The Eco Calculator is constantly evolving to meet industry needs and this latest development follows the recent addition of data for core materials for RTM and vacuum infusion processes. Further additions will be announced next year.
The new data for glass fibre thermoplastics materials encompasses both the compounding into granulate and the moulding of the part. For example, a user can take a polypropylene with 30% glass fibre and filler and calculate the environmental impact of producing that compound, and then, in a second step, calculate the environmental impact of using that material in an injection moulding process. The conversion data is suitable for processing of polypropylene, polyester and polyamide with a wide range of glass fibre contents.
Customers in all industry sectors are increasingly asking for detailed information on the environmental impact of a product or component. While sustainability is a key driver for the selection of composite materials, the life cycle assessments (LCAs) frequently used to evaluate the environmental impact of a product are complex, time consuming and expensive, often requiring specialised software and/or consultants. The results are also dependent on the LCA system employed and the data used, which can often be out of date. For small composites companies this approach is not affordable, especially if they produce a diverse range of products in low volumes. To address this issue, EuCIA designed the Eco Calculator, a low cost, fast and easy to use tool which enables composites manufacturers to clearly communicate the environmental impact of their products to their customers.
The Eco Calculator calculates the environmental impact of products from cradle to gate, including the raw materials, transport, processing and waste generation up to the point of sale. The calculation of consecutive manufacturing processes is possible as output can be used as input. Users do not need any in-depth knowledge of LCA techniques in order to use the tool and the data can be exported in the form of an Eco Report, which can be used to support the business case for the selection of a composite product. The calculated data can be used as input for further life cycle calculations.
The Eco Calculator incorporates a pre-defined set of materials and processes, based on data EuCIA has collected over the past three years. Users are also able to enter their own data to generate a more precise result for their individual products and processes. The materials and processes included in the tool are under continuous review for quality and consistency, and new data is regularly added to extend and improve its scope and accuracy.