Frequently asked questions

Is your plastic recyclable?

Yes! All our plastics are 100% recyclable. We only use low emission, environmentally friendly plastics and we recycle, not compost. Allowing us to reclaim the plastics we provide and reduce or prevent the purchase of new plastic raw materials.

Do you recycle the plastics?

Yes! We carry out two type of plastic recycling, pre and post-use. Pre-use PLA is stripped from the item once it is removed from the print-bed. This is then placed in a bin we provide, which is collected and swapped by our field engineers during maintenance visits. Post-use plastics are those which are placed in a bin after they have been used. These can contain any number of contaminants and we are working on a very special process to sterilise these. Watch this space!

Do you suggest we sterilise equipment that has just been produced?

Sometimes, yes. The reason sterilisation is necessary for some applications is nothing to do with the manufacturing process and everything to do with where it is, how it's handled and who's doing the handling. While tests show zero biological matter can survive the 200 - 250 degrees centigrade of print or the 400 degrees of recycling, there is a risk someone may handle it without clean hands. So it's good practice to sterilise where needed.

The same is true in traditional manufacturing. Production machines, while cleaned, don't immediately leave clean plastic. It is treated before sealing and this hasd to be double sealed for transit (which of course, emits CO2 at a rate of 160g/km/kg, where this process does not).

What is the carbon footprint of the device itself? How does it compare to existing models?

The device's parts are manufactured by the machines that make them up. In essence, the machine mostly make themselves, using the plastic. This lets us test the appliances by using the fixings themselves as the test models. If they hold together well, they pass.

If operated continuously, each device emits the equivalent of 153.6kg of CO2 per year, per device. Requiring 23.6 million devices in a space the size of the UK, to start to meet the same footprint as the existing delivery emissions. The UK doesn't require 10% of that value to meet its existing demand.

Furthermore, the energy used can come from renewable sources. This is not currently possible for the rest of health equipment manufacturing.

It is brilliant! Why can't I just take these and replace all manufacturing?

We have big plans, sure! As amazing as that is, over time this requires the creation of a huge network of Automedi appliances to match existing supply. Our subscription replacements mean faster devices will be provided which can start to get us closer to our goal of cutting out logistics and reducing both emissions and plastic creation as the appliances become faster and more efficient.

For now, Automedi takes its place in emergency alternative, on-demand supply.

How much does it cost for equipment?

Automedi uses a circular subscriptions model. As it is billed at a fixed price every month no matter how much you make, it makes a price comparison quite difficult. Since it's effectively all inclusive. Make as much as you need.

There are different ways of trying to compare old and new models. You can find out more about price comparisons, including a worked example, in this blog post.

How does its carbon emissions compare to existing logistics?

Automedi doesn't have a delivery step. So, the technical answer is only the emissions required to deliver the device to you in the first place and we are seeking electric vehicles for this too.

If operated continuously, each device emits the equivalent of 153.6kg of CO2 per year in manufacturing. To get the same footprint as the NHS, 23.6 million devices would need to be used in a space the size of the UK, to start to meet the same footprint as the existing delivery emissions. 10,000 times more than the number of automedi devices needed to service all hard plastics demand.

Furthermore, the energy used can come from renewable sources. This is not currently possible for the rest of health equipment manufacturing. Much of which relies on coal.

The NHS wants to reduce plastics. Is using plastics a good idea?

Towards Net Zero (October 2020) demonstrated the NHS commitment to the environment. That's great, but plastics by themselves, are not automatically evil as long as you choose the right plastics (plant based) and process them correctly (recylable, and recycle it). That is what makes this a great question. The NHS will adopt reusable items instead of single-use, disposable items, as long as safety, sterilisation and climate costs are maintained and employ novel polymers, like PLA (made from waste plant-based plastics) where it can't.

Unlike stainless steel and glass, plastics are strong, light and require a lot less energy to process, clean and recycle. Eradicating plastics completely risks greater injury, higher costs and sometimes a bigger overall carbon footprint than reyclable bioplastics due to the amount of cleaning or the higher initial processing temperatures.

Automedi works from a standard mains outlet, uses fully recyclable bioplastics and recycles them on-site. Removing all logistics and haulage from the cycle. Meaning its energy footprint is 33% of the standard plastics lifecycle. Contributing up to a 92% reduction in carbon footprint per kg across its lifetime and crucial cost savings at the same time.

How are Automedi and its products regulated?

Automedi had many things to consider. 1. Whether the Automedi appliance was a medical device. 2. Whether what it produces is a device 3. Who the manufacturer is We worked with the MHRA, BSI and NICE to evaluate the regulations that apply and what falls within scope. Both the MHRA and NICE confirm the Automedi appliance is not a medical device. However, given the versitility, it can manufacture medical devices. So catalogues are made available to health establishments who assume manufacturing responsibility in accordance with in-house manufacturing rules and, with the healthcare client, marked accordingly. Of course, we also offer non-medical catalogues, like lab products and accessories. More information on the regulations Automedi operates under, can be found at:


What types of sterilisation have items been tested with?

The products produced by Automedi can be sterilised and cleaned a variety of ways. Cold sterilised using sterilising fluid (e.g. Milton), microwave sterilisation, ultrasonic baths and even dishwashing!

Each product is provided with its sterilisation codes which tells you which sterilisation methods are usable on that product.

Can items be sterilised in an autoclave?

Traditional autoclaves are falling into less and less use. However, we have a range of ways of making items autoclave sterilisable, depending on the product design. Our optional high-temperature bioplastic filaments are able to absorb repeated treatment in autoclaves with less than 1% deformation in each axis.

Do your bioplastics degrade after multiple recycling?

Plastics can begin to degrade after multiple recycling generations in mechanical recyling processes. However, the effect of this can be mitigated through over-engineering, thoroughly mixing different age plastics and using checmical recycling. Which can take bioplastics from under a dozen recycles before degradation to over 100 times. This means that each item used compensates for 100 of the same item. When combined with the lack of oil and the emissions from delivery and freight, this means 1kg of plastic items makes up for 700kg of CO2. A radical reduction in carbon footprint.