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Published On: Mon, Oct 9th, 2017

Fiberglass Products Are More Common than You Suspect

Fiberglass products have been around since World War II, and yet some people still think that it’s a highly advanced type of technology used only for a few highly specialized applications. But that’s not really true. Fiberglass products are actually all around us, even in our day to day lives.

photo/ frecompositesinc.com/

Fiberglass is also called “glass reinforced plastic,” which is a lot more descriptive. This refers to resin or hard plastic that’s reinforced with glass fiber. By 1942, it was being used for small dinghies and it soon became a worldwide industry.

Hera re some examples of common uses for fiberglass:

  1. Printed circuit boards (PCBs). Fiberglass is extensively used for the manufacture of circuit boards. That’s why it’s highly likely that you’ll find one inside the same room as you’re in. PCs, TVs, and radios all have PCBs, and so do cellphones. Without fiberglass, the electronic world would be vastly different.
  2. Window frames. Traditionally, window frames are aluminum. But fiberglass alternatives are now preferred because of the drawbacks associated with aluminum. Fiberglass window frames are not thermally conducive, unlike aluminum which conducts heat to and from the outside and inside of the house. So fiberglass window frames keep the heat out during the summer, and minimize heat loss in winter.
  3. Boats. Composites reinforced with fiberglass dominate the marine industry for good reasons. Fiberglass composites are tough, and their manufacture is easy to automate. Without fiberglass, very few people could own boats because other types of boat construction are much more expensive for volume production.
  4. Sports and leisure. Basketball backboards are famously made of fiberglass, and that’s great for viewers who can see through the board to the action. But fiberglass can be found in many leisure parks, with water slides made from fiberglass. Disneyland wouldn’t be possible without fiberglass, as the cars on the ride, the castles, and the towers are all made from the stuff.
  5. Medical equipment. This material is ideal for many types of medical applications. That’s because its finish doesn’t wear down easily, it doesn’t stain, and it offers low porosity. Instrument enclosures are often made from fiberglass, and that’s true for X-ray beds too as transparency is crucial for X-rays.
  6. Aviation. You’ll find this material in the ducting, bulkheads, and engine cowlings of airplanes. You’ll also find them in the instrument enclosures, antenna enclosures, and storage bins too. Even the ground-handling equipment in airports uses lots of fiberglass.
  7. Automotive replacement parts. While the first car to a fiberglass body was actually a 1953 Chevy Corvette, obviously it’s not the sort of material that can replaced metal for automotive production volumes. But it’s extremely popular for replacement body parts, as well as for kit and custom auto markets. The tooling costs for fiberglass parts are comparatively low.
  8. Shower stalls and bath tubs. While porcelain is still the popular choice for these items, many are now using fiberglass resin. These fiberglass units are generally less expensive. They weigh less too, and they’re very easy to install. Its finish can also be repaired, unlike porcelain.
  9. Doors. Did you know that many types of doors are now made from fiberglass-reinforced composite materials? These materials look and feel like wood that lots of people can’t tell the difference. But with fiberglass, you can enjoy a much more durable door. The material simply will never twist or warp due to moisture. It won’t corrode, and it will never rot. It’s even a great insulator.
  10. Furniture. Fiberglass is also great for furniture, as it’s beautiful, durable, UV resistant, non-porous, and lightweight. It’s also chemically inert, meaning that it won’t react with other substances it comes into contact with. It’s highly resistant to scratch and impact, and it even stretches better than heavier steel.

Without fiberglass products, the world as we know would be a lot different. Thankfully, we have this material, and now more and more commonplace items are being made with this tough material.

Author: Lolita Di

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.

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