A fiberglass product is any utility that is composed of a glass reinforced polymer. Glass reinforced polymers are also known as glass reinforced plastic, fiberglass reinforced plastic or simply fiberglass.
In the simplest terms, fiberglass is the combination of glass fibers and plastic material. Usually fiberglass compositions involve one or more additives, and they vary in terms of their construction and physical properties. But the defining characteristics of all fiberglass products are light weight and high strength. The strength-to-weight ratio of fiberglass is the main reason for its popularity.
As a construction material, fiberglass sheets, panels and pipes are prized for their light weight, which makes them easy to transport and install, and for their high strength, which makes them suitable for use as building components like skylights, plumbing and even trim. Fiberglass can also be used as insulation in buildings, homes, stoves, refrigerators, furnaces and in many other contexts. Fiberglass products are also used in the construction of boat hulls, go-kart bodies, large storage tanks and automobile parts.
Because of the extensive variety of fiberglass products, an equally wide variety of fiberglass materials and production methods are necessary to accommodate them. Different fiberglass materials exhibit different physical qualities. Strength, durability, UV resistance, optical clarity and other qualities depend on the concentration and the way in which glass fibers are combined with thermoplastic materials.
Fiberglass reinforced plastic tensile strengths can range from around 55 MPa to as high as 2,300 MPa. During a fiberglass production operation, once the appropriate fiberglass material has been chosen, a fiberglass fabricator must choose the appropriate fabrication method as well. Many of the most widely utilized fiberglass fabrication methods involve molding, and the two main fiberglass molding processes are open and closed molding.
The main difference between the two options is the shape and type of the mold. In both cases though, a thermoplastic resin is heated beyond its melting point in order to make it more responsive to forming. It can be heated in a mold or in a preheating basin, as is the case when molding mandrels are used. Then, once the resin has taken the appropriate shape, it is sprayed with fiberglass and other additives if necessary. The molded product is then allowed to cool and harden.