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Sensitivity Analysis of the Environmental Impact of Polymer Injection Molding Process
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1  i+-aiTIIP, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Zaragoza

Published: 31 October 2014 by MDPI in The 4th World Sustainability Forum session Sustainable Engineering and Science
Abstract: During the last decades the environmental concern of society has experienced an increase. Specific tools like the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and software and databases to apply this method have been developed to calculate the environmental burden of products or processes very diverse. Global plastics production rose to 288 million tonnes in 2012. Among the different ways of plastics processing the injection molding process is one of the most used in the industry worldwide. In this paper an analysis of the influence of the polymer in the environmental impact of the injection molding process has been carried out. In order to perform this study, the EcoInvent database inventory considered and the data from which this database is obtained for this process have been studied. In general, when a LCA of a product is carried out, databases such EcoInvent, where materials, processes and transports are characterized providing average values, are used. This approach can be good enough for some cases but in order to assess a specific process, like the injection molding process, a further level of detail is needed. This study shows how the final results of environmental impact differ significantly when modifying the generic dataset's values, using the PVC's, PP's or PET's original report data or more updated values. This aspect suggest the necessity of studying, in a more precise way, this process to evaluate its environmental burden correctly so the priority areas can be properly identified and thereby actions to develop a more sustainable way of manufacturing can be determined.
Keywords: Environmental impact; injection molding process; LCA
Comments on this paper
Sergio Benito
Good article
The study of polymer's life cycle is a very important issue due to the great impact in the industrial economy and the environment.

This article helps people to understand the importance of polymer fabrication process optimizing, looking for a better yield and reduce the environmental impact.
Angel Fernandez
I agree. Further, it´s very important to understand injection moulding depends a lot on the different materials, moulds and parts used.

Jose Manuel Escuín Finol
An important research line
This paper will help us to take into account environmental consequences of one of the most used manufacturing process in the transformation industry: injection moulding (and PP as the most used material). In addition, the paper shows that there are different elements behind the manufacturing process that are unknown for most of us and imply diverse environmental impacts that have been quantified in this analysis.

Angel Fernandez
I fully agree with you. Continuous monitoring of IM processing is absolutely necessary to understand its environmental impact

Javier Palacio
Interesting and significant results
This paper shows an important aspect often overlooked in LCA; the uncertainty and sensitivity analysis due to expected or unexpected variations in the dataset. This should be taken into consideration not only by the private industries in their estimations but also by the legislators.
Thanks for such a nice piece of work.
Angel Fernandez
Sure, sensitivity analysis is a precise tool to understand the relationship between the daily practice at a Factory and its influence on the environment

Ana Elduque
Thank you all for your comments.

We will continue working on this research field in order to obtain a more sustainable production process.
Angel Fernandez
Hi Mrs. Elduque, nice work!. I hope these comments enchourage you and your colleagues going on his intereseting and useful research

Julio Blanco
Good article
Very interesting article.  The Paper is an important step in optimizing of polymers manufacturing process.
Angel Fernandez
I agree. I hope converting industry increase the investment in process optimisation

Angel Fernandez
Interesting and useful research
The study in Deep of material processing technolgies from the point of view of the environmental impact is useful not only for worldwide implemented processes like injection moulding but newer processing technologies growing in the industry.

The results shown in this article helps to cover the lack of information and knwoldedge about injection moulding processing and the relationships with specific thermoplastic raw materials

Susana Martinez
High impact research
As manager of an institution focussed to the research,development and innovation in the field of the agrofood industry I´m concerned the environmental impact of the use of plastic materials for agriculture, packaging and raw materials production is critical for the sustainability.
In this case it is very interesting to research in Deep the influence of the processing technologies to fit more accurately the requirements of the EU regarding envoronmental matters in particular and the sustainability of the agrofood industry in general.

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