fiberglass

fiberglass

[fahy-ber-glas, -glahs]
fiberglass, thread made from glass. It is made by forcing molten glass through a kind of sieve, thereby spinning it into threads. Fiberglass is strong, durable, and impervious to many caustics and to extreme temperatures. For those qualities, fabrics woven from the glass threads are widely used for industrial purposes. Fiberglass fabrics can also be made to resemble silks and cotton and are used for curtains and drapery. A wide variety of materials are made by combining fiberglass with plastic. These materials, which are rust proof, are molded into the shape required or pressed into flat sheets. Boat hulls, automobile bodies, and roofing and ceiling compositions are some of the uses to which such material is put.
or glass fibre

Fibrous form of glass, developed in the 1930s. Liquid glass issues in fine streams through hundreds of fine nozzles, and the solidifying streams are gathered into a single strand and wound onto a spool. Strands can be twisted into yarns, woven into fabrics, or chopped into short pieces and then bonded into mats. Glass filaments and yarns add strength and electrical resistivity to molded plastic products. Glass fabrics are used as electrical insulators and as reinforcing belts in automobile tires. Discontinuous fibres are formed into wools, mats, or boards, commonly used in buildings, appliances, and plumbing.

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Fiberglass (also called fibreglass and glass fibre see Spelling differences) is material made from extremely fine fibers of glass. It is used as a reinforcing agent for many polymer products; the resulting composite material, properly known as fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) or glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), is called "fiberglass" in popular usage. Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of fiberglass was only made possible with the invention of finer machine-tooling. In 1893, Edward Drummond Libbey exhibited a dress at the World's Columbian Exposition incorporating glass fibers with the diameter and texture of silk fibers. This was first worn by the popular stage actress of the time Georgia Cayvan.

What is commonly known as "fiberglass" today, however, was invented in 1938 by Russell Games Slayter of Owens-Corning as a material to be used as insulation. It is marketed under the trade name Fiberglass, which has become a genericized trademark.

Formation

Glass fiber is formed when thin strands of silica-based or other formulation glass is extruded into many fibers with small diameters suitable for textile processing. Glass, even as a fiber, has little crystalline structure (see amorphous solid). The properties of the structure of glass in its softened stage are very much like its properties when spun into fiber. One definition of glass is "an inorganic substance in a condition which is continuous with, and analogous to the liquid state of that substance, but which, as a result of a reversible change in viscosity during cooling, has attained so high a degree of viscosity as to be for all practical purposes rigid."

The technique of heating and drawing glass into fine fibers has been known for millennia; however, the use of these fibers for textile applications is more recent. The first commercial production of fiberglass was in 1936. In 1938, Owens-Illinois Glass Company and Corning Glass Works joined to form the Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation. Until this time all fiberglass had been manufactured as staple. When the two companies joined together to produce and promote fiberglass, they introduced continuous filament glass fibers. Owens-Corning is still the major fiberglass producer in the market today. Two types of fibre glass most commonly used are S-glass and E-glass.E-glass have good insulation properties and it will maintain its properties up to 1500 degree F(815 deg C). S-glass has a high tensile strength and is stiffer than E-glass.

Chemistry

The basis of textile-grade glass fibers is silica, SiO2. In its pure form it exists as a polymer, (SiO2)n. It has no true melting point but softens up to 2000°C, where it starts to degrade. At 1713°C, most of the molecules can move about freely. If the glass is then cooled quickly, they will be unable to form an ordered structure. In the polymer it forms SiO4 groups which are configured as a tetrahedron with the silicon atom at the center, and four oxygen atoms at the corners. These atoms then form a network bonded at the corners by sharing the oxygen atoms.

The vitreous and crystalline states of silica (glass and quartz) have similar energy levels on a molecular basis, also implying that the glassy form is extremely stable. In order to induce crystallization, it must be heated to temperatures above 1200°C for long periods of time.

Although pure silica is a perfectly viable glass and glass fiber, it must be worked with at very high temperatures, which is a drawback unless its specific chemical properties are needed. It is usual to introduce impurities into the glass in the form of other materials to lower its working temperature. These materials also impart various other properties to the glass which may be beneficial in different applications. The first type of glass used for fiber was soda lime glass or A glass. It was not very resistant to alkali. A new type, E-glass was formed that is alkali free (< 2%) and is an alumino-borosilicate glass. This was the first glass formulation used for continuous Filament formation. E-glass still makes up most of the fiberglass production in the world. Its particular components may differ slightly in percentage, but must fall within a specific range. The letter E is used because it was originally for electrical applications. S-glass is a high strength formulation for use when tensile strength is the most important property. C-glass was developed to resist attack from chemicals, mostly acids which destroy E-glass. T-glass is a North American variant of C-glass. A-glass is an industry term for cullet glass, often bottles, made into fiber. AR-glass is alkali resistant glass. Most glass fibers have limited solubility in water but it is very dependent on pH. Chloride ions will also attack and dissolve E-glass surfaces. A recent trend in the industry is to reduce or eliminate the boron content in the glass fibers.

Since E-glass does not really melt, but soften, the softening point is defined as "the temperature at which a 0.55 – 0.77 mm diameter fiber 235 mm long, elongates under its own weight at 1 mm/min when suspended vertically and heated at the rate of 5°C per minute". The strain point is reached when the glass has a viscosity of 1014.5 poise. The annealing point, which is the temperature where the internal stresses are reduced to an acceptable commercial limit in 15 minutes, is marked by a viscosity of 1013 poise.

Properties

Glass fibers are useful because of their high ratio of surface area to weight. However, the increased surface area makes them much more susceptible to chemical attack.

By trapping air within them, blocks of glass fiber make good thermal insulation, with a thermal conductivity on the order of 0.05 W/(mK).

Glass strengths are usually tested and reported for "virgin" fibers: those which have just been manufactured. The freshest, thinnest fibers are the strongest because the thinner fibers are more ductile. The more the surface is scratched, the less the resulting tenacity. Because glass has an amorphous structure, its properties are the same along the fiber and across the fiber. Humidity is an important factor in the tensile strength. Moisture is easily adsorbed, and can worsen microscopic cracks and surface defects, and lessen tenacity.

In contrast to carbon fiber, glass can undergo more elongation before it breaks. There is a correlation between bending diameter of the filament and the filament diameter. The viscosity of the molten glass is very important for manufacturing success. During drawing (pulling of the glass to reduce fiber circumference) the viscosity should be relatively low. If it is too high the fiber will break during drawing, however if it is too low the glass will form droplets rather than drawing out into fiber.

Manufacturing processes

Melting

There are two main types of glass fiber manufacture and two main types of glass fiber product. First, fiber is made either from a direct melt process or a marble remelt process. Both start with the raw materials in solid form. The materials are mixed together and melted in a furnace. Then, for the marble process, the molten material is sheared and rolled into marbles which are cooled and packaged. The marbles are taken to the fiber manufacturing facility where they are inserted into a can and remelted. The molten glass is extruded to the bushing to be formed into fiber. In the direct melt process, the molten glass in the furnace goes right to the bushing for formation.

Formation

The bushing, (made from small bushes) is the most important part of the machinery. This is a small metal furnace containing nozzles for the fiber to be formed through. It is almost always made of platinum alloyed with rhodium for durability. Platinum is used because the glass melt has a natural affinity for wetting it. When bushings were first used they were 100% platinum and the glass wetted the bushing so easily it ran under the plate after exiting the nozzle and accumulated on the underside. Also, due to its cost and the tendency to wear, the platinum was alloyed with rhodium. In the direct melt process, the bushing serves as a collector for the molten glass. It is heated slightly to keep the glass at the correct temperature for fiber formation. In the marble melt process, the bushing acts more like a furnace as it melts more of the material.p. 91

The bushings are what make the capital investment in fiber glass production expensive. The nozzle design is also critical. The number of nozzles ranges from 200 to 4000 in multiples of 200. The important part of the nozzle in continuous filament manufacture is the thickness of its walls in the exit region. It was found that inserting a counterbore here reduced wetting. Today, the nozzles are designed to have a minimum thickness at the exit. The reason for this is that as glass flows through the nozzle it forms a drop which is suspended from the end. As it falls, it leaves a thread attached by the meniscus to the nozzle as long as the viscosity is in the correct range for fiber formation. The smaller the annular ring of the nozzle or the thinner the wall at exit, the faster the drop will form and fall away, and the lower its tendency to wet the vertical part of the nozzle.p. 94 The surface tension of the glass is what influences the formation of the meniscus. For E-glass it should be around 400 mN per m.

The attenuation (drawing) speed is important in the nozzle design. Although slowing this speed down can make coarser fiber, it is uneconomic to run at speeds for which the nozzles were not designed.

Continuous filament process

In the continuous filament process, after the fiber is drawn, a size is applied. This size helps protect the fiber as it is wound onto a bobbin. The particular size applied relates to end-use. While some sizes are processing aids, others make the fiber have an affinity for a certain resin, if the fiber is to be used in a composite. Size is usually added at 0.5–2.0% by weight. Winding then takes place at around 1000 m per min.

Staple fiber process

In staple fiber production, there are a number of ways to manufacture the fiber. The glass can be blown or blasted with heat or steam after exiting the formation machine. Usually these fibers are made into some sort of mat. The most common process used is the rotary process. Here, the glass enters a rotating spinner, and due to centrifugal force is thrown out horizontally. The air jets push it down vertically and binder is applied. Then the mat is vacuumed to a screen and the binder is cured in the oven.

Glass-reinforced plastic

Glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) is a composite material or fiber-reinforced plastic made of a plastic reinforced by fine glass fibres. Like graphite-reinforced plastic, the composite material is commonly referred to by the name of its reinforcing fibers (fiberglass). Chemosetting plastics are normally used for GRP production – most often polyester (using butanone as a catalyst), but vinylester or epoxy are also used. The glass is can be in the form of chopped strand mat (CSM) or a woven fabric.

As with many other composite materials (such as reinforced concrete), the two materials act together, each overcoming the deficits of the other. Whereas the plastic resins are strong in compressive loading and relatively weak in tensile strength, the glass fibers are very strong in tension but have no strength against compression. By combining the two materials, GRP becomes a material that resists both compressive and tensile forces well. The two materials may be used uniformly or the glass may be specifically placed in those portions of the structure that will experience tensile loads.

Uses

End uses for regular fiber glass are mats, insulation, reinforcement, sound absorption, heat resistant fabrics, corrosion resistant fabrics and high strength fabrics.

Corrugated fiberglass panels are also widely used for outdoor canopy or greenhouse construction. These are thin, rigid panels with a wavy or zig-zag cross-section, usually a pale green or yellow color (although they are also available in other colors). They are usually available in widths of 2-4 feet and lengths of 6-16 feet. Overlapping one wave pattern on each edge is often sufficient to prevent most water or wind penetration through the seams.

See also

Notes and references

Fiberglass wikipedia

External links

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