Carbon fiber has established itself as a wonder material in vehicle construction, with its mix of low weight and high strength being prized for many of the world’s most advanced vehicles of land, sea and air. Austrian company Fipofix believes that it’s identified a material better-suited to the high seas, saying that its specially processed volcanic fiber-based composite, more commonly known as basalt fiber, offers a better performance-price ratio than carbon fiber or fiberglass and can be recycled after use. The company is in the process of testing the material in some of the world’s most extreme marine conditions.
Though basalt fiber isn’t a household term like fiberglass or carbon fiber, it’s not a new composite, either. According to a 2006 article published on CompositesWorld.com, basalt fiber was originally patented in the US in 1923. Fipofix’s claimed innovation isn’t so much in the material, then, but in the processing and application of that material. The company began as a 2009 collaboration between Austrian technology group Kapsch and Yacht Construction Consulting. The parties innovated a new way of processing brittle, touchy volcanic fibers into rugged, unidirectional fabric purpose-built for nautical use. They called the processing system “Fiber Positioning Fixation” (or Fipofix), submitted a patent application in 2011, then formed Fipofix GmbH.