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The first DRY Electropolishing technology for high-precision components

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - DLyte PRO (The first DRY Electropolishing technology for high-precision components)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-06-30

Grinding and Polishing are surface finishing processes conceived to remove the asperities and defects inherent in the surface after the manufacturing process of every metal workpiece. By effectively removing these roughness, burs and micro-defects, the component is dramatically improved in terms of corrosion/oxidation resistance, lifespan, metal coupling, friction reduction, etc. for high-precision engineering applications within medical, automotive and aeronautics industries, there are extremely demanding cases where the quality of the surface proves to be CRITICAL: metallic parts as body implants, dental frames, bearings, gears teeth… In extreme environments, polishing means much more than “good looking”! Unfortunately, all the current solutions in the market are: 1) highly time-consuming if carried out through handheld processes, 2) extremely cost-intensive, and/or 3) render sub-optimal results to meet functional requirements.
Our disruptive patented technology can accurately and automatically grind and polish high-precision metal components in a single step and is a game changer to the current state of the market. The goal of the project is to design and manufacture a scaled-up, fully automated system to optimize costs, improve the performance and quality of the output, thus meeting customer requirements. The project is divided into 3 objectives: 1) Scale-up current design, design and manufacture it, 2) Resulting system to pass technical validation tests (in-house and outsourced) and 3) Fulfil management and commercial activities before market entry such as an IPR strategy, develop commercial documentation, update our business plan and develop a web platform.
During the life span of the project several areas across the company have actively participated in the project since it covered from the polishing process to the commercial workflow.
During the first months of the project the company focused through the test lab into characterizing and parametrizing the polishing process in order to be able to generate accurate polishing process recipes according to each material and geometry.
The results obtained by the test lab helped the company better understand the technology and therefore, the engineering team consisting on mechanical, electrical, electronics and software engineers was able to scale up the current design (Dlyte100) in terms of size and power. At the same time our subcontractor began designing a power supply to meet the requiremenents of the process mandated by the client parts needs. The project methodology based on MVPs lead an iterative design process allowing 1) begin testing from an early stage with an initial MVP / workbench and 2) optimising the next MVP’s design based on the experience of the first having been tested by the processing department.
Once the final MVP had been manufactured via key suppliers it was subjected to an electromagnetic compatibility test as well as an electrical safety test by an external certification body, hence achieving the CE mark.
The next step was to design and build an automation for the machine consisting on a carousel and a robot, which would be able to hold up to 64 holders and work without intervention for several hours at a time until having every holder polished. The complete system brings GPA to a new level, being able to fit now in mass production lines thanks to the reduction of the times and processes necessary to the machine such as loading and unloading the holders and the full automatization of our systems.
Moreover, from the initial objective of creating a CRM to improve the electrolyte sales, it developed into the creation of a complete web cloud platform able to register and control both electrolytes and machines, creation of polishing recipes to be downloaded by our customers, control the electrolyte stock and containing a document library where the customers can find documentation regarding the machines and electrolytes, such as manuals, brochures or datasheets. The platform offers an app suitable for both apple and android as well that one may use to better control their DLyte units. The platform is escalable in the future for the implementation of better maintenance services and customer support, among others.
During the second half both the processing team and the commercial team developed a united workflow where the potential customers can request a polished sample, this will be processed and analysed which results will be used by the commercial team to develop a case study and present final numbers to the customer. The potential customer can then calculate their needs based on the price of the machine and its amortization time as per the price of polishing one part.
Last but not least, the company has closely collaborated with potential customers in order to define requirements and unforeseen needs and with research labs and associations to investigate, develop detailed benchmarking, publish articles and participate in webinars and workshops.
The impact of our innovation on the company financials: Till the date, GPA turnover accounted for 300k€ in 2015, 600k€ in 2016, 1,8M€ in 2017 and 3,5M€ in 2018 and 6M€ in 2019.
By means of DLyte PRO Project materialization, our turnover will exponentially increase during the next years, as well as the net benefits. The European market presents our strongest economic potential, as we have already analysed in depth the potentials during the market assessment. We have segmented all other regions in developed and developing markets, as China and India for instance possess high potential in terms of demand, but lower acquisition margin since the labour cost in those regions is a key competitive factor.
We have estimated DLyte’s sales forecast figures by means of: a. Market assessment (SAM/SOM) b. Number of clients and loyalty with a bottom-up approach based on our experience with our DLyte pilot users and existing customers of MURUA, c. Distribution contracts already signed with distributors, with minimum units sold committed per year d. Pre-orders already received. We forecast to sell about 684 machines (DLyte100 and DLyte1000) until 2025, which lead to revenues projections of more than €39.6 Million.
Impact on job creation: GPA started its activity with a 4-person team, which has since grown to 64 to date, covering technical, administrative and business areas. DLyte PRO operation will be traduced in direct labour needs in GPA of around 48 vacancies (additional to current headcount): Increase commercial department for the new product with Sales Eng. & a Product Manager, additional employees to cover the new subsidiaries (4-5/each), increase engineering team and include a logistics and quality assessment units. In addition, boost the current marketing department and create a basic after-sales support call-centre.