Fiberglass – Types, Properties, and Applications Across Industries
A fiberglass is a form of fiber-reinforced plastic where glass fiber is the reinforced plastic. This is the reason perhaps why fiberglass is also known as glass reinforced plastic or glass fiber reinforced plastic. The glass fiber is usually flattened into a sheet, randomly arranged or woven into a fabric. According to the use of the fiberglass, the glass fibers can be made of different types of glass.
Fiberglass is lightweight, strong and less brittle. The best part of fiberglass is its ability to get molded into various complex shapes. This pretty much explains why fiberglass is widely used in bathtubs, boats, aircraft, roofing, and other applications.
In this article, we’ll talk more about the types of fiberglass, along with their properties and applications. Let’s get started.
Types and forms of fiberglass:
Depending on the raw materials used and their proportions to make fiberglass, fiberglass can be classified into following major types:
A-glass: A glass is also called as alkali glass and is resistant to chemicals. Due to the composition of A glass fiber, it is close to window glass. In some parts of the world, it is used to make process equipment.
C-glass: C-glass offers very good resistance to chemical impact and is also called as chemical glass.
E-glass: It is also called as electrical glass and is a very good insulator of electricity.
AE-glass: This is alkali resistant glass.
S glass: It is also called as structural glass and is known for its mechanical properties.
Fiberglass comes in various forms to suite various applications, the major ones being:
Fiberglass Tape: Fiberglass tapes are made up of glass fiber yarns and are known for their thermal insulation properties. This form of fiberglass finds wide applications in wrapping vessels, hot pipelines, and the likes.
Fiberglass Cloth: Fiberglass cloth is smooth and is available in various variants like glass fiber yarns and glass filament yarns. It is widely used as heat shields, in fire curtains and others.
Fiberglass Rope: Ropes are braided from glass fiber yarns and are used for packing purposes.
Properties of fiberglass
Mechanical strength: Fiberglass has a specific resistance greater than steel. So, it is used to make high-performance
Electrical characteristics: Fiberglass is a good electrical insulator even at low thickness.
Incombustibility: Since fiberglass is a mineral material, it is naturally incombustible. It does not propagate or support a flame. It does not emit smoke or toxic products when exposed to heat.
Dimensional stability: Fiberglass is not sensitive to variations in temperature and hygrometry. It has a low coefficient of linear expansion.
Compatibility with organic matrices: Fiberglass can have varying sizes and has the ability to combine with many synthetic resins and certain mineral matrices like cement.
Non-rotting: Fiberglass does not rot and remains unaffected by the action of rodents and insects.
Thermal conductivity: Fiberglass has low thermal conductivity making it highly useful in the building industry.
Dielectric permeability: This property of fiberglass makes it suitable for electromagnetic windows.
Applications of Fiberglass in various Industries
Materials with high-temperature insulation provide an effective thermal barrier for industrial gaskets. Since fiberglass is durable, safe and offers high thermal insulation, fiberglass is one of the widely preferred materials in industrial gaskets. They not only provide a better insulation but also help in protecting the machinery, conserving the energy and ensure the safety of the professional workforce. This is the reason perhaps why fiberglass is widely used in industries given below:
Beverage industry: Fiberglass grating is used in many areas like bottling lines and in brew houses.
Car washes: Recently, fiberglass grating is greatly used for rust resistance and to give a contrast color to areas that previously looked forbidden. It brightens the inside of the carwash tunnel making the car look cleaner than it was.
Chemical industry: In this industry, the fiberglass grating is used for anti-slip safety feature of the embedded grit surface and the chemically resistant feature of different resin compounds. The chemicals being used are matched with the resins.
Cooling towers: Since cooling towers are always wet, they have to be protected from rust, corrosion, and other safety issues. Due to the excellent properties of fiberglass, it is used in these towers as screening to keep people and animals away from the danger zones.
Docks and marinas: The docks get corroded, rusted and damaged by the salty sea water. So, fiberglass is used here for protection.
Food processing: In the chicken and beef processing plants, fiberglass grating is used for slip resistance and for holding up to blood which is corrosive. Most of the areas of food processing also use fiberglass as other grating materials are not suitable.
Fountains and aquariums: All sizes of fountains and aquariums use fiberglass to support rocks to help in circulation and filtering from under the rocks. In large public fountains, fiberglass grating is used to protect spray headers and lights from getting damaged. This also keeps people from drowning in the fountains.
Manufacturing: The embedded grit surface of fiberglass grating ensures slip resistance in the areas that are wet or in places where hydraulic fluids or oils are present.
Metals and mining: Fiberglass grating is used in electronic refining areas prone to chemical corrosion. Other grating materials cannot be used here.
Power generation: Many areas of the power generation industry like tank farms, scrubbers, and others use fiberglass. The reason for this is the non-conductive property of fiberglass.
Plating plants: This application uses fiberglass grating due to the anti-slip property of the surface.
Pulp and paper industry: The property of fiberglass which makes it chemical corrosion resistant is useful in pulp and bleach mills. Recently, fiberglass is used in many areas due to its corrosion resistance and anti-slip properties.
Automotive industry: Fiberglass is extensively used in automobile industry. Almost every car has fiberglass components and body kits.
Aerospace Defense: Fiberglass is used to manufacture parts for both military and civilian aerospace industry including test equipment, ducting, enclosures, and others.
Things your should know about carbon fiber CNC routing
I always understood the benefits of CNC routing, but it wasn’t until I spent hours cutting, grinding and sanding pieces of carbon fiber, that I realized how useful this tool really was. Today, CNC routing is a part of the daily workflow at STEVS. Here are 6 things that are important to know about carbon fiber CNC routing.
1. Carbon fiber is the stiffest and lightest material available for 2D parts
If you’re designing a part where performance is critical, carbon fiber should be your first choice. Compared to steel or aluminum of the same dimensions, carbon fiber is both stronger and lighter. It’s also extremely stiff. Where metals and plastics exhibit a high degree of bending deformation, carbon fiber will deflect much less, and will have virtually zero plastic deformation. Carbon fiber is more thermally stable than other materials and is resistant to corrosion – meaning it wont rust or oxidize like steel or aluminum. And it’s these properties that make carbon fiber so enticing. From radio-controlled vehicles to cars and drones, carbon fiber is readily used to make parts stronger, lighter and look cooler – It just makes your part better.
2. CNC 2-Dimensional Carbon fiber means no tooling costs
The benefit of designing with CNC carbon fiber shapes is that there are no tooling costs. Even complex 3D structures can be designed using only 2D shapes. These shapes can easily be bonded together using epoxy adhesives, whereas metals need to be welded together which can get costly and time consuming. In the right scenarios this can save time and money associated with moulded carbon fiber components. There are thousands of ways to design with 2D carbon fiber, to get some inspiration, have a look at our products to see how we use CNC routing.
3. Carbon fiber looks better. Get that signature weave
One of the most obvious characteristics of carbon fiber is that ‘holographic’ look. This look is a result of complex weaves of strands containing thousands of tiny filaments of carbon fiber. The filaments reflect light. And because of the complex weave patterns, certain strands catch the light and look shiny, while others look dark. If your project does not necessarily benefit from the performance aspect of carbon fiber, it will surely benefit from the aesthetics. STEVS offers a line of premium carbon fiber sheets in different surface weave types, so you can customize your project and create a unique look. Choose from gloss or satin finishes.
4. Its beauty is more than skin deep
Carbon fiber is a composite. A composite is a material that’s made up of one or more raw materials. In the case of carbon fiber, it’s made up of two parts: The carbon fiber fabric and the resin – which is a liquid. The liquid and the fabric, once cured, create a solid composite. You can choose different thicknesses for your CNC carbon fiber parts. The thickness is determined by the ‘layup schedule’, which outlines the number of layers used, specification of the material and the orientation. More layers mean a thicker and stiffer sheet. There is, however, another way to achieve a stiffer part. Since carbon fiber is a fabric that’s woven together, different weaves can be created.
Different weave types have different properties, which depends on the pattern, the shape and direction of the strands and the number of filaments in each strand. This directly affects the stiffness and bending properties of the fabric. Choosing a certain weave-type can result in different stiffness properties along a specific axis. This is further expanded upon, by the orientation of which the fabric is laid down in relation to the origin. To summarize, you can customize the stiffness of a 2D carbon fiber sheet to best meet your application guidelines.
What is Pultrusion?
Pultrusion converts reinforced fibers and liquid resin into a fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) via a pulling method. The fibers are saturated by being pulled through a resin bath, then shaped, pulled through a heated steel die, and shaped again.
Once hardened, it is cut and urethane pull blocks are used to prevent the finished product from being cracked or deformed.
Over the next decade, the demand for pultruded products is projected to grow to be one of most promising segments of the composites industry.
Pultrusion is now the preferred form of manufacture of composite parts for thousands of products in key application markets such as infrastructure, telecommunication, oil gas, as well as utilities.
Pultruded products can be applied across a variety of industry verticals as they offer a wide variety of advantages when compared to traditional products like steel, aluminium and wood.
The stability and thermal performance of pultruded applications make a great alternative to wood, PVC, steel and aluminium.
For example, FRPs are used by designers, builders and homeowners for a variety of products such as energy-efficient windows, thermal breaks, for oil and gas tubes, and sports equipment.
Pultruded products last longer when compared to the corrosion levels of metals used for bridges as they are resistant to weather-induced decay.
Additionally, they can also be used in sucker rods in the oil industry, as they are lightweight and lower installation and energy costs. They can also used in spar cap structures for wind turbine blades, due to its lightweight and weather-resistance nature.
Combined with low maintenance, high tolerance, durability and strength, pultruded products can help businesses minimize expenses and callbacks.
Advantage: Pultruded Products
Lightweight- Items that are made via pultrusion are 80% lighter than steel and approximately 30% of the weight of aluminium. This makes such products easier to transport and install, ultimately helping to lower costs.
High-strength- When compared on a kilogram for kilogram basis, glass fiber composites have higher strength than metals. Pultruded products are the strongest on the axis (lengthwise) direction. The orientation and format can be varied to optimize the required strength of the final product and give extra strength to highly stressed areas.
Corrosion resistant- Glass fiber composites are naturally impervious to moisture and other chemical elements that other materials are susceptible to. This means pultruded products will not rot or rust, requiring minimal maintenance. Composites are the perfect material for anything that is exposed to the elements, especially in coastal areas with airborne and waterborne salt and moisture.
Durable- Composites are durable and have a long life span, which means they need to be replaced less often than conventional materials. Pultrusion composites last longer than wood, and are also lighter.
Fire-Safety- Fire-resistance additives can be added to pultruded composites, making them saver and compliant with fire safety regulations.
Thermal insulation - Composites have a lower thermal conductivity, especially compared to metals, making them a great alternative for structures that need to minimize energy loss.
Electrical insulation- Pultruded materials are also non-conductive and good for current carrying applications, such as utility poles.
Sustainable - Composites are recyclable at the end of their life, which make them a sustainable option for companies looking to go green. They are also long-lasting and good for insulation, making them a great choice for energy-efficient buildings.