compared with the existing method, this technology reduces the environmental impact by up to about one tenth (*2). It also enables significant reductions in cleaning costs.
This new technology is based on Ricoh’s proprietary dry washing technology that was introduced in 2006 to help remove toner from parts during the recycling of products. Further developments have made it possible to remove adhered residue.
Ricoh has found practical application for this new technology with the cleaning equipment for the pallets used repeatedly during the automatic soldering of printed circuit boards. Pallets are generally cleaned with solvents or cleaning solutions, placing a burden on the environment and incurring disposal costs for the waste liquid. The introduction of this new technology enables the cleaning of pallets without solvents or water. The cleaning time (process lead time), which had previously taken more than two hours, has been reduced to less than five minutes in plants in Japan where Ricoh is conducting trials.
The new equipment has been introduced at Shanghai Ricoh Office Equipment Co., Ltd. in China, a production site for printed circuit boards, and should be operational by the end of this month. By introducing this equipment, we expect to reduce the amount of waste liquid by 1600kg a month. Eventually, we plan to introduce this cleaning equipment at other Ricoh Group domestic and overseas production sites.
The Ricoh Group is working to reduce its environmental footprint at every stage of its business, from procurement to production and distribution, as well as at customer sites, through recycling and disposal. The Company will continue to take on new challenges with technological innovations in its efforts to realize a sustainable society.
|[(*1) Principle of Dry Washing Technology]|
|[(*2) Estimate of Environmental Impact Reduction]|
|Conventional process||New process|
|Process time||More than 2 hours||3 to 5 min.|
|Environmental impact (waste liquid)||0.1 to 0.8L / pallet||0 (*1)|
|Environmental impact (CO2 emissions)||0.2 to 2kg / pallet (*2)||0.1 to 0.2kg / pallet (*3)|
|(*1)||The removed residue (flux powder) is collected by a dust collector.|
|(*2)||Solvent production and incineration|
|(*3)||Consumables, electrical power, washing equipment production, etc.
The range of values is attributed to the different cleaning methods, production scales and pallet sizes of the production sites.