Fibre-reinforced plastic is a composite material made of a polymer matrix reinforced with fibres. The fibres are usually glass (in fibreglass), aramid, or basalt. The polymer is usually epoxy, vinyl ester, or polyester thermosetting plastic, though phenol-formaldehyde and resins are still in use.
Fibre-reinforced plastics are a category of composite plastics that specifically use fibre materials to mechanically enhance the strength and elasticity of plastics.
FRPs (commonly referred to simply as fibreglass reinforced plastic) use textile-grade glass fibres. These textile fibres are different from other forms of glass fibres used to deliberately trap air, for insulating applications (see glass wool). Textile glass fibres begin as varying combinations of SiO2, Al2O3, B2O3, CaO, or MgO in powder form. These mixtures are then heated through direct melting to temperatures around 1300 degrees Celsius, after which dies are used to extrude filaments of glass fibre in diameter ranging from 9 to 17 µm. These filaments are then wound into larger threads and spun onto bobbins for transportation and further processing. Glass fibre is by far the most popular means to reinforce plastic and thus enjoys a wealth of production processes, some of which are applicable to aramid and carbon fibres as well owing to their shared fibrous qualities.
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