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Old 24-02-2008, 04:02   #1
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Basalt fiber for yacht production




After extensive testing African Cats has started to produce the FastCat catamarans and the Rigid inflatables out of Basalt fiber.
The properties of basalt fiber compared with E glass , the most common used glass type are excellent.
In testing we found out that the Basalt/epoxy sample's strength tested 13.7 percent higher than that of the E-glass sample and exhibited 17.5 percent greater stiffness, although the basalt sample was 3.6 percent heavier than the E-glass sample
In order to keep the strenght in the laminate the same we are able to save 10 % weight in the laminate or a weight saving of 300 kilo,s can be achieved in the hull deck , bulkheads and total interior furniture,
This is a weight saving of 6.5 % on the total weight ready to sail of the New FastCat 455 bringing the weight down to 4500 kilo in the diesel powered version.
We are now also producing battens for the mainsail that will be tested this coming summer, the advantage here is that the chance of breakage is smaller and 22 % weight savings can be achieved in our foam filled battens.

Basalt is a hard, dense volcanic rock that can be found in most countries across the globe, basalt is an igneous rock, which means it began in a molten state. For many years, basalt has been used in casting processes to make tiles and slabs for architectural applications. Additionally, cast basalt liners for steel tubing exhibit very high abrasion resistance in industrial applications. In crushed form, basalt also finds use as aggregate in concrete.


Camera tripod specialist Gitzo SA has added a line of tripods and monopods that feature telescoping legs made from basalt fiber composites. The line joins tripod offerings in carbon composites and aluminum. At left is a fully extended basalt monopod; at right, a close up of a basalt tripod.
More recently, continuous fibers extruded from naturally fire-resistant basalt have been investigated as a replacement for asbestos fibers, in almost all of its applications. In the last decade, basalt has emerged as a contender in the fiber reinforcement of composites. Proponents of this late-comer claim their products offer performance similar to S-2 glass fibers at a price point between S-2 glass and E-glass, and may offer manufacturers a less-expensive alternative to carbon fiber for products in which the latter represents over-engineering.
IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES
Paul Dh from Paris, France, was the first with the idea to extrude fibers from basalt. He was granted a U.S. patent in 1923. Around 1960, both the U.S. and the former Soviet Union (USSR) began to investigate basalt fiber applications, particularly in military hardware, such as missiles.
In the northwestern U.S., where large basalt formations are concentrated, Prof. R.V. Subramanian of Washington State University (Pullman, Wash.) conducted research that correlated the chemical composition of basalt with the conditions for extrudability and physio-chemical characteristics of the resulting fiber. Owens Corning and several other glass companies conducted independent research programs, which resulted in several U.S. patents. Around 1970, however, U.S. glass companies abandoned basalt fiber research for strategies that favored their core product. The result was a better glass fiber including successful development of S-2 glass fiber by Owens Corning.
During the same period, research in Eastern Europe, which had been carried out in the 1950s by independent groups in Moscow, Prague and other locales, was nationalized by the USSR's Defense Ministry and concentrated in Kyiv, Ukraine, where technology was subsequently developed in closed institutes and factories. After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, the results of Soviet research were declassified and made available for civilian applications.
Today, basalt fiber research, production and most marketing efforts are based in countries once aligned with the Soviet bloc. Companies currently involved in production and marketing include Kamenny Vek (Dubna, Russia), Technobasalt (Kyiv, Ukraine), Hengdian Group Shanghai Russia & Gold Basalt Fibre Co. (Shanghai, China), and OJSC Research Institute Glassplastics and Fiber (Bucha, Ukraine). Basaltex, a division of Masureel Holding (Wevelgem, Belgium), and Sudaglass Fiber Technology Inc. (Houston, Texas) convert basalt fiber into woven and nonwoven reinforcement forms for the European and North American markets, respectively.
LIKE, BUT UNLIKE
Basalt fiber is produced in a continuous process similar in many respects to that used to make glass fibers. Quarried basalt rock is first crushed, then washed and loaded into a bin attached to feeders that move the material into melting baths in gas-heated furnaces. Here, the process is actually simpler than glass fiber processing because the basalt fiber has a less complex composition. Glass is typically 50 percent silica sand in combination with oxides of boron, aluminum and/or several other minerals materials that must be fed independently into a metering system before entering the furnace. Unlike glass, basalt fibers feature no secondary materials. The process requires only a single feed line to carry crushed basalt rock into the melt furnace. On the other hand, basalt fiber manufacturers have less direct control over the purity and consistency of the raw basalt stone. While basalt and glass are both silicates, molten glass, when cooled, forms a noncrystalline solid. Basalt, however, has a crystalline structure that varies based on the specific conditions during the lava flow at each geographical location. Basalt combines three silicate minerals plagioclase, pyroxene and olivine. Plagioclase describes a number of triclinic feldspars that consist of sodium and calcium silicates. Pyroxenes are a group of crystalline silicates that contain any two of three metallic oxides, magnesium, iron or calcium. Olivine is a silicate that combines magnesium and iron (Mg, Fe)2SiO4. This potential for compositional variety means that the mineral levels and chemical makeup of basalt formations can differ significantly from location to location. Moreover, the rate of cooling, when the original flow reached the earth's surface, also influenced the crystal structure. Basaltex R&D director Jean-Marie Nolf notes, therefore, that despite its ready availability from mines and open-air quarries around the world, only a few dozen locations contain basalt that has been analyzed and qualified as suitable for manufacture of continuous thin filaments. Ihor Markuts, sales and marketing director for Technobasalt, maintains that basalt formations in the Ukraine are particularly well suited to fiber processing. Dr. Boris Mislavsky, director of marketing and development for Kamenny Vek, agrees. His company currently gets all of its raw material from western Ukraine. While the company has a backup mine located in Russia, with a chemical composition close to its main source, it prefers to mine material from a single source. "All our materials come from the same quarry," he explains.
ROCK TO FIBER
As crushed basalt enters the furnace, the material is liquefied at a temperature of 1500C/2732F (glass melt point varies between 1400C and 1600C). Unlike glass, which is transparent, the opaque basalt absorbs rather than transmits infrared energy. Therefore it is more difficult for the overhead gas burners used in conventional glass furnaces to uniformly heat the entire basalt mix. With overhead gas, the melting basalt must be held in the reservoir for extended periods of time up to several hours to ensure a homogenous temperature. Basalt producers have employed several strategies to promote uniform heating, including the immersion of electrodes in the bath. But Ihor Markuts, sales and marketing director for Technobasalt, notes that his company prefers gas heating to electric, for quality reasons, despite increased manufacturing costs. Finally, a two-stage heating scheme is employed, featuring separate zones equipped with independently controlled heating systems. Only the temperature control system in the furnace outlet zone, which feeds the extrusion bushings, requires great precision, so a less sophisticated control system may be used in the initial heating zone.


A simplified diagram of a basalt fiberization processing line: 1) crushed stone silo; 2) loading station; 3) transport system, 4) batch charging station, 5) initial melt zone, 6) secondary heat zone with precise temperature control, 7) filament forming bushings, 8) sizing applicator, 9) strand formation station, 10) fiber tensioning station, 11) automated winding station.
Like glass filaments, basalt filaments are formed by platinum-rhodium bushings. As they cool, a sizing agent is applied and the filaments are moved to speed-controlled fiber stretching equipment and then on winding equipment, where the fiber is spooled.
Because the basalt filament is more abrasive than glass, the expensive bushings once needed more frequent refurbishing. As bushings wear, their cylindrical holes wear unevenly, degrading process control. Without timely maintenance, the out-of-round apertures form filaments with an unacceptably wide diameter range, producing a roving with unpredictable breaking loads, explains Nolf. While glass fiber bushings last six months or more before they need to be melted, reformed and redrilled, a bushing used for basalt fiber production previously lasted anywhere from three to five months. Kamenny Vek, however, reports that process control efforts have extended bushing life to a similar six-month cycle.
FIBER VS. FIBER
On balance, these differences in processing and maintenance lead to overall operating costs that exceed those for processing E-glass fiber, but basalt fiber proponents say that their product clearly outperforms E-glass in composites. In chopped mat, roving and unidirectional fabric forms, basalt fibers exhibit a higher breaking load and higher Young's modulus (a measure of the stiffness of a given material) than E-glass. In a study of basalt fibers and E-glass fibers, conducted by Professor Ignaas Verpoest at the Composites Dept. of the University of Leuven in Belgium, unidirectional prepregs were produced by impregnating E-glass and basalt roving with epoxy and winding each on a mandrel, and then compacting the laminate until complete cure was achieved. Samples of 135-mm by 15-mm (5.3-inches by 0.6-inch) were cut and measured for thickness. The pieces were then subjected to a three-point bending test (ISO 178) and the ILSS test (ISO 14130) to test strength and stiffness. Verpoest reports that each sample had a fiber volume fraction of 40 percent, but the basalt/epoxy sample's strength tested 13.7 percent higher than that of the E-glass sample and exhibited 17.5 percent greater stiffness, although the basalt sample was 3.6 percent heavier than the E-glass sample.
Additionally, basalt fibers are naturally resistant to ultraviolet (UV) and high-energy electromagnetic radiation, maintain their properties in cold temperatures, and provides better acid resistance. Reportedly, basalt also is superior in the realm of worker safety and air quality as well. Markuts points out that since basalt is the product of volcanic activity, the fiberization process is more environmentally safe than that of glass fiber. The "greenhouse" gases that might otherwise be released during fiber processing, he says, were vented millions of years ago during the magma eruption. Further, basalt is 100 percent inert, that is, it has no toxic reaction with air or water, and is noncombustible and explosion proof.
FIBER TO FABRIC
Once producers mastered fiber manufacture, they faced additional challenges as the product was converted to useful reinforcement forms. Basaltex, for example, found early on that woven basalt fabrics straight from a weaver's loom were fragile and easily damaged when handled, exhibiting broken fibers when sharply folded or bent, and were irritating to the skin. In order to make the product more stable, Basaltex developed a proprietary silane-based sizing that facilitates the post-manufacture processing. The coating doesn't generate toxic smoke when heated and does not degrade the fiber's fire-resistance properties. Mislavsky observes that a significant factor in initially poor fabric performance was fiber damage that occurred during the fiberization process. He maintains that, today, a combination of sizing and refined production techniques minimizes damage and enables basalt fiber manufacturers to produce strong fibers that can be braided and woven without inhibiting desired performance.
While basalt fiber is still not widely used, it is slowly making its way into the hand of consumers. At price points that vary between S-glass ($5/lb to $7/lb) and E-glass ($0.75/lb to $1.25/lb), basalt fibers have properties akin to S-glass. A common use is in the fire protection sector because of its high melt-point. Fire-blocking tests performed by Basaltex placed its basalt fabric in front of a Bunsen burner, placing the yellow tip of the flame in direct contact with the fabric. The yellow tip reaches temperatures of 1100C to 1200C (2012F to 2192F) and causes the fabric to become red hot, similar to a metal fabric. When exposed to the flame, basalt fiber maintains its physical integrity for extended periods of times, but the company found that a fabric made of E-glass with the same density can be pierced by the flame in a matter of seconds.
It's burn resistance has earned basalt fiber a role as an asbestos replacement in friction applications, such as composite brake pads, because it does not soften at elevated temperatures and won't deposit on its counterpart (either the disc or brake drum) in the braking system. Continuous basalt fibers also are in use as reinforcement in other conventional composite structures. According to Nolf, basalt fibers wet easily and therefore enable fast resin impregnation, making them suitable for resin transfer molding, infusion molding and pultrusion. "All the products that are made of glass can be made of basalt," Markuts claims.
PROTOTYPE TO PRODUCTION
Mislavsky says that Kammeny Vek currently has several customers using its standard reinforcement products. One company of note is glass fiber manufacturer Ahlstrom (Helsinki, Finland), which is supplying biaxial basalt fabrics for testing in wind turbine blade laminates. "The wind blade business is driven by stiffness," Mislavsky says. Basalt fiber laminates have a 15 percent higher modulus and 25 percent higher tensile strength over E-glass, making its use in some zones of the wind blades ideal. Project engineers use a computerized system to calculate the advantages and disadvantages of different materials and sizings. Prototypes are undergoing a series of tests, and Mislavsky expects the blades to be certified by Germanisher Lloyd later this year. )
OEMs are beginning to investigate basalt fiber products for consumer goods as well. Gitzo SA (Nogent Le Phaye, France), which sells professional tripods and heads, recently debuted its basalt tripods and monopods. The company offers several different models to suit the needs of almost any photographer. Gitzo entered composites manufacture with its carbon fiber tripods, and now uses its fiber-reinforced tube fabricating experience to make basalt versions. The company chose basalt fiber because it offers a strong composite at less cost than carbon. Basalt tripod legs are roughly 20 percent lighter than aluminum legs and better at damping vibration.
Lib Technologies (Seattle, Wash.) currently sells two different snowboard models that incorporate a basalt fabric instead of the traditional fiberglass used on many of its models. The boards, manufactured by Mervin Manufacturing (Seattle, Wash.), are part of the company's Dark and Phoenix series and are made with a product the company calls Golden Fleece Basalt, from an unidentified supplier. The boards contain a proprietary wooden core with a basalt fiber lining on each side that results in lighter, stiffer snowboards. Mervin Manufacturing also produced a snowboard for QuikSilver using Basaltex products. The board was on exhibit in the Basaltex booth at the 2005 JEC Composites Show.
In the automotive industry, Azdel Inc. (Southfield, Mich.), a 50/50 joint venture of GE Advanced Materials (Pittsfield, Mass.) and glass-fiber producer PPG Industries (Pittsburgh, Pa.), developed VolcaLite, a thermoformable thermoplastic composite that combines polypropylene (PP) and long chopped basalt fiber. The company claims that the basalt/PP system offers acoustic absorption properties, low coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE), and a high strength-to-weight ratio, providing good ductility. It is initially targeted for auto headliners, which can be made 50 percent thinner than conventional systems, says the company.
Technical Fibre Products Ltd. (Kendal, Cumbria, U.K. and New York, N.Y.) has taken chopped basalt fibers and made gossamer nonwoven veils. The company is running trials of the product in laminated and thermoformed automotive components. Johns Manville Europe (Bad Homburg, Germany) also has produced wet-layed basalt veils.
Basalt fiber is becoming a contender in infrastructure applications as well. Although the company no longer produces its own fiber, Sudaglass (Houston, Texas) produces several products from basalt fiber, including concrete reinforcement rods. Pultruded from unidirectional basalt fiber, the rods are reportedly 89 percent lighter than steel reinforcement rods, have the same coefficient of thermal expansion as concrete and are less susceptible to degradation in an alkaline environment. The company claims that that 1 ton of basalt rods can provide reinforcement equal to 4 tons of steel rods.
As commercialization continues, consistent fiber supply also looks promising. Kamenny Vek, for example, is looking to launch a second furnace later this year and hopes to turn out 30,000 metric tonnes (66 million lb) per annum by 2009, Mislavsky says.
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Old 24-02-2008, 05:01   #2
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Funny you should post that fastcat. I've got some basalt sleeving that I'm using to make various components for our boat. It's a remarkable material. I got mine from www. sollercomposites. com Right now they're only carrying sleeves but expect more fabrics (common weaves and multi-axials) to become available soon. Their biggest market right now is with model rocketeers.
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Old 24-02-2008, 07:07   #3
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Components? Show and tell, pictures?

Hi Rick. Got any pics of basalt components? I have never even handled basalt fiber or fabric although I have heard of it. It sounds interesting. Is it a candidate for your infused hull? Which is another question, which perhaps belongs over on the infusion thread, but you said something about infusing a 30 ft hull? Details would be interesting.

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Old 24-02-2008, 09:09   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knottybuoyz View Post
Funny you should post that fastcat. I've got some basalt sleeving that I'm using to make various components for our boat. It's a remarkable material. I got mine from www. sollercomposites. com Right now they're only carrying sleeves but expect more fabrics (common weaves and multi-axials) to become available soon. Their biggest market right now is with model rocketeers.
Hallo Knottybuoyz
we just had 10.000 kilo of basalt fiber woven in triax , quadrax and uni directional for the production of our cats, we love the material , it infuses better than both glass and carbon and is stronger than glass by 13 to 20 % , just curiosity what do you use these sleeves for ?

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Old 24-02-2008, 09:29   #5
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just curiosity what do you use these sleeves for ?
A few things, stern tube, chase tubes, spars etc. Nothing structural planned. If I could find biaxial basalt fabrics in NA I'd probably use them instead of the biaxial glass fabrics specified by the designer. I don't think they've caught on enough in NA to make them available in any quantities. At least not that I've been able to find them.

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Old 24-02-2008, 09:33   #6
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Hi Rick. Got any pics of basalt components? Is it a candidate for your infused hull? Which is another question, which perhaps belongs over on the infusion thread, but you said something about infusing a 30 ft hull? Details would be interesting.
Hi John

Nothing yet. My first tries have been failures. Still on a steep learning curve. The basalt sleeves are my first experience with this type of material. It takes some getting used to handling it. The fibers are a lot thinner than the fiberglass stuff I've used and very friable (flies away easily when handled. Finer than angel hair!!!). I've got a stern tube laid up and will try to get it infused in a week or so.

We had a family emergency week before last that's changed the master plan somewhat. We're going to enjoy our current boat this summer and then try to sell it before starting the trawler. Until then I've got a few smaller projects to tackle. I'll post pics when I can.

Like I said in my previous post I'd use basalt over glass if I could find it in NA. Soller Composites will also dye it to suit your application so it's good for cosmetic parts as well. The only place I've actually seen it used is in model rockets.
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Old 24-02-2008, 10:28   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knottybuoyz View Post
A few things, stern tube, chase tubes, spars etc. Nothing structural planned. If I could find biaxial basalt fabrics in NA I'd probably use them instead of the biaxial glass fabrics specified by the designer. I don't think they've caught on enough in NA to make them available in any quantities. At least not that I've been able to find them.

Rick
Basalt Fiber in Europe was not available in Triax or Quad or even in Unidirectional.
We are building our RIB bottom with it and offcourse the Complete FastCat 455 some parts are made in carbon like the bimini,keels,rudders,winch supports etc.
We are starting to produce the sail battens and the stanchions from this superb material.

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Old 24-02-2008, 12:08   #8
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Basalt is a hard, dense volcanic rock that can be found in most countries across the globe,
Hey dose this mean we are about to come full circle in the use of FerroCement?? ;-) :-)

On the serious side though, is this stuff easily handled and cut??
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Old 24-02-2008, 17:11   #9
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On the serious side though, is this stuff easily handled and cut??
The sleeves are hard to cut. Normal scissors will just slide off of it. Roller cutters shred it to pieces. The electric sheers I have just get tangled and rip it up. I don't have any Carbon Fiber sheers but might have to get some. You have to handle it carefully, the sleeves anyways. I've had to make the shaft tube a lot longer because the ends fray so much. I'll cut it to length after it's hardened.
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Old 25-02-2008, 00:31   #10
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Hey dose this mean we are about to come full circle in the use of FerroCement?? ;-) :-)

On the serious side though, is this stuff easily handled and cut??
We use kevlar/twaron scizzors and that works great , these are scizzors with a stepped edge sn the material does not slide away.
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Old 26-02-2008, 06:10   #11
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SCISSORS AND SHEARS FOR KEVLAR (Aramid) CARBON AND GLASS FIBERS, PRE-PREG AND COMPOSITES
Scissors and Shears for KEVLAR, Carbon Fibers, Fiber
Not cheap ...
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Old 26-02-2008, 07:01   #12
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SCISSORS AND SHEARS FOR KEVLAR (Aramid) CARBON AND GLASS FIBERS, PRE-PREG AND COMPOSITES
Scissors and Shears for KEVLAR, Carbon Fibers, Fiber
Not cheap ...
No you are right , not cheap and you can only use them for one type of material so do not use your kevlar scizzers for glass because it will become unusable for kevlar

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Old 26-02-2008, 07:16   #13
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Its all in the sharpening

I use a $100 pair of Kevlar shears, very nice until they need sharpening, which is costly if you send them back to the manufacturer. Instead, I just sharpen them myself on a very coarse (no finer than 36 grit) sanding belt, which leaves the edges rough enough to grip the fabric so it won't just slide out of the blades. You can do this with any heavy duty pair of shears, they don't have to start life as Kevlar shears, but they do need to be set tight. I don't mind using mine for glass since it only takes a minute to sharpen them.

Back when my cuts were 26 ft long my forearm would get a little tired with the shears; the best solution I found was a little Eastman electric disc cutter, Eastman, click on products, manual cutters, scroll down to the Chickadee D2, which did a great job on Kevlar fabric. Cleaner cut than the shears, very fast, and not that expensive either.

Here is a picture of one of my boats that needed a lot of 26 ft cuts in Kevlar and carbon. Fastest tender on the water without a motor but no space for the groceries and beer.
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Old 26-02-2009, 00:47   #14
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Gideon you said this:
Quote:
After extensive testing African Cats has started to produce the FastCat catamarans and the Rigid inflatables out of Basalt fiber.

The properties of basalt fiber compared with E glass , the most common used glass type are excellent. In testing we found out that the Basalt/epoxy sample's strength tested 13.7 percent higher than that of the E-glass sample and exhibited 17.5 percent greater stiffness, although the basalt sample was 3.6 percent heavier than the E-glass sample
But the background information he used said this
Quote:
In a study of basalt fibers and E-glass fibers, conducted by Professor Ignaas Verpoest at the Composites Dept. of the University of Leuven in Belgium, unidirectional prepregs were produced by impregnating E-glass and basalt roving with epoxy and winding each on a mandrel, and then compacting the laminate until complete cure was achieved. Samples of 135-mm by 15-mm (5.3-inches by 0.6-inch) were cut and measured for thickness. The pieces were then subjected to a three-point bending test (ISO 178) and the ILSS test (ISO 14130) to test strength and stiffness. Verpoest reports that each sample had a fiber volume fraction of 40 percent, but the basalt/epoxy sample's strength tested 13.7 percent higher than that of the E-glass sample and exhibited 17.5 percent greater stiffness, although the basalt sample was 3.6 percent heavier than the E-glass sample.
It sounds to me that you have not done the tests you claim and are just quoting the Professor's lab tests. Usually it is hard to reproduce lab tests on the shop floor. Have you had one of your laminators actually produce sample coupons and test them? Note that the Prof.'s tests were pre-preg uni basalt, which is probably NOT what you are using.
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Old 26-02-2009, 04:16   #15
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Halo Evan

we have had lab tests done by the University of Durban , Professor David Johnson has supervised the testing and the outcome was satisfactory , the strenght came out 14.2 % higher and a stiffness of 18 % higher compared with identical weight for e glass , the samples where made under identical conditions both vacuum infused at the same moment post cured in our Durban factory.
Besides the obvious stenght advantages there are a few other advantages
1. sound dampening ( we have made engine beds in both glass and Basalt fiber and both noise and vibration levels are lower than with identical layup of glass
2. better adhesion and infusion than with glass , carbon and kevlar.
3. not corrosive if in contact with seawater
4. No skin irritation for the people that work with the material.
5. non conductive.
6. cosmetically as attractive as carbon fiber
7. Ecologically more attractive because of natural increase of basalt rock 1 cubic km per year.
8. Resin to fiber ration under identical conditions is better.
Basalt to resin 70 % to 30 % Glass 66 % to 34 %.
9. Less pin holes after infusion.

Greetings

Gideon
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