Kick off meeting

Enthusiasm is the word to describe the kick-off meeting for LIFE.Inno.Pro.Wire – an all-Italian pilot project supported by the European Commission’s LIFE+ programme and stemming from the partnership among SAMP, Officine Maccaferri and RadiciGroup – which was held on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at the Officine Maccaferri headquarters in Zola Predosa (Bologna).

Among the speakers at the meeting were Ruggero Targhetta, sole administrator of EURIS European Research Investments Services, and Stefania Biasuzzi, EURIS project manager; Francesco Ferraiolo, corporate technical director of Officine Maccaferri; Claudio Colibri, corporate R&D manager of Officine Maccaferri; Cesare Clausi, Europe business manager of the RadiciGroup Plastics Business Area, and Erico Spini, marketing & application development director of the RadiciGroup Plastics Business Area; and Roberto Bazzani, sales and marketing VP of SAMP.

The target of LIFE-Inno.Pro.Wire is to design an innovative process with lower environmental impact for producing extruded steel wire to be used in making metal net protection and containment structures. The sustainability aspect of the project is the use of polyamide 6 (PA6 engineering plastics) as a viable alternative to PVC for coating the steel wire. Tests will be conducted not only on conventional PA6 but also on PA6.10 engineering plastics produced using 64% biopolymer manufactured from sebacic acid.

The traditional process for producing extruded steel wire, in which steel wire is plated with a very thick zinc coating layer and then PVC coated, is an energy hog. Hence, the idea put forth by Officine Maccaferri – world leader in the research, design and manufacture of advanced environmental civil engineering solutions – to develop a new and innovative production process in which the zinc coating process is minimised. Polyamide 6 plays a central role in this project, because, compared to PVC, it ensures better technical and environmental performance.

“We expect many benefits from this project,” stressed Claudio Colibri, corporate R&D manager of Officine Maccaferri, in his presentation, “from the development of a replicable methodology for the eco-sustainable production of steel wire coated with polymeric material using new materials and new processes, to the set-up of a demonstration production line to show the savings in materials and energy by properly documenting process yield and product performance. But that is not all. We also expect to contribute to the application of the experimental PEF methodology for the environmental evaluation of processes and products, to promote wider acceptance of the environmental factor as a parameter in public bidding for road construction and maintenance and, last but not least, to raise awareness of the advantages of embarking on an environmental sustainable path in industrial production through an effective communication strategy.”

The technical aspects of RadiciGroup’s contribution to the Life-Inno.Pro.Wire project were illustrated by Erico Spini, marketing & application development director of the RadiciGroup Plastics Business Area. “Polyamide is a viable lower environmental impact alternative to PVC as material for use in extruded steel wire coating. The excellent technical characteristics of this material has allowed us to set ambitious objectives for the LIFE-Inno.Pro.Wire challenge, such as a 20% reduction in wire coating thickness and a 30-50% increase in the service life of the final product, the metal gabion. Among the advantages of using polyamide are a reduction of about 20% in wire weight for a coating of equal thickness and improved resistance to mechanical damage during the installation and servicing of the gabions.”