GFRP has two major components i. the matrix and the reinforcing glass. The Matrix is usually the continuous phase of the composite. It is often not strong on its own but it is very vital because it serves as the bidder of the reinforcing glass-fiber. It is also used for transferring the load to the reinforcing phase. The matrix is made of treated thermosetting polyester resin. The matrix used to make the fiberglass may be a thermosetting plastic, epoxy or sometime thermoplastic. Often this is achieved by having the material in the form of a viscous liquid that contains linear unsaturated polyester, a curing agent i.
a monomer of crosslink, an inhibitor. This is for purposes of retarding the crosslink up to the time the resin is used. On its onset, a catalyst is added by a fabricator together with a glass reinforcement resulting in the GFRP product. The fabricator combines the matrix and the catalyst plus the glass reinforcement. The monomer in the matrix usually reacts with the polyester through an initial process called free radical initiation. This then allows for crosslinking of the polyester chain and to the final curing stage.
It is important to note external heat can or cannot be applied throughout the entire process. This, however, usually depends on the catalytic system being used. The process ends with the formation of a rigid solid material that is chemically and mechanically joined resulting in a very strong composite. This material has better properties than both of the materials alone (National Research Council Canada, 1978, 27, Nelson 2005)The polyester resins are usually reinforced with glass making the composite strong and resistant to many chemical effects.
GFRP is the most common thermosetting plastic that is used largely in chemical plants. The composite can be easily molded and shaped to complex forms using various techniques available for working with reinforced plastics i. hand lay-up, spray-up, Vacuum bag molding, resin infusion, compression molding et cetera. GFRP is relatively strong and has a high resistance to a range of chemicals.
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