Fiberglass panels are composite fiberglass products that have been molded into a flat shape. They may be detailed, curved, textured or made for a specific function, like a car door interior. They are made mostly of fiberglass reinforcement, which is composed of chopped or woven fiberglass threads and a thermoplastic resin, which when combined form a strong, chemically resistant material. It is light in weight and is therefore easy to transport, install and handle.
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Application of Fiberglass Panels
Panels made of fiberglass are used in a number of different industries, including building construction, agriculture, acoustics, automotive manufacturing and in sports equipment. Their most common use lies in the construction of greenhouses, outdoor patios and sheds. They serve as inexpensive roofing and siding and are especially helpful in greenhouses because they do not significantly block UV rays.
Fiberglass panels are able to provide protection from harsh sunlight while still letting ultraviolet radiation through. Therefore, these panels also act as skylights and roofing for patios that contain plant life. Fiberglass can be transparent, translucent and a number of different colors, although green is by far the most common. It may be painted and is sometimes covered in gel that acts as a colorant.
Design of Fiberglass Panels
Panels made of fiberglass are manufactured through one of two different processes: open or closed molding. Both use a mandrel or mold and apply layers of gel, fiberglass mat or fabric as well as a thermoplastic resin material, which may be vinyl, polyester, Furan, epoxy or another material.
The process begins with producing the glass fibers, which are made by extruding molten glass through ultra-fine holes. They are then chopped or woven into a mat to serve as the reinforcing agent that makes fiberglass panels so strong and rigid. Open molding consists of a single mold. The first layer, a gel coat, is applied and let dry. Next, the fiberglass material is rolled on, as is the spray-on resin material. Closed molding is similar but uses a mold consisting of two different, separate parts. The gel and fiberglass layers are applied to one mold, and the other is then pressed against it. Next, the resin is injected in molten form. In both processes, the layers form a single composite material and are left to cure. After they have dried and formed the shape of the mold, newly formed fiberglass panels may undergo secondary processing like painting, punching or drilling. Fiberglass is a popular alternative to wood, steel and plastic because of its high strength-to-weight ratio.