Title
Monitor for dental furnaces
FPGA development to drive either the HERCULES or the VGA monitors for dental furnaces without any software modifications for the migration from the HERCULES to the VGA resolution.
Technologies used

 FPGA

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    331 Medical and surgical equipment
    30 Computers and other information processing equipment
Abstract
KEL is a well-known Greek manufacturer of dental equipment. The company supplies the local market since 1988 with high technology furnaces used by dental laboratories specialised in construction of artificial teeth. Since 1997, KEL also manufactures one of the most advanced worldwide casting machines, also used by dental laboratories. The main products of the company, so far, are the vacuum porcelain furnaces.
The objective of this application experiment was to implement an FPGA, which would adapt the porcelain furnace microprocessor to new peripherals. The main, and most demanding, peripheral is a VGA monitor, which has replaced the Hercules monitors that were used by the original design of the furnace. The need of high speed digital circuits along with the non standard for VGA monitors format of the images generated by the software of the furnace, had made the conventional design of the VDU card non functional. MSI circuits of High Speed CMOS technology could no longer support the new monitors and the company lost a huge share of the local market the last 4 years. The FPGA implementation of the VDU card turned out to be the most efficient way as it offered high speed, flexibility in the design, small size PCB, sort time to market and relatively low production cost.
The project lasted 11 months with a company effort of 12.5 person-months and a funding of 61.6 KECUs.
KEL is expecting to increase the net profit of the company by more than 100 KECUs for the year 1999. A prototype introduced during an exhibition in Athens (September 19th). The company started (September 1998) the production of the SAT (Series 4) porcelain furnace model and 5 pieces have already been sold (end of November 1998). Estimated payback period is 7 months from the end of AE. The FUSE ROI ratio for the next 3 years (1999 - 2001) is expected to be 672% as the net profit will exceed the 400 KECUs.
The main issue from the AE for KEL was the economical one as the company straggled for a couple of years after the loss of the market. A second issue is the adopted technology. The company already plans to apply the FPGA technology to the casting machine increasing significantly the functionality of the device. KEL also values the co-operation with the University of Patras, which acted as a subcontractor and is looking for a permanent co-operation in the future.
It is believed that the experiences and lessons learnt through this experiment by KEL will be of interest and benefit for companies with conventional capabilities on microelectronics and have to improve their products using a new technology.
Company
KEL I. KIRIAZOPOULOS & CO G.P.
14 Stavropoulou St. GRE
265 00 Rio - Patras Greece

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

FPGA technology provided KEL I. KIRIAZOPOULOS & CO G.P. with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.


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