Fiberglass fabricators manufacture shapes, products and materials that are composed of glass threads used as reinforcement agents. Fiberglass is made when molten glass is extruded through ultra-fine openings under high pressure and heat. This creates glass threads that are chopped, woven into a mat or spun to make wool. Fiberglass has a high strength-to-weight ratio and is scratch, chemical and temperature resistant.
Fiberglass fabricators use limestone, silica, strand feldspar and borax to make standard fiberglass, often mixing these with vinyl, polyester, epoxy or Furan, which are thermoplastic resins. This forms a fiberglass composite, sometimes referred to as fiberglass, but officially called fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP). Fiberglass is a popular alternative to many materials because of its high strength to weight ratio, making it easier to transport, install and handle.
There are seven main types of fiberglass used today. These include E-glass, the most common and used for fiberglass reinforced plastics, A-glass, which has little boron oxide, E-CR-glass, which has a high acid resistance, C-glass, used for glass staple fibers, D-glass, which has a high dielectric constant, R-glass, which has high mechanical properties and S-glass, which has a high tensile strength.
The manufacturing process begins with the glass threads. They are either manufactured into fibers or wool. To make wool out of fiberglass, after the molten glass is pushed through a rapidly spinning container with little holes, a hot gust of air or gas converts the threads into fibers. The fibers are interlaced with each other, resulting in a mound of fleecy material.
Fiberglass reinforced plastics are manufactured one of three different ways, depending on the shape of the product being formed. Molds, often called mandrels, in the form of the desired product shape are used during this process. Heat and pressure help form layers of the composite materials to the mold. The fiberglass reinforcement layer is composed of either chopped strand mats or woven glass fibers. The resin material is either sprayed or rolled onto the mold. For shapes that are round, like tanks and pipes, a centrifugal molding method is used.
Open molding uses a single mold. The first layer, a gel coat, is applied and let dry. Next, the fiberglass material is rolled on as well as the spray-on resin material. Closed molding is similar to open molding but uses a mold consisting of two different, separate parts. The gel and fiberglass layers are applied to one mold, and the other mold is then pressed against it. Next, the resin is injected in molten form. This method is used for parts like panels and corrugated sheets that are smooth on both sides.
Fiberglass Fabricators Informational Video