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By blending quarry products (sand, kaolin, limestone, colemanite) at 1,600°C, liquid glass is formed. The liquid is passed through micro-fine bushings and simultaneously cooled to produce glass fibre filaments from 5-24 m in diameter. The filaments are drawn together into a strand (closely associated) or roving (loosely associated), and coated with a “size” to provide filament cohesion and protect the glass from abrasion.
By variation of the “recipe”, different types of glass can be produced. The types used for structural reinforcements are as follows:
E-glass (electrical) – lower alkali content and stronger than A glass (alkali). Good tensile and compressive strength and stiffness, good electrical properties and relatively low cost, but impact resistance relatively poor. Depending on the type of E glass the price ranges from about £1-2/kg. E-glass is the most common form of reinforcing fibre used in polymer matrix composites.
C-glass (chemical) – best resistance to chemical attack. Mainly used in the form of surface tissue in the outer layer of laminates used in chemical and water pipes and tanks.
R, S or T-glass – manufacturer’s trade names for equivalent fibres having higher tensile strength and modulus than E glass, with better wet strength retention. Higher ILSS and wet out properties are achieved through smaller filament diameter. S-glass is produced in the USA by OCF, R-glass in Europe by Vetrotex and T-glass by Nittobo in Japan. Developed for aerospace and defence industries, and used in some hard ballistic armour applications. This factor, and low production volumes mean relatively high price. Depending on the type of R or S glass the price ranges from about £12-20/kg.
E Glass fibre is available in the following forms:
It is also possible to obtain long fibres of glass from short fibres by spinning them. These spun yarn fibres have higher surface areas and are more able to absorb resin, but they have lower structural properties than the equivalent continuously drawn fibres.
Published courtesy of David Cripps, Gurit
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