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northbankbridgeTraditional construction materials are susceptible to weather and normal wear over time. Concrete, wood, or steel can deteriorate, impacting the integrity of the structure. While these materials may initially meet the municipal, commercial, or industrial stakeholders' performance and investment objectives, they can end up costing more over the long term due to repair and replacement. A cost-effective alternative is FRP, a lightweight, high strength, highly durable material used for buildings, equipment, infrastructure and many other products.

What Is FRP?

Fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) is an engineered material consisting of reinforcement fibers, polymer resin, and additives to achieve the desired performance properties. This combination creates an extremely strong and durable material that can be used for parts inside equipment up to large, heavily loaded civil infrastructure. The type of reinforcement fiber is chosen based on the requirements of the application. For example, carbon fiber is commonly used in airplanes and recreational equipment, while the most common reinforcement material is fiberglass given its combination of properties and cost.

How FRP Is Made

There are several manufacturing methods for producing FRP, and the chosen technique depends on factors such as order volume, aesthetic requirements, size, and desired function. Common manufacturing methods include:

Pultrusion

Pultrusion is a technique that uses a series of rollers to pull braided or woven strands of fiber into a resin bath to infuse them with polymer. The fiberglass strands are passed through a heated die which, cures the resin around the fibers to produce an FRP profile with a consistent cross-section shape ready for cutting into any length. This energy-efficient process is eco-friendly, affordable, and produces minimal waste. It is the desired method for continuous manufacturing and rapid production.

Vacuum Infusion

Vacuum infusion is often the most cost-effective option for creating large parts including boat hulls, wind turbine blades and bridges. During the process, dry fiber materials are placed into a shaped mold and covered with a sealing plastic. Once the reinforcement materials are under complete vacuum conditions, precisely positioned tubes introduce liquid polymer resin into the mold. Though more time-consuming than other methods, vacuum infusion is a more customizable process that creates a maximum fiber-to-resin ratio. and produce large, high-strength FRP panels.

Filament Winding

Filament winding is an automated process that applies resin-saturated, continuous strands of fiber reinforcements over a rotating cylindrical mold. This process creates parts that can handle high operating pressures.

Hand Layup

One of the original manufacturing methods for creating FRP is hand layup. This low-cost method is primarily reserved for low-production runs, samples, or prototypes. A skilled technician puts the reinforcing fiber into an open mold before manually applying the resin and using a roller to wet out the fibers with the resin. The material then cures naturally in the open air instead of with heat or vacuum. This process easily incorporates gel coats for cosmetic surfaces.

Why FRP?

FRPs are an ideal choice for a wide range of products, offering:

  • Lightweight material. FRP components are extremely lightweight compared to other construction materials. This makes them safer, easier to work with, and cheaper to transport. They also don't require as much equipment to install.
  • Corrosion resistance and low maintenance. FRP is extremely durable, making it suitable for heavy-duty usage in a wide range of environments. Its corrosion resistance makes FRP capable of withstanding salt, water, chemicals, and other harsh weather conditions without deterioration. This means it can last for up 100 years with very little need for maintenance or rebuilds.
  • Cost-effective. Creative Composites Group builds our high-quality FRP components to offer long-term cost savings and profitability through its many beneficial qualities. FRP often offers lower acquisition costs compared to traditional materials.
  • Flexible design. FRP is engineered to meet the exact application requirements. Factors such as size, shape, color, and functional features can be customized to ensure smooth and easy installation.
  • Shorter production and installation time. FRP is prefabricated, allowing crews to install each part much faster. This makes FRP ideal for construction projects in public areas that have tight timelines and limited construction hours.

Benefits of FRP Over Traditional Materials

FRP provides many benefits over traditional building materials such as steel, aluminum, and wood.

FRP vs. Steel

FRP is highly corrosion-resistant, whereas steel is susceptible to rust from chemicals and weather exposure. FRP is as strong as steel and weighs significantly less; for a great strength-to-weight ratio. Other benefits that FRP has over steel include:

  • Non-conductive and impact resistant
  • Easy fabrication without the need for cutting torches and welders
  • More flexibility in terms of color options and functional features

FRP vs. Aluminum

Unlike aluminum, FRP has low thermal conductivity, meaning it serves as a great insulator. It’s also corrosion-resistant, non-conductive, and won’t deform under impact.

FRP vs. Wood

Wood components are prone to warping, decay, and rot. FRP exhibits excellent resistance to corrosion, mildew, mold, and other conditions that timber cannot stand up against. FRP can also deliver extreme durability without the need for environmentally hazardous coatings.

What to Look For in an FRP Manufacturer

FRP is a material widely used in industries that often must adhere to stringent standards and requirements. To ensure your FRP manufacturer can provide a quality product that meets each application and industry's specifications, look for the following:

  • Experience. Your manufacturer should have demonstrable and verifiable experience manufacturing FRP solutions for the target application. Depending upon the project, the manufacturer may have to meet a minimum level of experience with various applications.
  • Standards & certifications. An experienced FRP manufacturer will have extensive knowledge of regulatory requirements and can demonstrate compliance with these codes. Look for certifications that ensure a high standard of quality management to ensure they will meet your project's specifications.
  • On-site availability. Though many FRP products can be delivered ready-to-use remanufactured, there are some products like equipment and infrastructure often other related needs that require specific expertise that most general contractors don't have. You'll want to ensure that your manufacturer can provide services on-site, such as installation guidance, product maintenance, modifications, or required inspections.

Creative Composites Group Ensures Your FRP Project Success

FRP is a strong, durable, lightweight, and corrosion-resistant alternative to traditional construction materials. At Creative Composites Group, we are a leader in designing and manufacturing FRP composite products. Our combined team of experts offers innovative FRP solutions designed to meet the specifications and requirements for a wide range of applications. To learn more about the benefits, products, and applications of FRP, download our FRP Products & Capabilities Brochure today.


Need more information?

Creative Composites Group provides a comprehensive range of standard and customized FRP products to meet your project needs. Looking for more information about how we can help bring your project to life? Contact our staff of expert engineers today.

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