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Author Archives: W.S. Hampshire, Inc.

  1. What Is FRP Material?

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    Fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) is a composite material characterized by its robustness and versatility. It is an important material in numerous construction and civil engineering applications, including electrical insulation, structural components, bearing and wear applications, and metal substitutes. To see if it’s the right material for your project, learn more about the characteristics of FRP material and how it is made.

    FRP Material Characteristics

    FRP is a composite material that consists of a polymer matrix and reinforcing fibers, typically glass or carbon. This unique blend offers an effective alternative to traditional materials like wood, steel, or aluminum, which can degrade over time. FRP is renowned for its strength, lightweight nature, and corrosion resistance, making it a prime choice for many applications.

    FRP material offers an impressive array of features that cater to a wide range of industrial needs:

    • Corrosion resistance: This makes FRP perfect for harsh environmental conditions.
    • High strength-to-weight ratio: FRP is ideal for applications requiring durability without the added weight.
    • Parts consolidation and design flexibility: Because of its strength, lightness, low thermal conductivity, and other properties, FRP can replace multiple materials and fasteners in an assembly, improving design flexibility.
    • Radar transparency: Glass-fiber-reinforced plastics are transparent to radar equipment, so they are often used in enclosures or canopies to hide communications devices in buildings.
    • Fire characteristics: FRP can be engineered to meet various fire codes in building construction.
    • Non-conductivity: FRP made with glass fibers are non-conductive and often used as electrical insulation.
    • Dimensional stability: Many FRP materials can be engineered to have a zero coefficient of thermal expansion, meaning they will not expand or contract as the temperature changes.
    • Production repeatability: FRP products have good consistency across high-volume production runs.
    • Customizable appearance: The composite material can be designed to meet any aesthetic requirement.

    How Is FRP Material Made?

    FRP is made through pultrusion, which melds raw fibers and resin to forge a composite with the strength of steel but without the high weight. The pultrusion process is as follows:

    1. Material selection: First, the appropriate fibers and resin are selected. The choice depends on the application’s requirements, like strength, flexibility, corrosion resistance, and thermal insulation. Fibers could be glass, carbon, or aramid, each offering distinct properties to the composite. The resin, acting as the matrix, could be polyester, vinyl ester, or epoxy, based on the environmental resistance required and the mechanical properties desired.
    2. Mold or tool preparation: A mold or tool must be prepared. This step is crucial as it defines the FRP’s dimensions, shape, and surface finish. Molds can be made from metal, composite, or plastic, and they must be cleaned and coated to prepare for resin infusion.
    3. Layup or preform process: During this stage, the fibers are laid out or pre-formed according to the direction and orientation needed for optimal strength and performance in the final product.
    4. Infusion: The laid-out fibers are infused with resin, ensuring every fiber is thoroughly saturated. This process is critical for creating a cohesive and uniform material where the resin matrix supports the fibers, providing strength and durability.
    5. Curing: After the fibers are infused with resin, the composite needs to be cured—a process that solidifies the resin, binding the fibers into a solid mass. This step can occur at room temperature or be accelerated using heat. The curing process transforms the soft and malleable resin-fiber mixture into a rigid and sturdy material that retains its shape under physical stress.
    6. Finishing: The final stage involves applying the necessary finishes to the FRP, like trimming, drilling, painting, or coating for aesthetic purposes or additional protection. This process guarantees the FRP meets the specific requirements for its use.

    FRP From WS Hampshire

    FRP offers a unique blend of strength, versatility, and durability. Its unique characteristics make it an ideal choice for many applications, from infrastructure projects to innovative designs in the automotive industry. With over 100 years in the nonmetallic materials fabrication industry, WS Hampshire is a leading provider of FRP materials, Ryertex® and EXTREN® product lines.

    Contact us or request a quote to discover how our expertise and products can meet your specific needs.

  2. What Are Thermoset Materials?

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    Thermosets are insoluble, polymer-based materials with high-temperature melting points. Typically possessing superior strength compared to that of thermoplastics, thermoset materials undergo a chemical reaction at a certain temperature and reach a solid state upon curing. From that point on, the properties of these synthetic composites are “set,” resulting in materials that are unlikely to deform or degrade.

    Thermosets have a strong structure of interconnected molecules; upon heating, these molecules develop irreversible bonds. Should you reheat thermoset plastics, they will char or burn rather than melt or take on their original characteristics. While this prevents remolding, it lends a high degree of mechanical strength to components with thermoset construction. Learn more about these materials, their properties, and potential applications.

    Thermoset Materials

    When selecting the right thermoset composite materials for your project, there are multiple high-performance options to choose from. Common examples of thermosetting materials include the use of the following:


    • Phenolic
    • Epoxy
    • Melamine
    • Polyester
    • Polyurethane
    • Silicone


    • Paper
    • Canvas
    • Linen
    • Fiberglass
    • Aramid

    Thermoset Properties

    Thermoset materials have many advantageous properties that make them ideal for widespread applications. These properties include:

    • Superior mechanical strength. Thermosetting plastic materials typically feature enhanced mechanical properties. Their beneficial stiffness along with their high compressive and tensile strength lend these materials to applications requiring load-bearing or structural components.
    • Lasting dimensional stability. Thermosets retain a consistent size and shape after curing, keeping them dimensionally stable for use in applications necessitating precise manufacturing and engineering.
    • Resistance to high temperatures. One of the main benefits of thermoset plastics is their thermal resistance capabilities under high temperature exposure. They won’t soften or otherwise deform, which is particularly helpful for electronic and automotive applications that experience high heat.
    • Resistance to chemicals. Thermoset plastic materials often possess high chemical resistance, allowing them to withstand corrosion even when they come into direct contact with such substances.
    • Being electrically insulative. Many electrical applications use these materials to provide sufficient component insulation and protection. They help prevent arcing and keep the flow of electrical current from where it’s not intended to be. In applications like power lines and transformers, thermosets can reduce the risk of fires.

    Applications of Thermoset Materials

    Thermoset materials have a wide range of applications across diverse industries. Some common examples include the following:

    • Aerospace. Lighter air- and spacecraft perform better and use less fuel. Lightweight yet strong, thermosets are an optimal choice for manufacturing aerospace components.
    • Automotive. Brake pads, engine parts, and exterior chassis components often utilize thermoset materials because of their superior durability and ability to withstand high temperatures.
    • Construction. Adhesives, coatings, and composite reinforcements are among the different types of construction materials made with thermoset plastics. These applications benefit from the durable materials’ resistance to corrosive chemicals and heat.
    • Electronics. Electronic circuits and parts rely on thermoset materials for protection and insulation, keeping equipment consistently safe from moisture and heat buildup.
    • Healthcare. Thermoset materials are typically biocompatible, making lasting medical implants and devices that won’t react when they come into contact with the human body.
    • Sports equipment. Anything from bicycle frames to golf clubs can benefit from thermoset plastics’ good strength-to-weight ratio and wear resistance.
    • Heavy Industry. Bearings, Bushings, Structural & Wear Components. Replaces traditionally used metals like steel, brass, bronze.

    Thermoset Materials and Components From WS Hampshire

    The right thermoset material will offer high-quality fabrication solutions for your product, resisting heat, chemical corrosion, and general wear. At WS Hampshire, we specialize in the custom fabrication of Ryertex Thermosets and Timco Technical Thermoplastics for industrial applications. Our Ryertex brand of thermosets consists of multiple fiber-reinforced plastic composite options. Since their introduction in the 1930s, these materials have been particularly helpful as electrical insulators and in high-temperature, -speed, or -load applications as an alternative to metal components for resisting wear.

    Since the 1890s, WS Hampshire has combined innovative and reliable non-metallic materials, our team’s technical expertise, and a suite of comprehensive services to deliver valuable solutions and high-quality components to our customers. It’s our goal to help you reduce operational downtime and costs. Contact us today to learn more about our thermoset material options and our production capabilities for supporting your unique operation.

  3. What Are Non-Metallic Materials

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    When machining a new component, there are a number of reasons a manufacturer may choose to use non-metallic materials rather than metallic ones. These materials are lightweight, cost-effective, corrosion-resistant, and they hold up well against harsh chemicals. They are also non-conductive, making them a popular choice in the electrical and thermal insulation industries.


    Non-metallic materials are any materials, both synthetic and natural, which do not contain metal. These materials are able to retain their unique chemical properties during the machining process. There are a wide variety of non-metallic materials, including:

    As one of the more affordable and versatile non-metallics, plastics are a desirable choice for a wide range of projects. Typically, these materials are composed of plasticizers, pigments, and fillers joined together by a natural or synthetic binding agent.

    Depending on the project specifications, a manufacturer may choose between two types of plastic: thermoset and thermoplastic. Once they have been heated and shaped, thermoset binders cannot be reshaped. Thermoplastic, on the other hand, retains its plasticity, allowing manufacturers to reshape it as many times as needed.


    There are several key differences between metallic and non-metallic.


    While metallic materials are highly conductive, non-metallic materials do not conduct heat or electricity well, making them good insulators in many electrical applications.


    For projects where budget is a concern, non-metallics offer the advantage of being significantly more affordable in both the short term and long term. Plastics are more affordable than metal materials and can be produced more rapidly, making the manufacturing process quicker and more cost-effective. Non-metallic materials are more lightweight and have lower frictional properties than metallic materials, meaning they require less maintenance over time.


    While metals often require extra coatings to protect them from corrosion in harsh environments, many non-metallics can withstand exposure to harsh chemicals and extreme heat. This is particularly advantageous within the chemical processing industry.


    Non-metallic materials have the benefit of not requiring post-treatment finishes as metallic materials do. Plastics and other non-metallic materials are naturally insulating and highly corrosion resistant. In order to achieve similar levels of insulation, metallic materials must go through finishing treatments that add time and expense to the machining process. The post-treatment is shortened even further as plastics are often colored before being machined, which eliminates the need for painting.


    WS Hampshire offers a variety of non-metallic products, including sealing solutions, thermal insulation, and Ryertex components, for use in a range of applications.


    Ryertex is a line of thermoset laminate composites commonly used as an alternative to metal for applications exposed to high speeds, load, and extreme temperatures. Used in a variety of industries, including military and aerospace, the Ryertex line includes all NEMA grades with substrates such as linen, paper, cotton, and more. At WS Hampshire, we offer a variety of Ryertex fabricated parts, including bushings, bearings, and other wear parts.


    Our non-metallic sealing solutions include seals, gaskets, and valve seats made from a variety of standard and customized materials such as PTFE, PEEK, PBI, and more. Our sealing solutions come in a range of sizes and can withstand extreme environmental conditions, making them suitable for use in scientific equipment, water and oil transport systems, and more.


    Our non-metallic thermal insulation products are designed to reduce thermal conduction and protect against thermal radiation while enhancing energy efficiency and maintaining temperatures. Our thermal insulation products come in a range of materials, such as calcium silicate, mica, glastherm, and more for a variety of industries, including aerospace, automotive, and more.


    At WS Hampshire, Inc., we supply our valued customers with custom fabrication services and a wide range of non-metallic materials, including thermosets, thermoplastics, fiberglass-reinforced plastics, phenolic plastics, and LED films. The corrosion-resistance, affordability, and nonconductive properties make them the ideal solution for a wide range of applications.

    If you require assistance choosing the best material for your project, our experts are here to help. Contact us today to learn more.

  4. What Is Fiber-Reinforced Polymer?

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    What Is Fiber-Reinforced Polymer?
    Fiber-reinforced polymer is a popular composite material used in a variety of industries, including aerospace, construction, automotive, defense, and more. A polymer matrix, such as epoxy or vinyl ester, is blended with materials designed to strengthen the polymer, including basalt, carbon, or glass. Each FRP has its advantages and unique applications.


    Fiber-reinforced polymer is made of two components: the fibers and the matrices. The strengths of the composite are largely determined by the fiber—and the composite is typically named after the fiber, as well.

    • Fibers: Glass, carbon, and aramid are commonly used, depending on the purpose of the finished FRP. More rarely, you’ll find composites made with wood, paper, or basalt fibers.
    • Matrices: Epoxy and vinyl ester are the most common. Epoxy is more expensive, but it is preferred for its strength and resistance to chemicals.


    There are several types of composites, but these are three of the most common:

    • Glass Fiber Reinforced Polymer (GFRP): This is heavier than the composites made with carbon or aramid, but it’s especially impact-resistant and, in some cases, can be compared to steel.
    • Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer (CFRP): Using carbon fiber results in a composite that is water- and chemical-resistant and holds up against fatigue.
    • Aramid Fiber Reinforced Polymer (AFRP): Though sensitive to temperature and moisture, it has a high fracture energy, making it ideal for ballistic armor. Kevlar is one of the most well-known brands of AFRP.


    Fiber-reinforced polymer composites have a wide range of applications. You’ll find them as reinforcements within concrete structures, underwater piping, stairways, and anywhere you need a material that’s resistant to stress, corrosion, and impact. Aside from their inherent strength and electrical neutrality, there are other reasons why FRPs may be the ideal choice for your next project:

    • Time Saving: This includes saving time in production and installation. Precast concrete, for example, takes more than two weeks longer to produce and typically five days longer to install than a fiber-reinforced polymer. Not only do you get your project up and running more quickly with FRPs, you save the costs that would be associated with a longer production/installation period.
    • Weight: FRPs are lightweight compared to materials of similar strength and durability. That makes it less labor-intensive and easier to install while reducing the stress on the entire structure.
    • Maintenance: Because FRPs are strong, durable, and resistant to corrosion, they last longer and don’t require a lot of maintenance. Even though FRPs may be more expensive to produce and install upfront, you’re able to multiply your cost savings over time, especially when considering major projects like bridges and platforms.


    WS Hampshire offers full-line custom plastic fabrication and supply, and we’re happy to provide a variety of FRPs for your next project.

    • Extren™: Low-maintenance and cost-effective, it’s available in more than 100 shapes, including tubes, beams, rounds, squares, and rectangles, to suit your unique purposes.
    • GPO: Available in three grades, this flame-resistant electrical insulator is a thermoset polyester sheet reinforced with fiberglass and filler.
    • Grating: We offer Duradek® pultruded grating and Duragrid® molded grating; they are excellent alternatives to steel or aluminum when you need a strong, low-maintenance material in a corrosive environment.
    • Wesliner: Commonly used in laboratory fume hood liners, Wesliner has a low flame spread and is highly resistant to physical, thermal, and chemical forces.

    WS Hampshire offers high-quality, cost-effective custom solutions for industries like oil and gas, construction, heavy industry, military, food equipment, transportation, and more. Contact us to learn more about fiber-reinforced polymers and other plastic solutions.