You are on page 1of 2

LCA is initiated to determine the attributes of the forceps manufactured using two

materials, stainless steel and PEEK. The LCA procedure includes a number of widely
used and accepted methods for environmental impact assessment. In this case
study, a standard commercial solid modelling-based computer-aided design tool is
used to quantitatively assess the environmental impact of the product throughout
its entire life cycle, from the procurement of the raw materials through the
production, distribution, use, disposal and recycling of that product (Solidworks
2013). The accessed technology measures sustainability impacts using LCA. This
uses access to the GaBi database (gabisoftware.com 2014) that was developed by
PE International in collaboration with the department of Life Cycle Engineering at
the University of Stuttgart (lbp-gabi.de 2014). It is a widely used solution based on
the CML impact assessment methodology developed by the Institute of
Environmental Sciences at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands (leidenuniv.nl
2014). The solution provided has been critically reviewed to appraise it for
consistency and quality following a predened assessment procedure (Schulz and
Mersiowsky 2013). The deployed system is also appropriate for rapid design
iteration, making it a good t to the research reported in this paper.
Table 1 illustrates the analysis of environmental impact of the life cycle stages for
four forceps; two made from stainless steel and two using PEEK. The analysis
reflects data of four main contributing factors to the environmental impact namely
carbon footprint, water eutrophication, air acidication and total energy consumed.
These factors are quantied based upon the functional unit of a single product. The
boundaries of this LCA model are identied as; material, MP, manufacturing region,
use region, transportation and EoL.
A products life cycle begins with the removal of raw materials and energy sources
from the Earth. In the case of stainless steel, the two main types of production are
from ore-based primary raw material or from recycled material. Dif-ferent
combinations of these are widely used and it has been shown that there will be a
3233% reduction of carbon footprint and energy consumed when producing steel
from recycled material (Johnson et al. 2007). Consideration of the percentage of
recycled material used in the production and at the EoL of the product is therefore
included in Table 1. The reduction of carbon footprint and energy consumed
associated with the recycling PEEK is not yet fully understood, and a consideration
of 30% reduction of these factors was estimated to be suitable for both.
To allow a realistic representation of current practice, the comparison of two forceps,
Steel (2) and PEEK (1), is used and discussed in this paper. It is thus assumed that
50% of the steel used in producing the forceps has been recy-cled and 100% will be
recycled at the EoL. For PEEK (1), the analysis assumes that no recycled material
has been used to produce the forceps and no material would be recycled.
Table 1 can be used to consider the quantitative assessment of each phase in the
product life cycle. During the mate-rial phase, the carbon footprint and energy
consumption are shown as 84 g and 918.5 kJ for Steel (2), and 77 g and 1500 kJ for
PEEK (1). In the manufacturing phase, which considers how the material is
transformed into the nal prod-uct, the PEEK injection-moulding process produces a

carbon footprint of 3.9 g and consumes 75 kJ. The values of the stainless steel
forging and machining processes are 21.0 g and 235.0 kJ.
The transportation life cycle phase assesses the energy impacts associated with
transporting a packaged medical for-ceps from the manufacturing region to the
retail outlet. Forceps Steel (2) produces a carbon footprint of 215.0 g requir-ing
3000.0 kJ when compared to PEEK (1) which produces 0.67 g of carbon footprint and
9.9 kJ of energy consumed. This relates to the current manufacture in Pakistan and
air transportation costs and their impact on the environment. Although not
considered here, it is of course possible to use this model to investigate the
potential for moving manufac-ture to another region.
There is no carbon footprint or energy consumed in the product use phase because
forceps do not require any elec-tricity or gas energy to full their function.
Considerations at the EoL stage of the life cycle include any emissions asso-ciated
with the disposal or recycling of the product. The main factors governing this phase
are how recyclable the product is, its size and weight, and how it is disposed of.
Here, Steel (2) produces a 7.9 g carbon footprint and con-sumes 5.60 kJ, while for
PEEK (1), the values are 2.6 g and 1.8 kJ.
The overall LCA result shown in Table 1 indicates that replacing the Steel (2) forceps
with PEEK (1) will achieve a 75% reduction in the carbon footprint, 96% drop in
water eutrophication, 79% fall in air acidication and a 62% decline in total energy
consumed. The assessments represented in Table 1 can be used to illustrate the
benets of increasing the recycling rate between Steel (1) and (2) forceps. This
enables reductions of 4% in carbon footprint, 12% in water eutrophication, 5% in air
acidication and 4% in energy consumed. For information, Table 1 indicates the
potential benets associated with PEEK (2) in which 50% of the material used to
manufacture the for ceps will have to been recycled, and 50% of the material will be
recycled at the EoL. It should be noted that the variations in recycling rate cited in
the table are selected from many possible combinations. All of the data gener-ated
and the associated information provided by this analysis are stored within the EcoProcess modules for subse-quent reuse in the future design activities.