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.
Components of Composite Materials
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.
Types of Fiber-Reinforced Polymer
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.
Three Reason Why FRPs Are Great for Your Project
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.
Want to Know More About Our Fiber Reinforced Polymers?
W.S. 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.
W.S. 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.