Plastic: furniture and lab consumables

Kartell is a worldwide known exponent of Italian design in the dynamic field of furniture and decorative accessories. Elena Ciniselli, Customer Service Manager of Kartell Labware Division, explains in these pages how the company combined its high quality standards with production of disposable materials and instruments intended for laboratory, introducing the plastic as an alternative compound to glass and offering a very wide catalogue of consumables, accessories and precision instruments.

Which is the history of Kartell?
In late ‘40s in Milan, the young chemical engineer Giulio Castelli started the company for the production of design furniture, furnishings and home accessories, focusing on plastic and stretching out creative design and technological innovation. In the ‘80s, when plastic charm tended to vane, Claudio Luti, Castelli’s son in law, leaded the company to a revolution based on centrality of products, visually and chromatically re-qualified and recovered in terms of image and versatility. At the beginning of the new millennium, Kartell was more than ever a pioneer company, being the first in the world that used polycarbonate to create decorative objects, operating a “transparency revolution” and creating true icons rather than mere objects.

How was Labware Division born?
At the end of the ’50s, the technological development led naturally to the birth of the Labware Division, a section of Kartell that supplies products specifically for the laboratory market. The division uses raw materials, such as Polypropylene, Polystyrene and Polyethylene, to their best possible advantage, creating many products that are lightweight, highly resistant, inexpensive and the natural alternatives to glass.

How do the choice of materials and the design of your products take place?
The choice of the plastic to be used obviously depends on the individual application.
For this reason it is necessary to consider important factors such as chemical oncentration, contact time, ageing effects, thermal stress, aggressiveness of detergents, UV radiation exposure, sterilisation and other environmental effects. To bet on quality and advanced technology and the wide range of products in our catalogue make Kartell name known and recognized throughout the world.

How is your Labware offer organized?
Labware catalogue is divided into several sections; most of the products falls in Plastilab®, such as bottles, flasks and graduated elements, products for microscopy and microbiology, for filtration (including pumps and vacuum systems), clamps, pipettes, test tubes, hospital articles and finally Fluoroware, products in polytetrafluoroethylene, a polymer of high molecular weight with excellent chemical, electrical and thermal properties, low friction coefficient and high resistance to acids, alkalis and solvents. Within Dispolab®, disposable items are available such as vials, test tubes, microfuge tubes, tips, pipettes, bacteriology products and related accessories. In Liquid Handling and Technokartell® there are then devices to work with liquids, from large to less than microliter volumes, and stirring and heating instrumentation, respectively.

How much is important quality control in production?
Certification of our production standards has always been a priority of the group Kartell. It is this commitment to quality that led to Kartell being granted ISO 9001 certification in 1996, and will continue to be its driving force into the future. In 1996, Kartell decided to certify its Corporate Quality Management System in compliance with UNI EN ISO 9001:1994 standards. In 2005 the company aligned its Quality Management Systems with the standard ISO 9001:2000, that was renewed in 2008. In 2010 Kartell updated its certification standard and is now ISO 9001:2008 certified. A guarantor for this certification process is the Italian Institute of Plastics, which is itself accredited by SINCERT and CISQ, the Italian federation of accreditation bodies for Quality Management Systems. CISQ is part of IQNET (International Certification Network), a supranational body which guarantees mutual recognition of the ISO standard in countries worldwide. The attainment and maintenance of this certification, made possible by the commitment and perseverance of all company offices involved, testifies to the continued research into ever higher levels of quality in company management systems.

Has the environmental impact some weight in the business mission?
Recyclability, sustainability, eco-compatibility, in a nutshell, respect for the environment, these are the themes which the world community takes very much to heart. It may seem absurd to talk about environment in terms of productions having plastic materials as their common denominator. Nevertheless, contrary to common belief, Kartell products are perfectly recyclable. To simplify the recycling process, in fact, the various components of Kartell products can be easily separated out and traced back to their single material elements. The plastic parts of each product also bear clear identification markings in accordance with the DIN 6120 specification, part 2, just so that they can be correctly identified and to facilitate recycling. Within the generic logo indicating recyclability, there is a number identifying the different type of polymer used for the specific product, as required by relevant rules. In 2011 Kartell achieved UNI EN ISO 14001: 2004 certification for its support of an effective Environmental Management System, an international standard recognised throughout the world and developed about 10 years ago which defines development and implementation parameters in corporate processes in order to achieve an effective environmental management system. This certification attests that the organization certified has implemented a management system capable of controlling environmental impact in its own business and systematically endeavours to improve it in a sustainable, effective and consistent manner. ISO 14001 certification is not obligatory but is the result of the voluntary choice of the Company, which decides to define, implement, maintain and improve its own environmental management system. The production of high quality, safe and reliable design products with low environmental impact and which are recyclable: this is the challenge that Kartell is called upon to come to grips with as protagonist in the coming years.

by L.Galetto