Fiberglass Fabrication

What is Fiberglass Custom Fabrication?

Fiberglass custom fabrication begins by taking fine glass fibers woven together and completed by bonding them with resins. This relatively simple process produces very lightweight materials that are surprisingly durable and quite flexible.

There are several processes for fiberglass custom fabrication. Two of the most widely used are chopped strand mat and filament winding.

Chopped Strand Mats Process

Molding or chopped strand mat (CSM) is one of the most popular methods of fiberglass custom fabrication. It starts with the creation of a particular glass. 

Silica sand and other minerals are heated to a molten liquid state. At this point, the molten glass is extruded through tiny orifices to form very fine filaments. After the individual threads have been coated in special chemical solution, they are gathered into a roving, which is a rope-like bundle.

Here, the roving is brought together to form a kind of woven mat, which is temporarily held together by a special binder. These flexible mats are then layered into a mold, and resin epoxies are painted over their fibrous surfaces. 

As the epoxy cures, the binder dissolves and fiberglass is formed.

The versatility of molding fiberglass allows for nearly endless applications. Automotive bodies and marine watercraft hulls are often manufactured using this method. A panel manufacturer can also use fiberglass for structural purposes.

Filament Winding Process

Another common process for fiberglass custom fabrication is filament winding. Filament winding allows for the manufacture of strong cylinders, pipes, and containers. 

Glass filaments are pulled taut and wound by machine over a mandrel, which is the cylindrical shape the finished product will assume. As these filaments are wound, a wind eye allows for specific cross patterns to be achieved, and a resin is applied as the fibers are laid.

This winding is repeated over the mandrel until the desired thickness of fiberglass is reached. After the resin has cured and the hardened fiberglass is formed, the mandrel is often removed.

For some products, however, such as storage tanks, the mandrel will remain as a protective, airtight barrier.

Products typically manufactured through the filament winding process are structural poles, aerospace fuselages, and golf clubs to name a few.

Common uses of Fabricated Fiberglass

Fiberglass custom fabrication has become quite famous for its many versatile and advantageous qualities:

·         The strength-to-weight ratio of fiberglass is exceptionally high, which makes it an excellent choice for automobile bodies; providing a rigid shell while reducing overall weight for improved fuel economy, and for reinforcing plastics.

·         Fiberglass does not warp, shrink, or expand when exposed to dramatic changes in temperature, which explains its popularity in the manufacture of outdoors products.

·         Fiberglass does not conduct electricity, which is why the material has long been used for circuit boards and electrical insulators.

·         Fiberglass does not absorb water, which makes it attractive to watercraft manufacturers.

·         Fiberglass in not flammable, which is why the material has become the standard for home insulation.

·         Fiberglass is resistant to most chemicals, which makes it an excellent choice for storage tanks and piping in many industrial environments.