"Glass Fiber-Reinforced Polymer (GFRP), is a fiber reinforced polymer made of a plastic matrix reinforced by fine fibers made of glass. It is also known simply by the name of the reinforcing fibers themselves: fiberglass."

A brief history of GFRP

Early man was aware of the basic principle that a composite material is greater than the sum of its parts. For example clay and straw were found to be stronger than clay alone; straw being the fibrosis reinforcement and clay being the matrix. The first use of glass fibre reinforced polyester composites was in the aircraft industry during the 1940s. This was followed some years later by the first non-military application in the marine sector, where GFRP proved a complete innovation - revolutionising the way boats were built.

Emergence of composite materials was a great development in the field of material engineering. Discovery of new type of composites led to the replacement of many traditionally used materials. Carbon fiber based plastics, glass fiber based plastics and other materials began to be used in high end applications like space, defense, aircrafts, robotics, special structures as well as in industries like automobile etc. 'These materials began to replace metals and cement based structures where high strength and light weight was the defining criteria. These materials can be fabricated with specified parameters like strength, shape and size, colour, durability, UV protection, impact resistance etc.

GFRP provides an unrivalled combination of properties:

  • Light weight
  • High strength-to-weight ratio (kilo-for-kilo it's stronger than steel)
  • Design freedom
  • High levels of stiffness
  • Chemical resistance
  • Good electrical insulating properties
  • Retention of dimensional stability across a wide range of temperatures

Glass Fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) composites have been used for structural strengthening in the United States for almost 25 years. During this period, acceptance of GFRP composites as a mainstream construction material has grown, and so has the number of completed GFRP strengthening projects. As a result, the use of GFRP for strengthening and retrofit is gaining more popularity among design professionals over conventional strengthening techniques, such as installation of supplemental structural steel frames and elements.

GFRP composites can be manufactured on site using the wet lay-up process in which a dry fabric, made of carbon or glass, is impregnated with epoxy and bonded to prepared concrete substrate. Once cured, the GFRP becomes an integral part of the structural element, acting as an externally bonded reinforcing system. GFRP composites can also be prefabricated in a manufacturing facility in which the material is pultruded to create different shapes that can be used for strengthening applications, such as rods, bars arid plates.