Claude Maack, CEO of GRADEL, has kindly answered our questions.
What does this award mean to you?
This award is special to me as Mr Armand Delvaux was main shareholder and president of the board of GRADEL when I joined the company in 1991.
Mr Delvaux died in 1998 and Mr Eugène Biver, the director of GRADEL proposed me to acquire shares from GRADEL in 1999. My first shares of GRADEL were transferred from the wife of Mr. Delvaux.
Being awarded now 25 years later is an honor to me and my team with all the respect to Mr Delvaux himself as the circle is now closed.
The journey as an innovative engineering company is not the easiest way to make someone’s life, but I do not regret any day of my decision to fight hard for the daily challenges. GRADEL invented plenty of equipment over the past years and is serving diverse business fields such as Nuclear, Space, Glass and will contribute with Lightweight to Transportation sector in a broad way.
We have developed sustainable products for industries which have a positive impact on climate change long before people became aware that global warming matters to all of us. Nuclear industry as a low carbon emission energy source, Sputtering targets with a fully circular consumable product for glass industry, Space industry we serve since 2010 with innovative ground equipment and out of Space we lately developed now a disruptive lightweight technology which is a game-changing technology which will have an impact on global goals which concern humanity on a global scale.
I’m therefore proud of my team and proud that the innovation-strength of GRAM, which stands for Gradel Robotic Additive Manufacturing, could convince the jury to award us with the Grand Prix Armand Delvaux.
Do you know what the 10,000 euros will be used for?
The shareholders of GRADEL have a deal with their employees regarding the distribution of benefit of the group. For fostering teamwork and inter-company collaboration whenever it makes sense to improve the situation of all companies consolidated, we share a percentage of the profit with our employees according to a rule. As the massive R&D activities in lightweight over the past 4 years were lowering the result of Gradel group, the benefit to share was limited as well.
It is natural that these 10,000 Euros will be shared at equal part between all our employees of GRADEL group as a small thank-you with symbolic character.
Where does GRADEL LW stand in its development?
Gradel has made an inauguration on May 5th 2023, where we invited 250 guests. We opened our doors the first time to show our GRAM (Gradel Robotic Additive Manufacturing) Technology. What we commercialise is not just winding equipment or a component, it is a disruptive and complementary new technology in endless filament winding, based on 4 pillars:
- We propose new materials developed by LIST and GRADEL, which will fulfil circularity goals at highest criteria
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven software for the simulation driven digital process chain
- GRAM applicator, our industrialised winding equipment
- Process parameters and methods needed for simulation and production.
Actually, we have entered multiple orders for realising prototypes for OEM or Tier 1-n for Space (Airbus Defence & Space, Thales Alenia Space), Automotive (Jaguar Landrover, Stellantis, Italdesign), seat manufacturers (Sabelt, Lear) and companies active in cargo equipment.
The goal is to have a running internal production for components of logistic, having less regulations for penetrating into the market.
The perspectives are extremely high and promising, but the barrier for entering in high regulated markets as automotive and aeronautics are high as well and we operate in very competitive environment.
What will be the next important steps for your company?
Our strategic goal is to implement the GRAM technology as a standard, used in industry by 2030, enabling thus a significant impact on CO2 footprint reduction.
To achieve this goal, we need to accelerate the technology into the market. For having a large impact, we need to install as much GRAM applicators as possible in broad market.
Based on the feedback and gained experiences of our own production in Hautcharage, our applicator will be optimised in terms of reliability and maintenance friendliness.
As GRAM is a fully integrated technology, the machine itself cannot be sold alone, we will advance step by step as soon the technology bricks are ready to be commercialised:
- 2024: Realisation of services, feasibility studies, design-to manufacture of hardware components and prototypes for cargo, seats and space applications.
- Sales of the first GRAM applicator to Research Centres. Interest is confirmed by 3 research institutes (Germany, Portugal, South Korea).
- 2025: Leasing of winding equipment / license based / Transfer of Technology to Tier 1-n customers or OEMs for 24/7 production.
- Maintenance contracts for the supplied equipment.
- Contracts for Transfer of Technology and training services + Beta version of software.
- 2026: Licensing software for AI GRAM, including data driven algorithms which consider the gained experiences from the past in the pre-trained models
- 2027: Vitrimer resin and qualified fibers for enabling full circularity.
We will focus first on low regulated markets like reinforcement structures for cargo containers, and push in parallel with seat structures and other prototype components into automotive and aeronautic market.
R&D is continued in materials and software with partners in Luxembourg LIST and Data Design Engineering, specialised in Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven algorithms.
Two Research Science parks (Portugal and South Korea) have confirmed interest to invest in GRAM technology.
The acceleration of GRAM technology into broad market is labour and cost intensive. The actual team of 17 engineers needs to be increased significantly. The Acceleration into worldwide market is cost intensive, which will demand new and fresh capital.
We think BIG and are motivated to create an impact on environmental goals.
That’s our contribution to make this world a little bit better, “Made in Luxembourg”.