Although GLARE is a composite material, its material properties and fabrication are very similar to bulk aluminum metal sheets. It has far less in common with composite structures when it comes to design, manufacture, inspection or maintenance. GLARE parts are constructed and repaired using mostly conventional metal material techniques.
Its major advantages over conventional aluminium are:
Furthermore, it is possible to "tailor" the material during design and manufacture such that the number, type and alignment of layers can suit the local stresses and shapes throughout the aircraft. This allows the production of double-curved sections, complex integrated panels or very large sheets, for example.
While a simple manufactured sheet of GLARE will be more expensive than an equivalent sheet of aluminium, considerable production savings can be made using the aforementioned optimisation. A structure properly designed for GLARE will be significantly lighter and less complex than an equivalent metal structure, will require less inspection and maintenance and enjoy a much longer lifetime-till failure, making it a cheaper, lighter and safer option overall.
The fruition of FML development marks the end of a long history of research starting in 1945 at Fokker, where earlier bonding experience at de Havilland inspired investigation into the improved properties of bonded aluminium laminates compared to monolithic aluminium.
Later, NASA interest in reinforcing metal parts with composite materials as part of the Space Shuttle programme led to the introduction of fibres to the bond layers, and the concept of Fibre Metal Laminates was born.
Further research and co-operation with Delft University, the Dutch Aerospace Laboratory NLR, Alcoa and various other companies and institutions led to the first FML, the Aramid-fibre based ARALL. This proved to have some cost, manufacturing and application problems (while it had a very high tensile strength; compression, off-axis loading and cyclic loading proved problematic).
As a footnote, GLARE is also the material used in the ECOS3 blast-resistant Unit Load Device (). This is the only commercially available container shown to completely contain the explosion and fire resulting from a bomb such as that used over Lockerbie.
Glare has also been used in manufacturing of the cargo doors of the latest models of the C-17 Globemaster III.