Casio Manufacturing Corp. and its injection molded part suppliers recently began using recycled polystyrene in some electronic musical keyboards.
The effort cost about $50,000 in tooling and process changes, but it also required a significant amount of machine time to test the products.
The company began using recycled PS on its production lines Nov. 15, in conjunction with America Recycles Day. Casio buys the raw material from National Polystyrene Recycling Co.'s plant in Corona, Calif.
``We decided to use recycled PS for the conservation of the environment,'' Casio purchasing manager Peter Mohrhardt said in a telephone interview. ``Casio has worked with NPRC to develop this for about a year.''
Casio expects to use 5 million pounds of PS next year, including 2 million pounds of recycled PS. NPRC supplies Casio with post-industrial and post-consumer PS pellets and adds color concentrates for matching.
``We've been working on expanded PS for a while to replace other materials,'' and falling PS prices have helped Casio make the switch, he said.
The keyboards are injection molded at Tijuana, Mexico, molding plants owned by AB Plastics Inc. of Gardena, Calif.; Munekata America Inc. of Dalton, Ga.; and Mulay Plastics Inc. of Addison, Ill. The molders had to adjust the temperature and mold-fill rate to account for the recycled raw material.
Casio invested less than $50,000 in tooling and process changes. However, Mohrhardt measured the investment in terms of time. On several different occasions, molders had to give up machine time to test the products. While the machines were used for Casio's products, the injection molding firms were compensated about $100 per hour.
``Casio wanted to take leadership in the environment even though other electronic companies are much larger than ours,'' Mohrhardt said. ``Ultimately, our products had been landfilled. We have had the support of the top management at our parent company, Casio Computer Co. Ltd. in Tokyo.''
Casio Manufacturing, based in San Diego, produces 14 different models of keyboards. Three or four of them are made from recycled PS. Casio also is testing different colors for the keyboards made from recycled PS.
The firm makes about 800,000 keyboards per year. The company's long-term goal is to use recycled plastic for all of its keyboards.