What is Fibreglass or Fiberglass?
Fibreglass or Fiberglass is a type of fibre-reinforced plastic made from glass fibre. For this reason, Fibreglass is also known as glass-reinforced plastic or glass fibre reinforced plastic. Typically, glass fibre is flattened into a sheet, arranged randomly, or weaved into fabric. Glass fibres can be made from various types of glass, depending on their intended application.
The fibreglass or glass fibre is a reinforced plastic material which is composed of a woven material that is embedded with glass fibres which are randomly laid across each other and held together with a binding substance. Fibreglass is combined with resin to form an extremely strong and durable composite. Fibreglass can be supplied flattened into a sheet called a strand mat, or woven into a fabric.
Fibreglass is extremely strong, lightweight, and flexible. Fibreglass can be moulded into many complex shapes, making it an excellent construction material. Fibreglass is widely used in bathtubs, boats, aircraft, roofs, and other applications.
This article aims to explain the types of Fiberglass and their properties and uses.
Fibreglass, also known as glass reinforced plastic or GRP, can be sold as a raw material or used in manufacturing to produce moulded products which are subjected to pultrusion or hot press manufacturing.
Forms of Fibreglass
Fibreglass comes in different forms.
Fibreglass can be classified according to the raw materials and their proportions used to make it into the following major types:
A-glass is also known as alkali glass and is resistant to chemicals. The composition of A-glass fibre is like that of window glass. It is used as a component for processing equipment in some countries.
C-glass: Also known as chemical glass, C-glass has excellent chemical resistance.
AE-glass: Alkali-resistant glass.
S glass: This type of glass is known for its mechanical properties and is also known as structural glass.
Forms for Fibreglass Application
Fibreglass is available in many forms, depending on the application, including:
Fibreglass Tape: Thermoelastic fibreglass tapes are composed of glass fibre yarns and provide thermal insulation. This type of Fiberglass can be found in many applications like wrapping vessels and hot pipelines.
Fibreglass Cloth is smooth and is available in various varieties like glass fibre yarns or glass filament yarns. It has many applications, including heat shields and fire curtains.
Fibreglass Rope: Glass fibre yarns are twisted together to form ropes used for packing.
Fibreglass has Several Characteristic Properties
Physical Strength: Fiberglass has a greater strength-to-weight ratio than steel. This makes it ideal for producing high-performance materials.
Electrical properties: Fibreglass is an excellent electrical insulator even at low thicknesses.
Non-combustible; Fibreglass has the advantage of being naturally non-combustible because it is a mineral material. Flame cannot spread or be sustained by it. Fibreglass does not burn, smoke, or emit toxic compounds when heated.
Fibreglass is not affected by changes in temperature and humidity. As a result, its coefficient of linear expansion is low.
Organic compatibility: Fiberglass can have various sizes and can be combined with a wide range of synthetic resins and mineral matrices like cement.
Durable: Fibreglass is resistant to decay and is unaffected by pests and rodents.
Thermal conductivity: Fibreglass has a low thermal conductivity that makes it ideal for use in construction.
Dielectric permeability: Fibreglass is suitable for electromagnetic windows due to its insulating properties.
Various Applications for Fibreglass
Thermoplastic materials provide effective thermal barriers for industrial gaskets. Fibreglass provides excellent insulation, protects machinery, conserves energy, and keeps workers safe. This may explain why Fiberglass is widely used in the following industries:
Construction: Fibreglass is used in house building as well as flat roofing.
Transportation: Fibreglass is extensively used in transportation. Fibreglass components can be found on almost every make and model of vehicle, including body parts & panels
Aerospace & Defence: A wide range of products, including test equipment, ducting, enclosures, and more, are made from Fibreglass.
Beverage industry: Fiberglass is used in bottling lines and brewing houses.
Chemical industry: In this industry, fibreglass grating, mixed with resin, is used as an anti-slip safety feature.
Marine Industry: Fibreglass is used as a protective material in docks and marinas to prevent salty seawater from causing damage, such as rust and corrosion. In addition, Fibreglass is widely used in the manufacturing and repair of boats as well as surfboards.
Food processing: Fibreglass is used for slip resistance and prevents machine corrosion from blood in food processing plants.
Aquaria & Ponds: Aquariums and water fountains use glass to support rocks to improve circulation and filtration and protect spray headers and lights from damage. Many garden ponds are also constructed from fibreglass due to its water resistance.
Manufacturing: Fibreglass grates have grit embedded in their surfaces to prevent slippage in wet or areas soaked in hydraulic fluid or oil. It is extensively used in moulding.
Power Generation: Fiberglass is used a lot in power generation plants due to its non-conductive properties.
Leisure: Fibreglass is used in the construction of playground equipment e.g. slides and is often used for lining swimming pools.
Fibreglass is a lightweight material that is used in a number of applications and industries. It is less costly than carbon fibre composites and is flexible to allow its use in a vast number of industries. It is a strong material and is resistant to corrosion & UV damage.
Fibreglass is applied using the following processes in manufacturing:
Hand-lay up – this is the process whereby sheets of fibreglass and resin are applied by hand to a reusable mould using a hardener. The mould is sprayed with a lubricant which prevents the glass from sticking to the reusable mould. The fibreglass mat is layered on until the right depth is reached. The product is then allowed to solidify to ensure it maintains its strength. Glass tape can also be used to reinforce the edges of a mould during the hand lay-up process.
Spray Operation – this process is where resin and fibreglass are sprayed onto a mould in a similar way of hand lay-up. The fibreglass and resin are then pressed with rollers to compact the material, this is usually done by workers. The mould is then allowed to cure and removed from the reusable moulds.
Compression Moulding – this is where sheet moulding compound, made from long strands of fibreglass sheeting on a bed of polyester or epoxy resin, is placed onto a heated mould in a machine which is then closed. A top force is then applied downwards onto the compounds which wraps it around the heated moulds. This process is usually used in high volume manufacturing for cold water storage tanks, low-cost structures, electrical applications like meter boxes and in the automotive and transit industries.
Where to buy Fibreglass Products?
FibreGlassDirect is a leading supplier of fibreglass products and materials in the UK. We have been in the fibreglass business for over 60 years.
We specialise in the following ranges;
- Fibreglass Roofing
- Polyester Resins
- GRP Pond Kits
- Fibreglass Boat Materials
- Topcoats and Gelcoat Kits
FibreGlassDirect has something for all of your fibreglass needs! Furthermore, we offer fast, nationwide delivery throughout the UK and Ireland.