Personal computers may soon have recyclable, plastic electronic circuit technology, if Australian researchers can get funding to progress their research.
Professor David Thiel of Griffith University's school of engineering and cooperative research for microtechnology, said the technology, patented as Circuits in Plastic, is more flexible than traditional circuit board designs; can be made from different plastics, including biodegradable or recycled resins; and is less toxic than traditional printed circuit boards.
``At the moment, we've been working with polycarbonate, because it is relatively inert, but you could use other types of plastic. It just needs to have a melt capability below 200° C [392° F] to seal the [circuit] tracks. You can make the circuit any shape you want, instead of making [a traditional] circuit board and inserting it in a plastic box.''
Circuits in Plastic complied with European Union laws, which went into effect July 1 for use of hazardous materials and disposal of electronic waste. ``Traditional [printed circuit boards], which use lead-based solders, do not comply with new EU standards.''
Thiel said the technology has been patented, and Griffith University now is trying to raise A$150,000 (US$118,000) to establish a prototype facility at Brisbane-based IT technology company Reid Industrial Graphic Products Pty. Ltd.
``We're keen to get this technology manufactured in Australia, but unfortunately it may have to go overseas. The technology is more cost effective than standard [printed circuit boards], but we can't demonstrate that until we can manufacture prototypes. It's a matter of getting Australian manufacturers to look at the technology and see that it could work for them.''
Griffith University will apply to the Queensland government for funding if it cannot get funding through a private organization.
``Hopefully we will have a prototype facility up and running in five months,'' Thiel said.