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Benefits and Applications of Structural Pultruded Fiberglass

In this interview, Strongwell talks to AZoM about the benefits of pultruded fiberglass in structural applications.

Can you give us a brief introduction to Strongwell and the products you supply?

Strongwell manufactures a broad range of pultruded fiber reinforced polymer (FRP, often referred to simply as “fiberglass”) structural shapes and systems.

Strongwell is the world’s largest pultrusion company and the recognized leader in the pultrusion industry.

Pultrusion is a time-tested method of manufacturing fiberglass shapes with a constant cross section. Strongwell has been pultruding structural components since 1956.

Why is fiberglass such an attractive material, as a replacement for metals for example? 

Fiberglass is an attractive replacement for metal when fiberglass is able to solve problems associated with the use of metal in a particular application. Depending on the application, fiberglass is able to provide customers with a variety of solutions. Some of the benefits fiberglass offers include:

  • corrosion resistance
  • high strength
  • light weight
  • extremely low conductivity (both electrical and thermal)
  • thermal stability
  • electro-magnetic transparency
  • virtually maintenance free
  • ease of installation

Strongwell focuses on finding applications where these benefits are able to solve customer problems.

Strongwell

Strongwell's fiber reinforced polymer materials are ideal for structural use in the harsh conditions on oil platforms.

Can you give a couple of examples of an application where the properties of fiberglass were particularly advantageous? 

Fiberglass is routinely used as a cellular screening material for the telecommunications industry.

Telecommunications companies are often required to screen their antenna from public view, but metal impedes electromagnetic and radio signals, and therefore can usually not be used.

Fiberglass is a popular option with telecommunications companies because it is lightweight, structural, and virtually invisible to radio/cellular frequency signals.

Fiberglass products have also been utilized in the offshore industry (especially oil platforms and shipbuilding) since the 1970s.

The development of pultrudable phenolic resins in the 1990’s, which offer advantages such as superior fire and smoke resistance over traditional resins, have allowed industry engineers to specify phenolic fiberglass products in a variety of critical applications, including gratings, handrails, ladders and other structures.

Is fiberglass significantly more expensive than other materials? How do the ROI’s compare?

For applications that take advantage of the benefits fiberglass products offer, there are typically cost savings versus traditional materials (wood, steel, concrete).

While the up-front cost of material alone is generally higher with fiberglass than that of traditional materials, customers that are able to factor in life-cycle costs can easily realize the sometimes dramatic cost advantages that fiberglass profiles provide.   

How does the mechanical performance of fiberglass compare to metals like steel?

It is quite complicated to directly compare the mechanical performance of fiberglass to a metal like stainless steel, since so much depends on all the available options and the application in questions.

However, when discussing strength alone, the published ultimate strength of Strongwell’s EXTREN® is 30,000 pounds per square inch (>200 MPa) - this is comparable to some types of stainless steel. Additionally, the strength of the Strongwell EXTREN® material can be increased by using different composite designs.

Fiberglass is transparent to radio waves, making it the preferred material for screening cellular towers.

Fiberglass is transparent to radio waves, making it the preferred material for screening cellular towers.

Are there any unique benefits to Strongwell’s products vs. other fiberglass suppliers?

Yes, all Strongwell pultruded products are produced in the United States, in ISO 9001-certified facilities. Strongwell has been manufacturing products since 1956 and still has many applications in use after decades of service.

Strongwell’s ability to offer quality products, produced locally, with the technical expertise to provide customer confidence is what separates Strongwell from other manufacturers.

Are there any new products, or other advancements, coming up in the near future that you can tell me about?

Strongwell is constantly developing new products and concepts. Strongwell is the clear-cut leader in research and development and offers a state-of-the-art on-site laboratory and testing facilities.

Strongwell is always looking for ways to utilize its technical expertise to drive new markets and applications.

Developing unique reinforcements, cutting edge resins and high tech processing capabilities are a few of the ways Strongwell continues to offer the most advanced products in the pultrusion industry.

About Strongwell

Strongwell Corporation is the world’s largest pultruder of fiber reinforced polymer composites. Strongwell’s FRP products were chosen as solutions in many different markets. For the mining industry, the company offers operating platforms, conveyor drip pans and platforms & walkways.

Strongwell Corporation design, manufacture, fabrication and testing of molded or pultruded fiber reinforced polymer composite products for construction, commercial and industrial applications.

Strongwell has been pultruding fiber reinforced polymer composite structural products since 1956. Today, with more than 65 pultrusion machines and 647,000 square feet of manufacturing space in three plant locations, Strongwell has unequaled capacity, versatility and flexibility to meet the needs of its customers and allied partners. All Strongwell pultruded products are made in the USA. Click here to learn how Strongwell’s pultruded products out perform traditional materials.

The company is financially strong, quality oriented, technically advanced, and customer focused. Strongwell's customers include Fortune 500 industrial and commercial firms, major architectural and engineering firms, leading contractors and distributors, and many other companies - both large and small - in a variety of markets.

Get in touch with Strongwell to discuss your application

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

Will Soutter

Written by

Will Soutter

Will has a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Durham, and a M.Sc. in Green Chemistry from the University of York. Naturally, Will is our resident Chemistry expert but, a love of science and the internet makes Will the all-rounder of the team. In his spare time Will likes to play the drums, cook and brew cider.

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