It’s a telling fact that modern industry still hasn’t found a substance to top fibreglass. Fibreglass moulds have been around for almost a century and they’re still top of the list when it comes to manufacturing strong, lightweight and durable solutions to almost every basic engineering need.
What fibreglass does, that no other material can do so well, is to combine cost effectiveness, lightness and versatility with unbeatable strength. The glass fibres in the plastic (fibreglass is also known as GRP or Glass Reinforced Plastic) give the material a tensile strength far greater than any other substance of similar weight: while the plastic itself allows moulding into an almost limitless variety of shapes and sizes. As a result, fibreglass moulds can be used to cast objects with an equally unbounded quantity of intended uses. Car bodies, roller coaster units, sound baffles, septic tanks, chemical processing tanks, warehouse roofs: the possibilities are only limited by the imaginations of the people who build these things in the first place.
Though the moulding technology has developed over the last 50 years, the material hasn’t. Testament enough to its quality and variety of application, and reason enough for the industry to continue developing more and more ingenious ways of moulding the stuff in the first place. Modern fibreglass moulds can construct hugely complicated shapes by forming the objects as discrete parts, which are then “sewn” together using modern machining processes. In this way, even the body of a high performance sports car can be made completely from fibreglass, whose lightness and strength makes a huge contribution to the car’s performance. Its weight ensures maximum speed while its strength means that speed can be attained without fear that heavy torque forces will damage the vehicle’s structure.
There’s a use for moulded fibreglass in almost every area of UK industry – from the flamboyant and unusual, such as the production of high speed vehicles (Formula 1 racing boats have fibreglass hulls) to the eminently practical. Fibreglass moulds offer the perfect construction method for stadium seating, leisure centre fittings and aquatic sports equipment as well as the objects we see daily on our roads and in our towns: bollards, safety cones, speed camera casings and traffic light lenses. According to application, fibreglass, or Glass Reinforced Plastic, can be a high performance material used to combine lightness of weight with extremely streamlined and force-resistant shapes; or a cost effective way of providing mass produced civic furniture.
It’s nice to think that, in this age of continual replacement, one material is going as strong (and as light, and as versatile) as it was 50 years ago. Unlike almost any other type of material (steel gave way to alloys; wood gave way to brick) used in large concentrations in the modern world, fibreglass and fibreglass moulds have held sway at the top of their varied “professions” ever since day one. And they don’t look like changing any time soon. For versatility, performance and thoroughly up to date flexibility, there’s only one substance to choose.