Competition: The Sustainable Innovation Fund: SBRI phase 1
Funding Body: Innovate UK
This project is intended to directly improve business and industry efficiency through providing a sustainable solution to industry pains.
Across a wide number of applications, there is a need to modify the surface texture of components providing the optimum function and performance. However, current surface texturing and finishing operations across high-value manufacturing are heavily dependent upon dirty, dangerous, and unsustainable legacy processes, with currently no meaningful alternatives available offering a level of performance at cost whilst delivering a sustainability advantage.
Finishing processes in high-value manufacturing typically involve acid-based chemical etching and media blasting due to their knowledge base and ease of working difficult materials. Although the hardware is considered relatively low cost, there are significant cost inefficiencies caused by non-value-added process steps, enlarged factory footprint and high operating and infrastructure costs. Additionally, current processes have a significant environmental impact. High-value manufacturing in the UK consumes tens of thousands of tons of noxious acids annually requiring safe transportation and storage and translates into hundreds of thousands of tonnes of toxic acidic liquid waste at the end-of-life requiring disposal. The waste from media blasting is a contaminated powder requiring recovery and disposal to avoid it becoming airborne and creating a respiratory threat, which is extremely difficult and adds significant direct and indirect costs. Both the Environment Agency and HSE share the desire to remove these processes and associated environmental and operational impacts exemplified in programmes such as REACH and outlined in the government’s new chemical strategy “to develop a non-toxic environment by setting out a clear, ambitious vision for the type of chemical environment we hope to live in”.
TextureJet has the technological potential to replace these legacy processes in their entirety.
Through this project TextureJet will demonstrate the viability of its technology to vastly reduce the environmental impact of finishing technologies by providing a cost-efficient solution for taking components from furnace to finish where one does not currently exist enabling UK manufacturing to ‘build back better’.