In very severe scenarios, the recourse to steel wire ropes is limited by the excessive self-weight and/or the unsatisfactory structural performances.
FIRST-WIRE project aims at developing a steel-based wire for ropes and cables with improved performances and reduced weight.
This will promote the use of steel-based products in markets where composite and synthetic products are currently becoming very competitive.

The project is co-funded by the Research Fund for Coal and Steel, RFCS is a EU funding programme supporting research projects in the coal and steel sectors.

The innovation

Improved performances / reduced weight

The concept represents a breakthrough innovation, merging stainless steel elements and high strength/modulus carbon fibers reinforcements. It combines the low weight and high mechanical performance of the fibers with the good behavior of the steel in terms of corrosion resistance, wear and ductility.
The technology is proposed to be adopted in very demanding scenarios, including offshore deep-water abandoning and recovering application, lifting, mooring lines for floating platforms, structural cables for civil engineering and others.


Renewable energy

Mooring lines for off-shore floating platforms

The installation of offshore wind turbines is increasing worldwide. The current trend is focusing on the increased wind potential at deeper sea location. At the same time, the development in mooring technology is also improving in order to achieve better designs and to balance the overall rope weight with the strength properties. Innovative lightweight high performance wire ropes shall provide high axial stiffness, low bending, outstanding strength, high fatigue resistance and corrosion protection

Civil structures

Tension elements in bridge and roof structures

Steel wire ropes have a key role in structures with large dimensions and spans such as stadium roof structures, guyed masts and bridges. Thanks to their good overall structural performance, cable-stayed bridges are drawing attention in last decades leading to the construction of very large bridges all over the world. However, with the length, some issues arises such as sagging, susceptibility to resonance and fatigue life. Innovative hybrid solutions are warmly welcome as they take advantage of the excellent mechanical performance of carbon fibers joined to the high resistance against brittle fracture and corrosion of stainless steels.

Off-shore operations

Lifting, hauling, launching

Wire ropes represent a resource of key relevance for off-shore application, such as: Abandon and Recovery (A&R), drilling, hoisting, deep-sea mining and every kind of operation where lifting or anchoring is required. Currently the self-weight of conventional steel ropes limits operation to a sea depth of ~2000m, and overcoming such depth through the improvement of facilities, requires expensive investments. Recurring to innovative hybrid wire ropes will reflect in lighter hoisting structure and reduced payload of the vessel.



ASTARTE (, Italy) is a technological consulting company providing services for industrial products and processes virtualization for performance analysis, optimization and innovation. ASTARTE coordinates FIRST WIRE project.

REDAELLI TECNA SpA (, Italy), Redaelli Tecna SpA, founded in 1819, nowadays is one of the biggest high-tech steel wire rope manufacturer. Thanks to its knowledge and experience, the company is strongly present in all the markets where a high-quality steel wire rope is required i.e. on shore and off-shore lifting and mooring applications, tension structures, mining and people transportation.

KME Special Products (, Germany), is one of the leading suppliers of tube bundles with 40 years experience in the drawing and application of special steel tubes in the manufacturing of tube bundles. KME has more than 10 years experience in the manufacturing of special steel tubes based on slit steel strips and own-develop rolling and TIG welding procedures.

ROYAL IHC (, The Netherlands) is a market leader providing reliable and innovative equipment, vessels and services that enable its customers to outperform in the dredging, offshore and mining industries. Apart from dredgers and mining equipment, IHC designs and constructs highly advanced heavy-lift vessels for offshore installation and decommissioning projects.

UNIVERSITY OF PADUA (, Italy). The Department of Industrial Engineering supports the project with its deep competences in metallurgy and mechanical engineering as well as with its lab testing capabilities for mechanical, fatigue and corrosion characterization.

ROMA TRE UNIVERSITY (, Italy) will offer wide expertise in testing capabilities, as well as in FEA and guidelines drafting. the Department of Structural Engineering owns long-standing experience in the assessment of industrial plant components through experimental testing and numerical simulations and he has been PI of several European projects.

NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS, NTUA (, Greece). NTUA is present in this project by the Laboratory for Floating Structures and Mooring Systems (LFSMS), School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. The laboratory incorporates long lasting research activity in numerical/analytical methods on the hydrodynamics of floating structures, mooring systems with special emphasis on the coupled dynamic analysis of moored floating wind turbines and offshore wind parks concepts.

UNIVERSITY OF STUTTGART (, Germany). The University takes part to the project through the Institute of Mechanical Handling and Logistics (IFT). IFT department primary focuses on rope research and takes advantage of a large laboratory for full-scale rope testing. IFT also staffs its own mechanical and electric teams.


Start date: June 2020 – End of project: May 2023

WP1: State-of-the-art and planning of activities

The WP defines an updated state of the art including a critical review of documentation and experimental data about steel and fiber-reinforced steel wires as well as most acknowledged international standards for design and qualification of steel wires and ropes.

WP2: Optimization of wire design, manufacturing process and wire production.

The design of the lightweight wire to be used in the scenarios of interest is defined in terms of geometry and materials. The manufacturing process is developed and tuned to allow achieving the target design requirements

WP3: Testing of wire prototype

Characterization of the microstructural mechanical, fatigue, and corrosion resistance properties of the materials involved in the project. Testing is performed both on traditional and on innovative wire to allow comparison and will involve the steel material, the fibers as well as the wire prototype

WP4: Large-scale test on prototypes

Full-size prototypes of ropes for off-shore lifting operations, submarine mooring lines and cables for stayed bridges will be designed by using the wire produced in WP2 and in accordance to the assessed mechanical performances in WP3. The samples will be tested in accordance to the international standards and guidelines relative to their application.

WP5: Numerical modelling development, validation and sensitivity analysis

Finite Element (FE) models is developed to simulate the manufacturing process of the innovative wire. The model will provide indications about stresses and plastic strains imposed to the wire during the whole manufacturing process

WP6: Application of steel-based fiber reinforced wires to specific case studies

Aim is estimating the beneficial effects in terms of performance improvement and/or weight reduction led by the adoption of the innovative fiber-reinforced steel wires to a selection of severe applications of interest, i.e. deep off-shore scenarios, mooring lines for floating platforms and civil infrastructures.

WP7: Development of design guidelines and dissemination

Guidelines is prepared as a readily usable reference document for engineers and users dealing with structural design of running ropes, stationary cables and other components made of fiber reinforced steel wires. The document will integrate the findings of the research work to the rules and specifications provided by existing standards.

WP8: Project coordination

This WP is dedicated to monitor the scientific progress of the project and the coordination of the activities between partners to ensure the highest quality level and correct timing.


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