Fipofix, an Austrian company, has come up with a new balsa wood composite material to use to make better sailing yachts. The composite is made of a processed volcanic type of fiber that gives a better level of performance than current materials, such as carbon fiber and fiberglass. In addition, this new basalt fiber can be recycled. Now, this brand new yacht making process is being tested on the high seas to see how it holds up during sea travel.
This is not the first time a type of basalt fiber has been used or at least tested in the world. In fact, the original patent for this kind of fiber was made in 1923 in the United States, as it was then being considered for use by the military. However, after the Soviet Union broke up, the need went away and today it is made mostly in China and Eastern Europe, where they have been looking for non-military applications for it.
Fipofix says that they are trying out an innovation for basalt fiber in their new yacht making material that involves a different method of processing and using it than in the past. They began their project using the basalt fiber material in 2009, in a partnership of Fipofix and Kapsch and Yacht Construction Consulting, which is a technology group in Australia.
Between the two companies, they discovered a new method that enables them to process the basalt fibers from being very brittle into becoming strong enough to use for nautical use in making the fabric needed to help in yacht building. This new method of processing is deemed Fiber Positioning Fixation, which is how Fipofix got its company name. Fipofix got their new patent for this special process in 2011.
Fipofix says that the hardest part of this new process is not to damage the fibers while they are being manipulated during the manufacturing of the fabric for the yachts. In the past, as much as 40 percent of the fibers were destroyed or damaged, so Fipofix had to develop a way to process them that would lessen this problem. They needed to create a fiber strong enough to travel on the sea and bond the fibers without employing any foreign materials to hold them in place. They couldn’t use items like clamps or glue, etc., as that would ruin the fiber and it wouldn’t hold up to the process of making the fabric.
The resulting fiber is also totally recyclable, which helps the ecology and makes it earth friendly. Plus, it is created from a natural and sustainable source and it also is cheaper when compared to the costs of carbon or fiberglass products.
Fipofix’s new basalt fiber material is now being tested. Sixteen sailing yachts are being used in which the hull and deck have layers of the new basalt material in their construction. These yachts have already completed 10,000 nautical miles of testing and no damage was discovered, so in the future, the world is likely to see more of this material used in building yachts and other items.