Fiberglass - A Material Guide | Types, Benefits, Uses


Why Fiberglass?Fiberglass is a highly versatile lightweight material that is often used as a durable and cost-effective alternative to concrete, wood, and metal. Available in a wide range of formulations, fiberglass couples the formability of plastic with the strength of glass. The unique properties of fiberglass make it useful for a wide range of industries and applications.

 

Is Fiberglass the Best Material for Your Industrial Application?

When deciding whether fiberglass material is right for your industrial application, it is important to know what fiberglass is made of, its fundamental material properties, the different types, how it compares to other materials, and its common uses.

Fiberglass Material 101

What is fiberglass made of? Fiberglass is a combination of resin and glass fibers which creates a fiber reinforced plastic.

How is fiberglass made? Fiberglass is made by adding resin to the glass fibers. Different resins can then be added to make the product stronger, tougher, and less brittle. Fiberglass can easily be molded into a variety of shapes and is incorporated into many industrial products due to its malleability and durability, including everything from equipment shelters to ducts to airplanes.

 

Choosing Fiberglass Over Other Materials

Fiberglass offers numerous advantages over more traditional steel, wood, concrete, and other materials for a wide range of industries. With exceptional versatility, this lightweight material can easily be incorporated into virtually any application. Qualities that make fiberglass superior to other materials include:

  • Mechanical strength
  • Electrical insulation
  • Thermal resistance
  • Fire retardant properties
  • Dimensional stability
  • Compatibility
  • Microbe and pest resistance

 

Main Benefits

Durability

Unlike many competitive materials, fiberglass won’t corrode, degrade, or rust in harsh or wet environmental conditions. Similar performance from metal would require an exotic or expensive material, potentially with additional coatings.

At Virtual Polymer Compounds (VPC), we have specific resins available to impart targeted properties into your fiberglass solution. We can improve resistances to various chemical environments, heat, and more. Because of its durability, fiberglass material requires little or no maintenance over its lifetime.

 

Customizability

Fiberglass is a lightweight material with a high strength-to-weight ratio, making it ideal for reducing weight in industrial products like fans, aircrafts, or enclosures, aircraft, and a variety of other machinery and equipment where total weight is a factor. Fiberglass easily molds into a wide variety of shapes, which makes it highly customizable and well-suited to creating unique components. This capability virtually eliminates the need for any secondary finishing or processing.

VPC can fully customize any standard product within our catalog or assist you in developing a wholly unique fiberglass design to meet your needs.

 

Acoustics

When using engine or equipment housings made of fiberglass, the sound absorption properties of fiberglass help to significantly reduce the decibel level of the machinery. Incorporating fiberglass housings and casings into equipment reduces the risk of long-term hearing damage and other risks to equipment operators and bystanders.

 

Aesthetics

The color options for fiberglass are near limitless. The color is incorporated into the fiberglass during the manufacturing process, which means that the color will not fade or chip over time.

 

Cost-Effectiveness

As a durable and long-lasting material, fiberglass housings and components gain economies of scale. With virtually no maintenance needs and long service life, fiberglass helps to eliminate waste and defray its initial cost over time.

 

Industrial Uses of Fiberglass

Industrial fiberglass offers excellent thermal and electrical insulation, flame & corrosion resistance, and lightweight strength for safer, more efficient operations in the following industries:

Water & Wastewater. Fiberglass is safe and highly resistant to harsh conditions in water facilities, including water treatment chemicals such as lime-soda, chlorine, coagulants, flocculants, precipitants, and defoamers. In addition, fiberglass can withstand the thermal and chemical processes used for disinfection, clarification, demulsification, demineralization, odor control, and precipitation. VPC offers fiberglass troughs, weir plates, and scum baffles in a wide range lengths, sizes, and configurations to suit various water control needs.


Marine. Watercraft, docks, marinas, and other marine facilities are regularly exposed to highly corrosive seawater. Fiberglass is highly resistant to the corrosive effects of seawater, making it the ideal option for exterior panels, supports, and other marine components.


Chemical. Fiberglass is a great material option for holding tanks, containers, and covers that contain corrosive chemicals. It is also used for ductwork, fans, and louvers in chemical facilities to provide a corrosion resistant solution for airflow.


Manufacturing. Fiberglass is used for ladders, platforms, and railings in various manufacturing facilities to prevent injuries in areas where oil, hydraulic fluid, and other process fluids pose a slip risk.


Construction. The flame resistance and exceptional strength-to-weight ratio make fiberglass the construction material of choice for a variety of components in commercial, residential, and industrial facilities.


HVAC and Air Handling. Cooling towers, ventilation ducts, fans, louvers, and other HVAC components are often constructed from fiberglass for enhanced durability and corrosion resistance.


Oil and Gas. Fiberglass in-ground vaults and enclosures are used to protect and provide easy access to gas utilities. Fiberglass catch basins are also often used in oil and gas sites to provide a corrosion-resistant drainage solution.


Telecommunications and Power. The thermal and electrical resistance of fiberglass makes it the perfect insulator for telecommunication equipment and power distribution arrays. At VPC, we offer fiberglass RF shielding shelters to protect important telecommunications equipment from harmful interference and the elements.


Food and Beverage. Fiberglass containers and tanks offer a food-safe solution for containing and controlling the odors of various food products. Since food and beverage facilities work with numerous liquids, such as oils, juices, and more, fiberglass can also be used for non-slip platforms, ladders, and gratings to prevent injury.


Pulp and Paper. VPC offers fiberglass in-ground vaults, catch basins, HVAC components, flumes, and more for use in pulp and paper facilities. These products are capable of withstanding the corrosive chemicals used throughout paper processing operations.


Mining. Fiberglass equipment enclosures, catch basins, flumes, walkways, and more are resistant to chemicals and electricity. This is important in protecting equipment and personnel from stray electrical current during mining operations.


Energy Production. Its non-conductive properties make fiberglass especially useful in the energy industry, where high voltage operations such as scrubbers and tank farms require safe non-conductive walkways, equipment enclosures, and other equipment.


Medical. Lightweight, strong, and smooth fiberglass is easy to mold into complex easy-to-clean covers for medical equipment.


Custom Fiberglass Solutions from VPC

VPC offers fully customizable fiberglass solutions to help our customers meet the exact needs of their design. We provide customization options well beyond the scope of our competitors, allowing customization of any of our existing products. We’re small enough to give every customer personal attention but big enough to offer the benefits of a larger provider.

 

Contact Our Experts Today!

At VPC, we pride ourselves on providing superior quality fiberglass products for our customers in every industry. As a leading fiberglass manufacturer, we have the knowledge, equipment, and experience necessary to produce durable, long-lasting components that will enhance the safety and efficiency of your operations. We are pleased to offer a variety of custom fiberglass solutions for everything from municipal water treatment to chemical manufacturing and energy production. In addition, we offer comprehensive fiberglass repair and restoration services.

To learn more about our custom fiberglass capabilities, contact us today or request a quote.