Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Carving a niche for unwanted stone

EU researchers have developed novel cutting equipment for sawing discarded stone blocks into marketable products such as slabs or strips. The new sawing frame has the potential to significantly reduce stone waste in European quarries.
Carving a niche for unwanted stone
Europe is one of the world's largest producers of natural stone. However, after extraction of the stone blocks from the quarry, most have to be discarded because they do not meet the size and shape requirements for further processing.

Reducing this waste was the goal of the XSTONE project, funded by the EU. The project's aim was to design a compact high-productivity frame for sawing irregular and undersized blocks.

In the traditional stone-processing cycle, the first step is to saw the blocks into slabs, which can be further cut into strips and subsequently into tiles. The natural stone sector is strongly dominated in Europe by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Through the use of 3D computer-aided design software and virtual prototyping, the XSTONE project designed the new cutting machine's components. To verify the selected materials and the mechanical design under different working conditions, the project carried out several finite element analyses.

As shown on the project website, a full-scale physical prototype of the new compact sawing frame was realised by XSTONE. It includes a set of dynamically driven block holders that firmly hold in position any irregular and undersized stone blocks during the sawing operation.

Utilising this new equipment, the project team conducted a series of processing tests with different stone blocks to validate the procedure. Now complete, the project will provide the participating SMEs with a novel solution for processing rejected stone blocks.

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