In the process of fiberglass fabrication, thin glass fibers are combined using various types of resins to create a product that is lightweight yet durable. Fiberglass is a popular material to use for reinforcing plastics, and insulating appliances and buildings. Fiberglass is used in applications where strong, lightweight, and scratch-resistant materials are needed.
In the creation of fiberglass-reinforced plastic products, fiberglass molding is the most frequently used process. Fiberglass is made when molten glass is extruded through very fine openings in a tool. This extrusion process produces threadlike formations in the glass that are later put through heat treatment or pressing and mixed with plastic resin.
Fiberglass molding is used to fabricate a multitude of products such as machinery support products, electric circuit boards, shells of racing cars, and panels. This process is used extensively because fiberglass does not shrink or expand with changes in temperature. Furthermore, it does not absorb water, is resistant to chemicals, has high strength-to-weight ratio, is not flammable, and can function as an insulator from electricity. Read More…
Fiberglass fabricators produce fiberglass products of various types. One example, corrugated fiberglass, is frequently used in building construction, as it is a strong product made from two layers of fiberglass sheets or panels. Other prominent examples of fiberglass products include fiberglass enclosures such as fiberglass pipes, fiberglass rods fiberglass boxes, and fiberglass tanks.
Fiberglass materials and products can be made from numerous combinations of types of fiberglass and resins. The variety of materials available enables manufacturers to fabricate products of various strengths and aesthetics for many applications. There are seven main types of fiberglass. The first, E-glass, is the most common variety.
The second, A-glass, consists of a low concentration of boron oxide. The third, E-CR glass, is highly resistant to acid. The fourth, C-glass, is often used for glass staple fibers. The fifth, D-glass, possesses a high dielectric constant. The sixth, R-glass, has a reputation for its mechanical properties. Finally, the seventh type, S-glass, has a high tensile strength. Each of these types of fiberglass can be mixed with thermosetting resins.
Resins are used for casting, laminating, and molding, and are made from polyester or epoxy. Polyester resins are widely used because of their high resistance to corrosion and inexpensive cost. Epoxy resin is a more high-performance material, and is thus more expensive. Epoxy resins are used in applications where strength and weight resistance is crucial.
Fiberglass fabrication can be classified into three methods: open molding, closed molding, and centrifugal molding. In the process of open molding, a gel coating is applied and then cured in a structure or mold. The fiberglass and resin are left to cure after being layered into the mold. Out of the three processes The open molding process releases the most emissions.
In the closed molding process, the gel coating is applied to a two-part mold. The next step involves spraying or placing laminated sheets or chopped fibers into the female part of the mold, on top of the gel coating. The part is then sealed inside the mold by a vacuum, injected with catalyzed resin, and left to cure.
The third type of process, centrifugal molding, involves applying the gel coating while the cylindrical mold spins. In fabricating cylindrical products such as tanks or pipes, centrifugal molding is an recommended process. A step that all three processes have in common is the final trimming and demolding of the product.
Today, the most widely used fiberglass product is corrugated fiberglass. Corrugated fiberglass is typically composed of two layers of fiberglass glued together. The inner layers consist solely of fiberglass, while the surface of the outer layer is made of resin, making it tough and weather-resistant.
Corrugated fiberglass comes in a solid color, often green, and it is strong and transparent. These properties make it a suitable material for building construction, and is used for sheds and greenhouses.
Fiberglass has many advantages over other materials, even aluminum, which is mainly used as an alternative. Pultruded fiberglass shapes have a much higher resistance to multiple chemicals than its aluminum extruded counterparts. Fiberglass shapes are just as dense as aluminum shapes, but only possess 70% of the weight.
Aluminum is an electric conductor, but pultruded fiberglass has a high dielectric capability and is non-conductive. Additionally, while aluminum is more thermal-conductive, fiberglass serves as a more efficient insulator. Fiberglass can be much more easily pigmented, while the pigmentation process for aluminum requires prefinishing, and anotic paint and coatings.
Fiberglass is used to support and enclose antennae due to their ability to resist EMI/RFI transmissions and radio waves. Aluminum, on the other hand, is highly reflective, and would not be suitable for these applications. Pultruded fiberglass shapes can be fabricated with common tools, with no welding or torches required.
Finally, while aluminum is prone to deformation from the load of an impact, pultruded fiberglass is capable of evenly distributing the weight. Due to all of these advantages, fiberglass-reinforced plastic is a highly sought after material for a wide range of industries, applications, and products.