FAQ FRP Process FRP Terms Trouble Shooting

1. What is FRP?
2. What is Fiberglass?
3. What are Plastic/Polymers?
4. What are Physical Properties?
5. How Durable is FRP?
6. How Cleanable is FRP?
7. Does FRP burn?
1. What is FRP?

FRP, fiberglass reinforced plastic, is a composite made from fiberglass reinforcement in a plastic (polymer) matrix. By reinforcing the plastic matrix, a wide variety of physical strengths and properties can be designed into the FRP composite. Additionally, the type and configuration of the reinforcement can be selected, along with the type of plastic and additives within the matrix. These variations allow an incredible range of strength and physical properties to be obtained. FRP composites can be developed specifically for the performance required versus traditional materials: wood, metal, ceramics, etc.

Engineers can design the FRP composite to provide the needed characteristics, and avoid cost penalties of an over-engineered product.

2. What is Fiberglass?

Fiberglass fibers are made from molten glass extruded at a specified diameter. The fibers are gathered into bundles and the bundles combined create a roving. Rovings are a continuous rope, similar to twine, and are wound on a mandrel to form a ball called a doff. Reinforcements for FRP are made from rovings that are either chopped into short strands or woven into a cloth.

There are many factors that affect the reinforcement characteristics of fiberglass:

Fiber and bundle diameter and type of glass
Direction of the fiberglass reinforcement
The amount of fiberglass reinforcement
The physical contact (wetout) of the fiber with the polymer
All of these factors must be taken into account when designing a FRP composite so that the required physical property strengths are met.

3. What are Plastic/Polymers?

There are two basic types of plastics/polymers: thermoplastic and thermoset. In general, FRP composites utilize a thermoset plastic.A plastic in which the polymer molecules are not crosslinked (not chemically bonded to other polymer molecules) is a thermoplastic. Since the molecules are not connected by crosslink's, it allows the molecules to spread farther apart when the plastic is heated. This is the basic characteristic of a thermoplastic; the plastic will soften, melt, or flow when heat is applied. Melting the plastic and allowing it to cool within a mould will form the finished product. Typical thermoplastics are: polyethylene (PE)– used in making garbage bags; polyvinyl chloride (PVC)– used for house siding; and polypropylene (PP)– used as carpet fibers, packaging, and diapers.

A plastic in which the polymer molecules are crosslinked (chemically bonded) with another set of molecules to form a "net like" or "ladder-like" structure is a thermoset. Once crosslinking has occurred, a thermoset plastic does not soften, melt, or flow when heated. However, if the crosslinking occurs within a mould, the shape of the mould will be formed. Typical thermoset plastics are: unsaturated polyester (UP)– used for bowling balls and boats; epoxy– used for adhesives and coatings; and polyurethanes (PURs)– used in foams and coatings.

In addition to these basic characteristics, polymers provide the FRP composite designer with a myriad of characteristics that can be selected, depending on the application. Combined with reinforcement of the polymer matrix, a vast range of characteristics are available for FRP composites.

4. What are Physical Properties?

The properties of FRP composites are measured the same way that traditional materials are measured so that comparisons can be made for evaluation. Typical measurements include:

Compressive Strength
Describes how much of a load a material can take before it is crushed or fractured

Flexural Modulus
A number associated with the flexibility or stiffness of a material. It indicates how far a material will bend when a certain load is applied to it. The lower the modulus, the more flexible the material.

Flexural Strength
Measures how much of a load a material can take before it fractures or breaks when it is in the process of being bent.

Impact Strength
There are two primary impact tests; one is called IZOD impact and the other is called Gardner impact. IZOD impact measures the energy required to fracture or break a material when it is struck on its edge. Gardner impact measures the energy required to damage or puncture a material when it is struck on its front surface.

Rockwell or Barcol Hardness
Measures the surface hardness of a material. The higher the hardness value, the more resistant a material is to scratching, abrasion, and denting.

Tensile Modulus
A number associated with pulling or stretching a material (tension) and how much it elongates when a certain load is applied to it. The lower the modulus, the more the material will elongate or stretch.

Tensile Strength
Measures how much of a load a material can take before it fractures or breaks when it is in the process of being stretched.

5. How Durable is FRP?
FRP products are extremely durable versus many traditional products. The thermosetting resin properties provide chemical, moisture, and temperature resistance, while the fiberglass reinforcement increases strength and provides good performance over a wide temperature range (the properties of thermoplastics are greatly affected by temperature).
6. How Cleanable is FRP?

FRP finishes can be either smooth or embossed. Testing has shown that either finish performs (cleans) as well as a#3 finish on stainless steel. Tests for bacteria and mould growth indicate that FRP does not support the growth of either.

An embossed finish has the added benefit of providing a more scuff resistant surface than smooth.

7. Does FRP burn?

FRP can be modified with additives to meet the code requirements of the particular application, either building construction or use in OEM equipment.

Like other organic building materials (e.g., wood), products made of FRP resins will burn. When ignited, FRP may produce dense smoke very rapidly. All smoke is toxic. Fire safety requires proper design of facilities and fire suppression systems, as well as precautions during construction and occupancy. Local codes, insurance companies and any special needs of the product user will determine the correct fire-rated interior finish and fire suppression system necessary for a specific installation.


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