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Development of a Novel Stone Sawing Equipment to valorise Undersized and Irregular Stone Blocks for a more rationale Use of Natural Stone Quarry Resources (XStone)
Start date: Jul 1, 2010, End date: Aug 31, 2012 PROJECT  FINISHED 

In 2007 EU countries represented about 40% of global natural stone production, bringing Europe as one of world’s largest produces and exporters of natural stone. European countries like Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain, are important players while other European countries are in positively growing. The European sector consisted of 60,000 companies and employing a total of more than 500,000 workers is strongly dominated by SMEs, being more than 90% and having less than 50 employees each. In spite of its leading role on the global market, Europe has been loosing power due to non-European aggressive trading competition. As a result, employment decreased of more than 15% in the last 6 years. At extraction only 20-25% of extracted blocks are accepted, having the requirements of a standard-sized and regular shaped block to be processed into a cost-efficient product. This quantity constitutes a major environmental impact because the discarded waste blocks (75-80%) are considered unprofitable to process with the current equipment. As a result, the situation is severely affecting European landfills and most crucially its global competition. The need of new equipment is necessary to profitably process irregular and undersized stone blocks, resulting in additional yields, higher productivity, and lower waste material produced. Within the framework of reducing waste by valorising, processing, and exploiting discarded stone blocks, the project addresses the development of a compact high-productivity sawing frame specifically designed to saw irregular and undersized blocks. The system includes a novel block holding system, with dynamically driven hydraulic cylinders, developed to control the rocks stability during the cutting operation, main issue for current machines. Furthermore, a real-time control will be developed allowing the machine to adapt to any cutting conditions thanks to on-line monitoring of cutting parameters and real-time adaptation to processing conditions.
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