Strongwell's DURAGRID® Phenolic is known for its extremely high quality of manufacture, it's corrosion resistance and high temperature and fire performance.
Tell us about ASTM F3059 – what it is, how it came about, and what it changes about how the industry does.
ASTM F3059 is the “Standard Specification for Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (FRP) Gratings Used in Marine Construction and Shipbuilding.” Although the name suggests it applies only to the marine and shipbuilding industries, this specification has brought attention to the performance and quality expectations of FRP grating overall.
To explain how ASTM F3059 came about, let me share a bit of history. In the 1990s, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) issued a policy memorandum called PFM 2-98. This ushered in the basis for FRP grating to gain Type Approval for use in marine and offshore applications and was the mark everyone aimed to meet. The primary motivation behind this memo was to address fire resistance.
It also provided other Class Societies the basic framework to begin adding PFM 2-98 into their rules and regulations, but it essentially forced composite gratings to be compared to steel.
Recognizing PFM 2-98 had some shortcomings and needed an update, the USCG approached ASTM Committee F25 (Ships and Marine Technology) to initiate a new governing standard for Class Societies, manufacturers, and testing labs to create a specification for FRP gratings used on USCG-inspected vessels, offshore drilling units, and floating production platforms.
In these applications, FRP phenolic grating is commonly used in walkways in/around equipment, cargo, and on-deck areas. The result was ASTM F3059, released in 2014, providing the industry with a clear guideline as how to test, inspect, and install FRP gratings.
Why should buyers of grating, especially for offshore use, be concerned with this new standard?
Over the past two decades, there has been more data collected and experience working with composite gratings than ever before. Industry manufacturers, distributors, and end-users have begun to realize that not all gratings are designed or manufactured equally.
Under the old protocol, inferior grating products had the opportunity to pass testing due to manufacturing variations, a potential greatly reduced with the new standard.
Traditionally, phenolic grating has been compared to steel. The new standard gives all gratings the opportunity to stand on their own merits. Today’s phenolic grating has to pass increased fire and added performance tests which are more stringent than ever before.
Today’s testing protocols include: impact resistance, flexural strength, wheel loading, corrosion, and UV, just to name a few. As a whole, the industry is in a position to offer better overall value to consumers who are looking for long-term durability. Additionally other Class Societies (e.g. BV, LR, KR, and IMO) are now recognizing the new ASTM F3059 standard.
Obviously ASTM F3059 is an improvement over old standards. Why were these changes necessary?
End users had concerns about consistent sourcing, safety, and long-term durability of FRP grating, along with fire protection and performance issues. Sourcing quality phenolic gratings can be challenging within the industry, as some industry participants had incomplete understandings of PFM 2-98.
Due to the new ASTM F3059-15 standard, quality phenolic grating should comply with all safety regulations prior to and after installation. Products should also maintain consistency in mechanical and corrosion properties from one shipment or manufacturing run to another.
What products currently meet ASTM F3059-15?
As far as I know, Strongwell’s DURAGRID® Phenolic grating (38mm and 45mm) is the ONLY composite grating to meet this standard.
How does DURAGRID® Phenolic grating compare to other materials on the market?
In addition to being the only composite grating that meets the ASTM F3059-15 standard, Strongwell’s DURAGRID® Phenolic is known for its extremely high quality of manufacture, its corrosion resistance and high temperature resistance, its long history of proven performance, and the fact that it is exclusively made in the U.S.A., which is important to many customers.
Strongwell has been in the pultrusion business for over sixty years. Over time, we have built trade alliances with companies which provide value and opportunity. This gives Strongwell access to consistent sourcing of the best raw materials.
Due to our onsite R&D labs, we also verify the quality of our incoming materials and do frequent quality checks during the manufacturing process. This translates to products that remain extremely consistent from one manufacturing run to the next.
What other applications will benefit from using DURAGRID®, especially as it relates to the more stringent requirements of ASTM F3059? How?
DURAGRID® Phenolic has been one of our major product lines, and continues to be the target of innovation. I would argue that any product that meets all of the ASTM F3059-15 requirements would outperform all other composites when both fire and performance are key concerns.
In addition to fire integrity, the product yields low smoke density and toxicity, which in turn could be considered a good use for enclosed industrial locations.
In addition to grating, Strongwell also offers a phenolic handrail system, which none of our competitors currently offer. It provides the same benefits of low smoke density and toxicity, and high temperature capabilities as DURAGRID® Phenolic grating.
How will the ASTM F3059-15 standard impact the US Coast Guard standard PFM 2-98?
The USCG has made it clear to us and the industry that their intentions through PFM 2-98 were to never be the governing body or specifying agency when it came to FRP standards. They wanted to create a short-term solution for challenging conditions in the offshore marketplace.
With the release of ASTM F3059 in 2014, several classification societies have adopted the ASTM standard as the governing standard in lieu of PFM 2-98, and others are beginning to phase out the PFM 2-98 in lieu of the newer and more robust ASTM standard.
Where can our readers go to find out more?
We understand that regulations can be confusing at times. I would suggest one of two things:
- Purchase the new ASTM F3059-15 standard and become familiar with it prior to purchasing grating.
- Visit www.strongwell.com or contact us with any questions.
Jeff Finley is the Industrial Products Manager for Strongwell’s Chatfield, Minnesota manufacturing location.
Jeff has been with Strongwell since 1984 and is a well-respected industry expert in pultruded grating, fiberglass handrail and composites fabrication.
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