From repairing tanks to reinforcing massive municipal structures, fiber-reinforced plastics or polymers (FRPs) have a wide variety of uses. But how are these versatile, strong materials made? The process is an interesting one that results in a very useful product.
Before FRPs can be used for tank liner repairs and other applications, it’s necessary to create the fibers. For the fibers, one common base material is carbon. The creation of carbon fibers is itself a complex process involving many steps and high temperatures. Carbon-fiber production also involves surface treatment, which makes carbon fiber more suited for use in reinforced composites.
Other types of fibers can be created from materials like glass, basalt, or aramid. These have different characteristics; for instance, carbon fibers are known for their light weight, strength, and high chemical resistance, while aramid fibers perform well in high-heat scenarios.
Depending on the industry, different materials may shine; for instance, glass is gaining popularity in the power industry. Manufacturers are working on making more use of basalt fiber, too, as it offers heat and impact resistance, among other perks.
Also key is bonding the fiber to the polymer (or plastic). Common approaches to doing so include bladder and compression molding, filament winding, extrusion, and pultrusion. To pick one approach to focus on, pultrusion is relatively common. Pultrusion involves pulling fibers “from a creel through a resin bath,” per CompositesWorld, “and then on through a heated die.” Overall, pultrusion is a cost-effective approach and creates a durable end product. Beams and girders are two examples of where pultruded materials might end up in use.
To describe another approach, filament winding involves using machines to configure the fibers. It forgoes the use of a resin bath. This approach is involved in the production of many golf clubs and fishing lines. You can learn more about filament winding and many other approaches here.
The End Product
The production of FRPs results in a powerful end result. For example, FRP products have allowed many companies to cost-effectively repair their tanks without taking those tanks out of service. FRPs have also proved useful when it comes to strengthening columns. And as companies continue to work with this material, new innovations will probably keep coming.
Harnessing the Power of FRP Tank Repairs and Applications
If you’re interested in the benefits of FRP tank repairs and other FRP applications, contact Picon FRP to learn more. We can assist with your FRP needs, including fabrication, repairs, coatings, and linings.