Grainis ltd. headquartered in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, offered a unique additive technology for basalt fibers and zirconia fibers. To weld fiber surfaces to each other they use an oxy-hydrogen plasma burner of low power.
Fiber passes through a nozzle and is immediately heated by the OH gas-plasma flame of a micro-burner, attached to the nozzle. The result is fiber’s surface partial melting in part of the second. Than the semi-melted fiber is laid and welded to the fiber beneath, following the computer-designed contour. Thus, layer after layer, a massive, extremely strong and computer-precised structure of any shape can be automatically built. Thanks to the basalt raw material and the low-power OH gas price, the cost of the 3D-printed end element will be very low and competitive.
The same approach is applied to 3D printing with zirconium fiber or to the production of a hybrid basalt-zirconium material. According to the authors, produced composite materials are 3 times lighter, 5 times stronger and 20 times cheaper than those of steel and can be used to produce rebar, beams, pipes, profiles, boards, panels, elements, tiles, road pavements, railway sleepers, car/ship/machinery bodies & parts, columns/poles, ropes, fabrics, insulations, etc.
To develop the technology further, Grainis intends to raise investments of 3 million euros. According to the preliminary calculations, the project funding’s repayment will be effected in 3-4 years.
Basalt fiber is increasingly used for additive printing of composite parts. Robotic arm Atropos won JEC Innovation Award 2017. And Impossible Objects’ 3D printer received RAPID + TCT Innovation Award.
The analytical companies believe that continuous fibers, including basalt fiber, will remain the most preferred fiber types for additive printing in the period to 2022.