A composite material is simply a material that contains a combination of two materials. These materials are often chosen to work together because they have different chemical and physical properties. When combined, the composite material has properties that each of the materials would not achieve alone. Fiberglass is composed of a woven material that has glass fibers embedded into it. The glass fibers are laid randomly and held with a binding agent. The fiberglass is then combined with a resin to form a fiberglass composite.
The benefits and properties you can get out of a fiberglass composite depend largely on the type of matrix used. This is the binding agent that is used to reinforce the fiberglass fibers. The matrix is often a thermoset resin.
The matrix can be made out of different types of resins with the glass fibers laid in continuous strands, or a strand mat where the strands are usually shorter. Each of the different methods of laying fiberglass fibers offer different benefits and properties, and can be used to optimize for strength, durability, weight, or other physical properties.
The type of matrix used can also give the composite different properties. It is the ability of fiberglass composites and glass fiber reinforced composites to be designed in different ways to offer different properties, that has led to their use in different industries.
The Popularity of Fiberglass Composites
Fiberglass composites have become popular and are now used in lots of industries, from construction to the boating industry. The reason for this popularity is that composites are very strong and can be designed and developed to meet various strength requirements while remaining light enough to be used in larger projects.
Fiberglass composites are also resistant to corrosion, heat, acids, and alkalis, meaning that they can be used in environments that other materials cannot. Additionally, fiberglass-reinforced composites can be molded in various ways into complex shapes and structures inexpensively for use in different applications.
Lastly, fiberglass composites last a lot longer than other materials and have low maintenance requirements which makes them more cost-effective than other options.
The strength, durability, lightweight nature, and cost of fiberglass composites and fiberglass-reinforced composites, has seen it used in a lot of industries. Fiberglass composites are used extensively in the automotive industry. This is because it is stronger and lighter than some alternative materials. Fiberglass is also used in construction. A common use in this area is its use as a replacement for steel in the construction of bridges. It is also used to build houses and for roofing materials due to its durability.
Other industries that use fiberglass composites extensively include marine (boats and surfboards), electronic (audio and visual equipment, circuit boards, etc.), aviation (for use in internal structures but not external structures), and leisure (playground equipment, Jacuzzis, etc.) You can see more use cases at FRE Composites.
Fiberglass is a very versatile material that has found its way into most industries. Fiberglass can be customized to suit different industries and use cases and offers several advantages over alternative materials.