Recycling can never be labeled effective if it generates significant environmental impact in its process. Based on this recognition, Ricoh has been making solid progress in developing resource-recirculating production systems. The development of original dry washing technology is among the latest examples. To recycle parts stained with toner, we previously employed an ultrasonic cleaning process that required the use of water, which inevitably involved wastewater treatment and energy consumption to dry the washed parts. With the newly developed technology, which cleans to a quality as high as that of ultrasonic cleaning processes, toner stains are scraped off parts by blasting them with tiny sheets of film, rather than water, at high speed. This new technology has been in practical use since fiscal 2007, mainly in the organic photoconductor unit cartridge recycling process both in Japan and overseas, and it has led to considerably less operation time and less energy use than wastewater treatment and drying processes. In fiscal 2009, we succeeded in applying this dry washing technology for the removal of adherents on the mounting of electronic components. In the automated soldering process for the production of semiconductor circuit boards, jigs called pallets are used to protect already soldered parts from heat. In this process, in order to remove oxidized coating from the joint surface, flux is sprayed onto the spots where parts are to be soldered. As the pallets are used repeatedly, flux residue will accumulate and become fixed on the pallets over time. This needs to be periodically removed. As flux removal with the use of organic solvent requires the treatment of liquid waste and burdensome manual labor, a new technology that could reduce the associated workload, environmental impact, and operational costs had been eagerly awaited. Application of the dry washing technology to pallet cleansing has resulted in: shortening the time needed from 120 minutes to less than 5 minutes; ending the need for treatment of liquid waste; and reducing CO2 emissions by an estimated 50 to 90%.
In fiscal 2010, we displayed a sample dry washing device developed using this technology at INTERNEPCON JAPAN, an electronics manufacturing technologies trade fair, jointly with Tamura Corp., a manufacturer of electronic parts and surface mounting-related products. The device received a great response from manufacturers, many of whom were interested in introducing the technology.
How flux adheres to pallet
Pallets before/after dry washing
Pallet with flux adhering Pallet after flux washed away