Elital s.r.l. is a small enterprise of 11 people (n.2 of which are involved in electronic design and n.6 in electronic assembly) and a yearly turnover of 700 KECU, with two production lines:
- Production of electronic equipment to the specification of other industries and final users.
- Production and commercialization of electronic equipment with the Elital trade mark.
Elital was born as, and currently is, a subcontracting manufacturing company, i.e. mainly an assembler of products designed by others (1). However, in the more recent years, Elital has devised and designed a few products, aimed to didactic laboratories for private and public schools, consisting in simple spring beds that can be connected to a few power supplies and signal generators available on the consoles (2).
Looking for other possible markets, in 1993 , Elital proposed to LAquilas INFM unit (Solid State Physics National Institute) to industrialize an L Band Electron Spin Resonance Spectrometer developed by them: this Instrument can be used in biomedical laboratories to monitor the presence of paramagnetic substances such as free radicals in living tissues. Elital manufactures the microwave section of the instrument which consists of an L-band radio frequency (RF) bridge operated at 1 GHz that supplies the RF power to the sample and detects the amount of RF absorbed.
The bridge is currently built by assembling microwave coaxial components. We wanted to replace most of the components used in the bridge by a single multifunction integrated package, built using a microstrip technique on a PTFE/aluminum substrate. This should improve the performance of the system reducing the mismatching between different components and making the assembly less subject to microphones that are a limiting factor in the sensitivity of the spectrometer. Use of this new building technique has allowed to use much cheaper components presently available for the communication market. Once the prototype multicomponent has been tested and characterized the industrial construction takes a fraction of the time of the original bridge. The application experiment (AE) has allowed to learn the use of RF simulation software that in future can be used to start the production of other strip line components.
The cost of the AE has been 56 kECU, and the FU invested a further 40 kECU for the necessary ancillary design work.
The duration of the AE was 12 months plus a 2 month delay.
Pay-back period and ROI have been calculated on two hypotesis: n.18 pieces in three years and n. 60 pieces in the same period. In the first case the pay-back is n.5 years with a ROI of the 21%, while in the second case the payback will short to two years, with a ROI of 147%. These figures take into account the total costs substained of 96 kECU.