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H2020

HARDATOM Report Summary

Project ID: 717153

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - HARDATOM (INDUCTION HARDENING WITH INTEGRATED ATOMIZED SPRAY QUENCHINGFOR HIGH QUALITY MATERIALS)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-06-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Our Company, TERMOMACCHINE, is specialized in design, manufacturing and sale of electromagnetic induction systems and installations. With more than 35 years of experience, we have developed a range of innovative machines that can operate in various industrial fields, such as automotive, tube & pipe, railways or oil & gas. To sustainably grow in the manufacturing world where the competition with the low-cost countries is particularly strong, our philosophy has always been to set the bar with high quality and reliable products and superior post sale services.

Our project, HARDATOM, is a new system integrating induction hardening with evaporation quenching using atomized spray. It heat treats non-expensive and maleable metal parts (particularly martensitic steels, unalloyed carbon steels and alloyed) into high quality hardened components – in terms of controlled metallurgical and dimensional controlled characteristics –, thus solving the current problems in hardening and quenching complex metal parts (low quality, distortions, cracks).
This innovative solution for a guarantee high quality hardened metals (deformation/distortion delta within 5%; no problem of non-conformity) is price-competitive. It is a clean process that does not rely on any harmful chemical and produces negligible waste (no use of polymer quenchant/oil). This new technology will be sold as a whole {induction hardening + quenching} system, while the retrofit market on existing TERMOMACCHINE induction systems will be considered to increase the penetration of our technology.

Following the success of our Phase 1 application, we have been performing a Feasibility Study during the last 4 months, in order to analyse the key areas of our project. On the technical side, we have carried on our developments and design works towards an industrial version of our innovative technology. We have also prepared a preliminary Execution Plan for the project. We have searched an industrial partner, expert in quenching technology, to consolidate our project and prepare its exploitation.
Commercially, we have studied in detail our target markets in order to prepare our marketing strategy. We have performed a Freedom-to-Operate analysis, which is required to check and validate the innovation of our technology. Lastly, we have prepared financial projections in order to evaluate the profitability and return on investment of the HARDATOM project.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Following the Work Plan as defined in the Phase 1 proposal, our team has been working on 3 main areas, namely technical developments, commercial/market and financial forecasts.

Technically, we have further studied and worked on CFD simulations to characterize the heating/quenching phenomena and improve the design of the quenching sub-system. We have carried on the adaptation of our induction system and the control unit (Hardware/Software). We have also prepared a preliminary Execution Plan for the project, covering tasks such as planning, budget, risk analysis and organization. We have searched a partner, expert in quenching technology, to consolidate our project.

Commercially, we have assessed the Metal processing market, and more exactly the Metal heat treatment segment, in order to prepare our marketing strategy. Focusing on end user applications, we have confirmed that the drives to lower the cost and to produce products and components with superior quality is pushing automotive, aerospace and industrial companies to improve their processes, making them the obvious target for efficient heat treatment solutions such as HARDATOM. Our initial target markets will be automotive and key industrial applications (e.g. tube & pipe, machinery components), which are our current markets. We have performed a Freedom-to-Operate analysis, which is required to check and validate the innovation of our technology. This analysis has confirmed the novelty of our technology and the absence of existing thread for its commercialization.

Finally, we have prepared financial projections in order to evaluate the profitability and return on investment of the HARDATOM project. Different sources of funding have been considered, leading to our decision to present a Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The main benefits lie in the optimum control of the geometrical and metallurgical characteristics of the metals during their hardening treatment as it will improve the overall production efficiency by drastically reducing scrap, reject, and/or rework. In the long term, this will provide the end users (e.g. automotive, tube, machinery or aerospace) the possibility to replace expensive and complex to form metal alloys by traditional and easier to work martensitic steels (hardness/strength) in more industrial applications (to make the end products lighter, stronger and more durable). For the end consumer, this is perceived as enhanced quality and added value, which for our customers represent a point of differentiation from their competitors, a higher perceived value for its components and, potentially, premium pricing.

Our system presents an optimal price/quality ratio, easy to implement and use, and durable. Besides, by not using polymer quenchants, the operating costs are further reduced (no specific disposal or recycling required).
Furthermore, not using quenchant nor quenching oil does not impact only on the natural environment, but also on the workers and operators frequently exposed to fumes and harmful substances. Mitigating these effects often carries significant cost for companies in the protection of workers. In this respect HARDATOM is a clear winner, as a clean process that does not rely on any harmful chemical and produces negligible waste.

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