Sustainable Pump Design: Designing for Recyclability/Remanufacturing

Today, the focus on environmentally friendly solutions is more vital than ever, manufacturing isn’t excluded. 

In manufacturing, designing for recyclability/remanufacturing involves producing parts that can easily be broken down into reusable materials at the end of their life cycle. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss why it’s essential to have a sustainable pump design and how to achieve it.

The Importance of Sustainable Pump Design 

You may be wondering, why does sustainable pump design matter? 

Pump manufacturers use large quantities of raw materials to produce their parts. If manufacturers were only to use new, unused materials, they would solely rely on natural resources. Instead, using recycled materials allows manufacturers to have a nearly unlimited supply of materials. 

Solely using new materials isn’t only unreliable, it could lead to increased costs, missed opportunities for advancement, and negatively impact your brand’s image.

Cost Increases 

Cost increases are inevitable when manufacturers solely use virgin resources. Sourcing raw materials for pumps is expensive and requires many resources.

Missed Opportunities for Advancement

If raw materials were the only option, there would be several missed opportunities for advancement. Reusing materials creates a circular economy, where these materials are used to their full potential. This can lead to innovative manufacturers using resources for products they wouldn’t have thought of before.

Impacts on Your Brand’s Image

There are countless pump manufacturers to choose from – consumers and businesses are looking for someone that stands out and is environmentally conscious. 

If your pump manufacturing doesn’t reuse materials, it could be perceived as less sustainable and eco-friendly, negatively impacting your brand image.

3 Design Considerations for Producing Recyclable Pump Components

Sustainable pump design is essential for long-term success. There are three design considerations for producing recyclable pump components to keep in mind. 

  1. Material selection 
  2. Design for disassembly
  3. Proper labeling and storage

1. Material Selection 

When designing your pump, think about how recyclable and eco-friendly the materials are.

While it is essential to evaluate each material’s properties carefully to ensure they’ll meet your

performance requirements, small adjustments can be made to either start with recycled content or enable the material to become recycled later on in its life cycle

If you select the wrong material, you may have to dispose of it and start again, leaving waste behind. For example, ferrous powdered metals are inherently sustainable, as a good portion of powder originates from iron and steel scrap. 

Design your pump so it can easily be taken apart at the end of its life, and make sure the end user knows to return this to iron and steel scrap – and you have introduced a material that can be recycled over and over again. A similar approach can be used for other metals, such as copper, or even plastics.

2. Design for Disassembly

When designing your part, design as if you were taking it apart the next day. You’ll want to use three approaches when designing:

  • Modular design approaches include creating distinct modules that are easily removable and replaceable. This will allow you to repair your pump, rather than replace it. Pump manufacturers typically sell replaceable pump components, so repairs will be a fraction of the cost compared to replacing.
  • Standardized interfaces involve designing pump components to follow industry standards and regulations. Using standardized parts will make it easier in the future if you’re looking to upgrade or replace parts.
  • Universal fastening mechanisms should easily be able to disassemble and reassemble. Using screws, bolts, and other fasteners that can be taken apart with universal tools will make taking apart and putting together pumps much easier.

3. Proper Labeling

Proper labeling is an essential part of designing for recyclability but is commonly overlooked. Materials should always be stored in the correct places, either non-recyclable or recyclable to ensure they aren’t mixed. 

It’s important to label subcomponents wherever possible to allow the end user to easily drop them into a recycling bin at the end of the component’s life. Plastic materials often follow a standardized labeling method and including such markings within tooling comes at zero additional cost to the manufacturer.

By taking these three factors into consideration, you’ll meet your pump’s performance requirements as well as sustainability goals.

Challenges & Limitations of Sustainable Pump Design

When implementing sustainable practices, there are two main concerns that go hand-in-hand – long-term costs and upfront investment. 

The first question in nearly any business decision is “What’s the cost?” When designing for recyclability, ideally, the pump design should be cost-effective. However, depending on the materials needed or advanced technologies, such as new equipment, the upfront investment may be costly. Fortunately, most sustainable manufacturing methods increase your long-term savings.

 

The Future of Manufacturing – A Focus on Sustainability 

Without sustainable pump design, manufacturers won’t see long-term success. The increased demand for eco-friendly products as well as the availability of natural resources ensures that sustainable pump design is necessary.

Start Designing for Recyclability

Incorporating sustainable methods into your production can be a difficult task. Reach out to one of our experts at Nichols Portland to start designing for recyclability.