CORDIS - EU research results

New Innnovative and cost effective metal cleaning machine

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - METALCLEAN (New Innnovative and cost effective metal cleaning machine)

Reporting period: 2016-02-01 to 2016-05-31

The METALCLEAN project objective is to make available to the market a metal cleaning machine that has the ability to apply precision cleaning on specific metal parts, at a selling price below market and generating significant operating cost saving, with a low environmental impact.

The project will be carried out by our company, ILSA, which has a 40-year-experience in cleaning machine operating with solvents and the experience of many product launches since its creation.

Companies manufacturing or assembling metal parts for other industries like the automotive or aerospace industries have difficulties to meet in one metal cleaning process the 3 targets of (1) precision cleaning of oil and dusts on metal parts with a complex geometrical shape or small holes, or delicate components including plastic, (2) at a reasonable operating cost and (3) taking into account the lowest environmental impact due to the solvent type used in existing efficient metal cleaning machines that can be Ozone Depleting Solvents (ODS) or Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP).

The alternatives available on the market are metal cleaning machine with a closed circuit using high boiling point solvents. Those machine usually have a high energy consumption due to their vacuum system and have not got the capacity to apply precision cleaning on specific metal parts with a complex geometrical shape or small holes, or delicate components.

METALCLEAN is the solution as it is operating with the new generation solvents that have a low surface tension permitting the cleaning of metal parts with a complex geometrical shape or small holes, or delicate components. Moreover, those solvents have a low boiling point, which lowers the temperature requirements during the cleaning process compared to existing metal cleaning machines, thus creating savings in energy of 50%. The small size of the machine and its ease of use also generate savings in operating costs. About the environmental impact of the machine, 95% to 98% of the solvent is recovered throughout the process, limiting its contact with the atmosphere and the solvents used are non-ODS and non-HAP.

The objective is to launch METACLEAN in the quarter 4 of 2018 and to sell it in the USA, various countries in Europe, India and China. In 2022, we have made projection of 93 units of METALCLEAN to be sold on that year, generating a revenue of €7,8 million for METALCLEAN and €17,6 million for ILSA. This represents a growth of 85% on sales compared to 2015 for ILSA.
Step 1 - TRL0 to TRL6 – Q1 – Q2 – Q3 2015 (TRL = Technology Readiness Level): Our METALCLEAN project started in Q4 2012 with our research on new generation solvents and on ways to make use of this type of solvents in a closed circuit metal cleaning machine. We then spent €187k on building the METALCLEAN prototype that went through 3 stages until obtaining an operating prototype tested in the relevant environment of one solvent supplier, corresponding to TRL6. However, this TRL-6 prototype was not completely responding to the market needs, mainly because of the too much time consuming maintenance, mandatory to keep operative the prototype.

Step 2 – Phase 1 grant – Q4 2015: We then applied and were granted a fund of €71,429 through the European Commission H2020 program to allow us to carry forward a feasibility study of METALCLEAN through a technical viability plan, a commercialization plan and a financial study.

Step 3 – Phase 1 execution – February to June 2016: in this period, we achieved the METALCLEAN feasibility study and concluded in the high potential of the project and the capacity of our company ILSA, to carry on that project successfully. We completed the tasks planned in our Phase 1 proposal with the deliverable being our feasibility study document: the technical viability plan in months 1 to 3, the commercialization plan in month 2 to 4 and the financial feasibility study in months 3 to 4. The technical viability plan enabled us to confirm the viability of our existing prototype and to identify areas of improvement with specific targets and tasks to develop during phase 2. The commercialization plan confirmed the potential markets for our products and closely identified the targeted sectors in the metalworking and metal article industry and company types. The financial study concluded in a total investment for the METALCLEAN project of €1,9 million generating annual sales in 2022 of €7,8 million and an accumulated operating profit of €6,96 million. This means a return on investment of 3,71 by the end of 2022 and a payback after less than 2 years of the product commercialization. The part of investment linked to the Phase 2 project amounts to €1,6 million including a request for contribution to the European Commission of €1,1 million.
Positive impact of METALCLEAN on ILSA, the company: thanks to this project, ILSA will be able to improve its financial outlook after having been impacted by the global financial crisis. Our company will come back to profit through its increase in sales (+85% in 2022 compared to 2015). ILSA’s gross margin will improve from 2,62% in 2015 to 13,8% in 2022. and we will reinforce the come back to a positive profit, started in 2015, after its successive net losses in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Positive impact of METALCLEAN on European employment: ILSA, as a manufacturer of metal cleaning machines, is part of the metalworking and metal article industry, which is the major employer in the EU-27 manufacturing industry where it take the share of 12,5%. METALCLEAN will generate the creation of 8 jobs during the first 4 years of commercialization and will help ILSA to maintain its current headcount of 55 employees.

Positive impact of METALCLEAN on the European competitiveness: the metalworking and metal articles industry is a strategic sector for the European manufacturing as it is the mandatory supply chain link between their suppliers of the steel and non-ferrous industries and its clients from a wide range of manufacturing sectors like the automotive or aerospace industries. This sector is dominated by small enterprises that ensure the integration of the supply chain and therefore it is important to support this sector through projects like METALCLEAN to strengthen this strategic link of the manufacturing supply chain. The high content of innovation and technology of the METALCLEAN project is good for the sector image and competitiveness and follows the actual trend of the sector, which is another reason to support our project.

Positive impact of METALCLEAN on the Environment: the metal cleaning process, like other manufacturing processes using solvents have been under pressure by the North American and European regulations on the environment. In fact, those processes operate with chlorinated solvents or hydrocarbons which are ozone depleting solvents and can also be hazardous air pollutants. Our METALCLEAN machine uses the new generation of solvents that are non-ozone depleting and non-hazardous air pollutant and thus decreases the environmental impact of the metal cleaning process.
Metalclean proejct