Traditional 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.
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.
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 is a technique that uses a series of rollers to pull strands or mats 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 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 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.
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.
FRPs are an ideal choice for a wide range of products, offering:
FRP provides many benefits over traditional building materials such as steel, aluminum, and wood.
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:
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.
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.
FRP panels are less than 15% the weight of concrete. There is no spalling, cracking or damage from moisture, salt or chemical.
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:
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.