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.