"basalt" tripod, I'm losing respect for Gitzo...

Started Oct 23, 2004 | Discussions thread
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Joseph S Wisniewski Forum Pro • Posts: 34,315
"basalt" tripod, I'm losing respect for Gitzo...

Just saw an item relating to Gitzo's new tripod, made of basalt.


This lead to Gitzo's marketing blurb...


To here Gitzo tell it, they've made a breakthrough in environmental friendliness, cost, and weight.

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begin quote ---

Breaking through the earth’s surface is a new generation in tripods only Mother Nature can provide. Gitzo, maker of the original carbon fiber tripods and magnesium alloy photographic heads, has developed an environmentally friendly way to advance the performance of a new line of tripods built from volcanic rock.

Gitzo is the first and only manufacturer in the world to create basalt fiber tripods. The volcanic-based basalt materials used to develop them from the ground up provide photographers advanced performance and durability at affordable prices. The new tripods are recyclable, providing stability and easy-to-use features that are environmentally safe.

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They go on to talk about how the rock is crushed, melted, and mixed with other compounds, then drawn into fibers.

Basalt is mostly Silica (Silicon Dioxide, SiO2). When you melt Silica and add chemicals, you make glass. When you draw it into fibers, you make fiberglass. Yes, plain old fiberglass, in use in fishing poles, golf clubs, boats, Corvettes, etc. for decades.

So, what's so special about Basalt fiberglass?

Well, obviously, it sounds marketable. We're "the first and only manufacturer in the world to create basalt fiber tripods".

It's black, like expensive carbon fiber. Regular fiberglass is white (technically, it's clear, but appears white, because of the width of the fibers). It's black naturally, because of all the metallic contamination in the glass (as much as 30%, an pretty much equal mixture of Aluminum, Iron, and Magnesium oxides).

And it's dirty. Basalt contains much more metallic contaminants than the typical clean sand used to make glass (I like sand from the Carolinas, but that's just personal taste). It's got a lot more metal than you need to just make black glass. So the glass workers are being subjected to a huge variety of metal fumes during the melting process. And I hate to think about what this is releasing into the atmosphere, water, and land. It's much worse than if they had started with a "clean" melt. Basalt has got so much metal that the melt will be hard to handle, and the resultant glass, rather weak, unless you separate out some of the metal.

In my opinion, to call this "environmentally friendly", "environmentally safe", or talk about it being "recyclable" is not just deceptive, it's outright criminal. And this, at a time when camera and lens companies are talking about new "environmentally friendly" glasses, and glass artists are looking for alternatives to lead, arsenic, and some of the other horrid things that have gone into art glass for the last few centuries.

Sorry, had to vent a bit. This really got an old glass guy thoroughly peeved.

A cyberstalker told me not to post anymore...
So I'm posting even more!




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