You are on page 1of 28


his manual is an overview of the Fiber Reinforced
Plastic/Composite (FRP/Composite) material system.
Materials and processes are presented along with design
guidelines and comparisons to alternate materials. Because
of the versatility of FRP/Composites, the designer is
encouraged to collaborate with a molder and/or material
supplier to optimize the application.

Definition of Composites......................1

What are FRP/Composites?.................2
Benefits and Features
of FRP/Composites..............................3
Fibers and Resins....................................4
FRP Composite Molding
The FRP/Composite
Design Process......................................17
Guide to Design Details......................20

© Molded Fiber Glass Companies 2003
Composites are a combination of two or more materials
yielding properties superior to those of the individual
ingredients. One material is in the form of a particulate or
fiber, called the reinforcement or discrete phase. The other
is a formable solid, called the matrix or continuous phase.
The region where the reinforcement and matrix meet is
called the interface. Composite properties are determined by
chemical and mechanical interaction of the combined materials.
Wood and concrete are composites under this definition.

This document is limited to the application of the subset of
composites called Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) that
combine fibers of glass or other materials (the reinforcement)
with thermoset and/or thermoplastic resins (the matrix).

iberglass reinforced plastic,
commonly known as
fiberglass, was developed commercially
after World War II. Since that time,
the use of fiberglass has grown rapidly.

The term “fiberglass” describes a
thermoset plastic resin that is
reinforced with glass fibers.
In this manual, the more general
terms Fiber Reinforced Plastic/
Composites or FRP/Composites
will be used to describe these
extremely useful material systems.

Plastic resins come in two different
classes - thermosets and
thermoplastics. From a practical
perspective, it’s easy to remember
that thermosets maintain their molded
shape at higher temperatures and
cannot be melted and reshaped.
Thermoplastics will melt at a given
temperature and can be solidified
into new shapes by cooling to
ambient temperatures. Thermosets
and thermoplastics are described The plastic resin systems determine Final properties are determined by
with more detail in the Resin chemical, electrical, and thermal many factors including the type,
Systems section of this document. properties. Fibers provide strength, amount, and composition of the
dimensional stability, and heat resin systems and reinforcements.
Reinforcing fibers include glass, carbon, resistance. Additives provide color In addition, the use of additives can
aramid and other man-made and natural and determine surface finish, and greatly affect the FRP/Composite
materials that are further described in affect many other properties such properties.
the Reinforcement section of this as weathering and flame retardance.
document. These are used in a variety
of forms and combinations to provide Processing of FRP/Composites
the required properties. involves complex chemical reactions.

responsible for applications in qualify them for use in primary
corrosive environments such as support applications such as circuit
Corrosion Resistance those found in the chemical processing breaker housings, and where low
and water treatment industries. moisture absorption is required.
Resistance to corrosion provides
High Strength, Lightweight long life and low maintenance in Minimum Finishing Required
marine applications from sailboats FRP/Composites can be pigmented
and minesweepers to seawalls and as part of the mixing operation or
Dimensional Stability offshore oil platforms. coated as part of the molding
process, often eliminating the need
High Strength, Lightweight for painting. This is particularly
Parts Consolidation and
FRP/Composites provide high cost effective for large components
Tooling Minimization strength to weight ratios exceeding such as tub/shower units. Also, on
those of aluminum or steel. High critical appearance components, a
strength, lightweight FRP/Composites class “A” surface is achieved.
High Dielectric Strength and are a rational choice whenever weight
Low Moisture Absorption savings are desired, such as components Low to Moderate Tooling Costs
for the transportation industry. Regardless of the molding method
selected, tooling for FRP/Composites
Minimum Finishing Required Dimensional Stability usually represents a small part of
FRP/Composites have high the product cost. For either
Low to Moderate Tooling Costs dimensional stability under varying large-volume mass-production or
physical, environmental, and thermal limited runs, tooling cost is normally
stresses. This is one of the most useful substantially lower than that of the
Design Flexibility properties of FRP/Composites. multiple forming tools required to
produce a similar finished part
Parts Consolidation and in metal.
Tooling Minimization.
A single FRP composite molding Design Flexibility
often replaces an assembly of No other major material system
several metal parts and associated offers the design flexibility of
fasteners, reducing assembly and FRP/Composites. Present
There can be many benefits handling time, simplifying inventory, applications vary widely. They range
obtained by the use of FRP/ and reducing manufacturing costs. from commercial fishing boat hulls
Composites. These benefits and A single FRP/Composite tool can and decks to truck fenders, from
characteristics should be considered replace several progressive tools parabolic TV antennas to transit
early in the design process. required in metal stamping. seating, and from outdoor lamp
Corrosion Resistance housings to seed hoppers. What
High Dielectric Strength and the future holds depends on the
FRP/Composites do not rust, corrode Low Moisture Absorption imagination of today’s design
or rot, and they resist attack from The excellent electrical insulating engineers as they develop even
most industrial and household properties and low moisture more innovative applications for
chemicals. This quality has been absorption of FRP/Composites FRP/Composites.

Much of the strength of
FRP/Composites is due to
the type, amount and
arrangement of the fiber
reinforcement. While over
90% of the reinforcements in use
are glass fibers, other reinforcements
have established a critical niche.

E-glass is the most commonly used
fiber reinforcement. It is strong,
has good heat resistance, and high
electrical properties. For more
critical needs, S-Glass offers higher
heat resistance and about one-third Aramid, or aromatic polyamide Unidirectional arrangements provide
higher tensile strength (at a higher fibers (Kevlar® or Twaron®) the greatest strength in the direction
cost) than that of E-glass. provide high strength and low of the fibers. Unidirectional fibers can
density (40% lower than glass) as be continuous or intermittent,
Carbon Fibers (graphite) are well as high modulus. These fibers depending on specific needs
available in a wide range of properties can be incorporated in many determined by part shape and
and costs. These fibers combine polymers and are extensively used process used. This arrangement
light weight with very high strength in high impact applications, including permits very high reinforcement
and modulus of elasticity. The ballistic resistance. loading for maximum strengths.
modulus of elasticity is a measure The fibers in a bidirectional arrangement
of the stiffness or rigidity in a Natural Fibers such as Sisal, Hemp are in two directions – usually at 900
material. For high stiffness and Flax have been used for many to each other, thus providing the
applications these reinforcements applications with low strength highest strength in those directions.
are hard to beat, with a modulus of requirements. They are limited to The same number of fibers need
elasticity that can equal steel. FRP/ applications not requiring resistance not necessarily be used in both
Composites with carbon fiber to moisture or high humidity. directions. High fiber loading can
reinforcement also have excellent be obtained in woven bidirectional
fatigue properties. The primary use Arrangement of the glass fibers - reinforcements.
of carbon fibers is in aircraft and how the individual strands are
aerospace, in which weight savings positioned – determines both Multidirectional or random
are a major objective. While its cost direction and level of strength arrangements provide essentially
limits carbon’s use in commercial achieved in a molded FRP/Composite. equal strength in all directions of the
applications, it is used extensively where The three basic arrangements of glass finished part.
material content is low, such as fiber reinforcement are unidirectional,
sporting equipment. bidirectional and multidirectional.

Kevlar® is a registered trademark of E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company
Twaron® is a registered trademark of Teijin Twaron, BV.

Woven Fabrics additives to prepare molding
compounds for compression or
Made from fiber yarns, woven
injection molding and other
fabrics are of a finer texture than
Reinforcements are supplied in processes. Various surface treatments
woven roving. They are available in
several basic forms to provide are applied to ensure optimum
a broad range of sizes and in
flexibility in cost, strength, compatibility with different resin
weights from 21/2 to 18 oz./sq. yd.
compatibility with the resin system, systems.
Various strength orientations are
and process requirements. also available.
Regardless of the final form, all
fiber reinforcements originate as Reinforcing Mat
single filaments. A large number Made from either continuous
of filaments are formed The matrix or resin is the other
strands laid down in a swirl pattern major component of an FRP/
simultaneously and gathered into a or from chopped strands, reinforcing
strand. A surface treatment is then Composite. Resin systems are
mat is held together with a resinous selected for their chemical, electrical
applied to facilitate subsequent binder or mechanically stitched.
processing, maintain fiber integrity, and thermal properties. The two
These mats are used for medium- major classes of resins are thermosets
and provide compatibility with strength FRP/Composites.
specific resin systems. After this and thermoplastics.
Combination mat, consisting of
treatment, the strands are further woven roving and chopped strand Thermoset Resins
processed into various forms of mat bonded together, is used to
reinforcements for use in molding Thermosetting polymers are usually
save time in hand lay-up operations. liquid or low melting point solids
FRP/Composites. Hybrid mats of glass and carbon that can easily combine with fibers
Continuous Strand Roving and aramid fibers are also available for or fillers prior to curing. Thermosets
higher-strength reinforced products. feature cross-linked polymer chains
This basic form of reinforcement is
supplied as untwisted strands Surfacing Mat that become solid during a chemical
wound into a cylindrical package reaction or “cure” with the application
Surfacing mat or veil is a thin fiber of a catalyst and heat. The high
for further processing. Continuous mat made of monofilament and is
roving is typically chopped for level of cross-linking provides
not considered a reinforcing for reduced creep compared to
spray-up, preform or sheet molding material. Rather, its purpose is to
compounds. In the continuous form, thermoplastics. The thermoset
provide a good surface finish reaction is essentially irreversible.
it is used in pultrusion and because of its effectiveness in
filament-winding processes. blocking out the fiber pattern of Among the thermoset resins for
Woven Roving the underlying mat or fabric. FRP/Composites, the family of
Surfacing mat is also used on the unsaturated polyesters is by far the
Woven from continuous roving, inside layer of corrosion-resistant most widely used. These resins are
this is a heavy, drapable fabric FRP/Composite products to suitable for practically every molding
available in various widths, thicknesses produce a smooth, resin-rich process available for thermosets.
and weights. Woven roving costs less surface.
than conventional woven fabric and
Chopped Fibers Polyesters offer ease of handling,
is used to provide high strength in large
low cost, dimensional stability, and
structural components such as tanks Chopped strands or fibers are a balance of good mechanical,
and boat hulls. Woven roving is used available in lengths from 1/8” to 2” chemical, and electrical properties.
primarily in hand lay-up processing. for blending with resins and

They can be formulated for high Additives are easily incorporated Diallyl phthalates -Good electrical
resistance to acids, weak alkalies and into resin systems to provide insulation, low water absorption.
organic solvents. They are not pigmentation, flame retardance,
Thermoplastic Resins
recommended for use with strong weather resistance, superior surface
alkalis. Other formulations are finish, low shrinkage and other Thermoplastic polymers can soften
designed for low or high- desirable properties. and become viscous liquids when
temperature processing, for room heated for processing and then
Gel coats consisting of a special
temperature or high-temperature become solid when cooled. The
resin formulation provide an
cure, or for flexible or rigid end process is reversible allowing a
extremely smooth next-to-mold
products. reasonable level of process waste
surface finish on FRP/Composites.
and recycled material to be reused
They are commonly applied in
Vinylesters provide excellent without significant effect on the
hand lay-up and spray-up processes
resistance to water, organic solvents end product. Thermoplastic resins
to produce a tough, resilient,
and alkalis, but less resistance to allow for faster molding cycle times
weather-resistant surface. Gel coats,
acids than polyesters. Vinylesters because there is no chemical
which may be pigmented, are sprayed
are stronger than polyesters and reaction in the curing process.
onto the mold before the
more resilient than epoxies. Molding Parts may be formed as fast as heat
reinforcement and resin are
conditions for vinylesters are similar can be transferred into and out of
to those for polyesters. the molding compound.
Other thermosetting resin systems,
Polypropylene and polyethylene are
Epoxies are another family of generally formulated with chopped
the most common thermoplastic
thermoset resins used in FRP/ strand or milled fiber reinforcement
resins used in FRP/Composites.
Composites. They have excellent for compression or transfer
They have excellent resistance to
adhesion properties and are suited molding are:
acids and alkalies and have good
for service at higher temperatures – Phenolics-Good acid resistance, resistance to organic solvents. Their
some as high as 500oF. Epoxy-matrix good fire/smoke, and thermal relatively low melting points allow
FRP/Composites are processed by any properties. for rapid processing at lower cost.
of the thermoset methods. Epoxies Silicones -Highest heat resistance,
Nylon and Acetal are highly
are more expensive than polyesters, low water absorption, excellent
resistant to organic solvents and
and cure times are longer, but their dielectric properties.
may also be used where increased
extended range of properties can Melamines -Good heat resistance, mechanical properties are required.
make them the cost/performance high impact strength.
choice for critical applications.
Epoxy/fiber structures have generally
higher fatigue properties than polyesters.

Polyurethanes are a family of resins
that offer very high toughness, high
elongation, faster cure times and
good coupling to a variety of
reinforcements. Polyurethanes are
easily foamed in a controlled process to
produce a wide range of densities.

FRP/Composite simulator screens provide a stable close-tolerance spherical projection
surface in military and commercial flight trainers

Liquid Composite Molding (LCM) Another form of reinforcement
A fiber preform of the part is produced used with LCM as well as most
by forming fibers and a resin binder other molding processes is called
The molding experience of thousands in a controlled manner to the same mat. This material is a random
of applications in the past five shape as the part to be molded. distribution of fibers in roll or
decades has enabled FRP/ The combination is cured to sheet form. Its use is limited to
Composites polymer chemists to provide physical integrity during parts that are relatively flat, have
develop a number of standard handling and molding operations. curvature in only one plane, or have
resin-reinforcement-additive a slight compound curvature.
combinations that are used for most Parts molded using LCM with
production needs. Industry preforms are particularly suited for FRP/Composite Compound Forms
research teams also stand ready to boxlike, deep-drawn shapes in A few ready-to-mold compound
custom design new blends of FRP/Composite parts. The fibers forms have been developed to support
materials to provide the exact needs stay in place during molding and the highest volume production
of new applications. Because most also ensure good wet-out of the while maintaining good mechanical
high production-volume FRP/ matrix resin, which is added at the properties in complicated parts.
Composite parts are made by press. The result is uniform properties Of these, sheet molding and bulk
compression molding, several in the plane of the part walls because molding compounds (SMC/BMC)
ready-to-mold material forms have there is no flow of reinforcement are based on thermoset resins while
been developed to facilitate and during molding. The fiber content thermoplastic resins are used in
speed the molding process. Each of preform-molded parts can be glass mat thermoplastic and long
of these forms is designed to best controlled from 15 percent to a fiber-reinforced thermoplastic
produce a specific type of finished maximum of approximately 50 percent (GMT/LFTP).
product and provide a distinctive set of by weight. Fiber lengths vary from
property and appearance features. /2” to 3”. •Sheet Molding Compound (SMC)
SMC contains long glass fibers (1”
to 2”) dispersed in a resin matrix.
The fiber arrangement can be
directional, random, or a combination
of both. SMC is manufactured in a
highly automated, continuous flow
process. The compound takes the
form of a flexible, leather-like sheet
that is easily cut, weighed and placed in
the mold for curing to the desired
part configuration.

Fiberglass preforms are produced by robotically chopping
glass fibers and resin emulsion on to a metal screen the
same size and shape as the part to be molded.

•Compression-Molded Reinforced
Reinforced thermoplastics can be
compression molded into many parts
using processes similar to those for
SMC and BMC. There are two
material forms available for such molding.

Glass Mat Thermoplastic (GMT) is a
fiberglass reinforced sheet that has
been available for many years. It is
typically 30% – 50% glass fiber in a
polypropylene matrix. When heated
above its melting point, GMT can be
compression molded very similar to
A continuous process creates a “sandwich” of glass and resin paste between sheets of film in SMC production.
Standard SMC contains up to 35 •Bulk Molding Compound (BMC)
percent of randomly oriented fibers Long Fiber-reinforced Thermoplastic
BMC is a mixture of short (1/8 to
by weight. Because there is no (LFTP) is a process that has more
1/2 in.) fibers with resin containing
mixing or extruding involved in recently been commercialized. This
filler, a catalyst, pigment and other
preparing sheet molding compound, the process uses a special thermoplastic
additives required by the application.
fibers remain undamaged and at their extruder to compound thermoplastic
The premixed material, having the
original lengths. This plus the higher pellets with long fibers of up to 2
consistency of modeling clay, is
fiber loading provides very good inches. The melted resin/fiber material is
usually extruded into rope or log
mechanical properties in compres- ejected from the extruder as a charge that
shapes for easy handling.
sion-molded SMC parts, especially is immediately compression molded,
those having relatively thin cross very similar to BMC.
The strength of BMC-molded FRP/
Composite is lowest of those made
from ready-to-mold forms because The properties of these moldings
FRP/Composite parts molded from vary depending on the fiber fraction
the mixing operation degrades the
SMC are characterized by high strength, and type of thermoplastic used.
fibers and the fiber content is lowest.
very smooth surfaces and excellent detail Typically such materials are lower
In addition, properties are subject to
in complex shapes. However, because weight and have high impact resistance,
fiber orientation because the compound
SMC flows in the mold, fiber orientation but have lower modulus and lower
must flow to fill the mold. However,
and properties can vary throughout a heat resistance than those using
BMC is economical and satisfies a
part, particularly in deep-drawn shapes. thermoset resin.
wide variety of high-volume,
compression-molded parts requiring
Several variations of SMC are available. The most common thermoplastic
fine finish, dimensional stability,
One contains 8” to 12” unidirectional resins are polypropylene and
complex features, and moderate
fibers and another contains continuous polyethylene; however, engineering
overall mechanical properties.
unidirectional fibers. Other versions have plastics such as thermoplastic
higher fiber contents of up to 65 percent polyesters or nylon can be used to
by weight and are used for structural achieve higher properties.

Matched Die Molding finished surfaces, and outstanding
Matched die molding methods part to part repeatability. Trimming
produce highly consistent, net-shape and finishing costs are minimal.
esponding to the requirements and near-net shape parts with two
of a demanding market finished surfaces and low labor cost. •Low Pressure-Low Temperature
place, the FRP/Composite These methods include compression; Compression Molding
industry is ever on the move low pressure, low temperature This method uses composite or
developing new resin systems, new compression; transfer compression; nickel-shell molds that may not be
types of reinforcements, and new resin transfer, injection; and heated, but usually are constructed with
combinations of these materials. structural reaction injection molding. coils to heat or control mold temperature.
And in keeping with these
advancements, processes continue •Compression Molding The molding process is an economical
to be improved, refined and further compression molding method for
automated to provide better output manufacturing intermediate volumes
while reducing handling time and of parts using a low-pressure cure
costs. Today’s presses feature ever- and inexpensive molds.
closer control of processing times,
temperatures and pressures, as well Preform or mat reinforcement is
as part dimensions. Overall part size placed on the lower mold half and
capability continues to increase, a resin/filler mixture is added.
permitting the commonplace The mold is closed under moderate
production of sizes and weights of Compression molding is the primary pressure of 20 to 200 psi, and the
FRP/Composites not possible just a choice for most high-volume FRP/ FRP/Composite part cures. This is
few years ago. Composite parts made from BMC, suited mainly for relatively simple
SMC, Liquid Composite (preform), shapes, without ribs or bosses.
GMT, or LFTP. The high-pressure
molding process produces high- •Transfer Compression Molding
strength, complex parts in a wide
In addition to the wide variety of variety of sizes. Matched metal molds This process is characterized by
material combinations, there are are mounted in a hydraulic or molding operations using a transfer
many choices available for processing mechanical molding press. The material cylinder that is usually built into the
FRP/Composite products. These charge is placed in the open mold. tool. The material charge made of
choices provide for even greater The heated mold halves are closed, resin, reinforcement and additives is
flexibility in optimizing the shape, and pressure is applied. Molding moved to the transfer cylinder and
properties and production cost of time, depending on part size and subsequently forced into the closed
FRP/Composite components. thickness, ranges from about one to mold cavity or cavities by the
Matched die molding, contact molding five minutes. Inserts and attachments transfer piston. It is best suited for
and more specialized molding methods can be molded in. very thick parts, like transformer
represent the top-level choices. The bobbins, and is very effective for
designer is encouraged to collaborate Compression-molded FRP/ multiple-cavity molds.
with a molder and/or material Composites are characterized
supplier to optimize the application. by net size and shape, two excellent

•Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) molded in similar equipment durability. For structural applications,
commonly used for thermoplastic however, the low temperature and
resins. The principle difference lies pressure characteristics of SRIM make
in the temperatures maintained in large structural shapes practical.
various areas of the system. With
thermoplastics, the injection screw Contact Molding Methods
and chamber are maintained at a Contact, or open mold methods
relatively high temperature, and the provide a lower tooling cost when
Resin Forced into Mold Under Pressure die is cooled so the molded part sets only one finished surface is required.
Suitable for medium-volume production up. In contrast, for a thermoset These methods also allow for a
of rather large FRP/Composite FRP/Composite, the screw and shorter product development cycle
components, resin transfer molding is chamber are cooled so the resin because of the simplified tooling
usually considered an intermediate does not cross-link and gel, and the fabrication process.
process between the relatively slow die is heated so it does cross-link
and cure. Injection molding offers •Hand Lay-Up
spray-up with lower tooling costs and
the faster compression-molding high-speed production and low
methods, which require higher tooling direct labor costs. Combined with
costs. RTM parts, like compression- the excellent mechanical properties
molded parts, have two finished available from a long-fibered BMC,
surfaces, but molded parts require the result is a capability for high
secondary trimming. Gel coats may volumes of complex parts with
be used to provide a high-quality, properties approaching those of
durable finish. Reinforcement mat or compression or transfer molded parts.
The simplest and oldest of the
woven roving is placed in the mold, fabrication processes for FRP/
•Structural Reaction Injection
which is then closed and clamped. Composites, hand lay-up, is used in
Molding (SRIM)
Catalyzed, low-viscosity resin is low-volume production of large
pumped in under pressure, displacing This method is suitable for medium-to-
components such as boat hulls and
the air and venting it at the edges, high volume FRP/Composite parts
associated parts.
until the mold is filled. Molds for requiring superior strength with no loss
this low-pressure system are in toughness or flexibility. The SRIM A pigmented gel coat is first sprayed
usually made from FRP/Composites process also produces parts with high onto the mold for a high-quality surface.
or nickel-shell faced FRP/ impact resistance and lower weight, and When the gel coat has cured, glass
Composite construction. is excellent for larger part sizes. reinforcing mat and/or woven
•Injection Molding roving is placed on the mold, and
Like injection molding, resin is
the catalyzed resin is poured,
injected into a closed mold. However,
brushed or sprayed on. Manual
the SRIM process utilizes a preform or
rolling then removes entrapped air,
reinforcing mat, which is placed into
densifies the FRP/Composite and
the mold prior to closure, resulting in
thoroughly wets the reinforcement
even distribution of glass and uniform
with the resin. Additional layers of
mechanical properties.
mat or woven roving and resin are
SRIM parts offer two finished surfaces, added for thickness. A catalyst or
but the polyurethane systems typically accelerator initiates curing in the
Reinforced thermoset molding used do not provide a good cosmetic resin system, which hardens the
compounds can be injection surface or a high level of dimensional FRP/Composite without external heat.

Hand lay-up offers low-cost tooling, •Vacuum Bag Molding relatively high glass content. Fiber
simple processing and a wide range of content is determined by fiber
part size potential. Design changes are architecture and pressure. This
made easily. Parts have one finished process is environmentally friendly
surface and require secondary trimming. Flexible Film
Heat Source since there is no resin exposure.
Edge Bleeder
•Spray-Up Laminate
Mold •Autoclave Molding

Insulated Shell
Air Distribution Shroud Heating Elements

Vacuum bag processing uses a Bagged Composites
on Molds
vacuum to eliminate entrapped air Quick
Air Fan
and excess resin from a lay-up form
on either a male or female mold. A
non-adhering film (usually polyvinyl
alcohol or nylon) is placed over the Autoclave molding is a further
lay-up and sealed at its edges. A modification of vacuum bag. The
Similar to hand lay-up in simplicity, vacuum is drawn on the bag formed process produces denser, void-free
spray-up offers greater shape complexity by the film, and the FRP/Composite is FRP/Composites because higher
and faster production. It too uses a cured, either at room temperature heat and pressure are used in the
low-cost open mold (one finished part or with moderate heat to speed the cure. Autoclaves are essentially
surface), room temperature curing process. Compared to hand lay-up, heated pressure vessels (usually
resin, and is suited for producing the vacuum method provides higher equipped with vacuum systems)
large FRP/Composite parts such as reinforcement concentration and into which bagged lay-ups, on their
tub/shower units and vent hoods in better adhesion between molds, are cured at pressures of 50
low to moderate quantities. Cure is reinforcement layers. to 100 psig. Autoclaves are normally
usually at room temperature, but used to process high-performance
can be accelerated by application of •Vacuum Infusion Molding
components based on epoxy-resin
moderate heat. The infusion process differs from systems for aircraft and aerospace
vacuum bag molding in that all the applications.
Chopped fiber reinforcement and reinforcements are placed in the
catalyzed resin are deposited in the mold dry, often combined with cores or Other Significant Molding Methods
mold from a combination chopper/ other special inserts. Vacuum is then •Filament Winding
spray gun. As with lay-up, manual applied to compact the reinforcement
rolling removes entrapped air and wets and eliminate air. Resin is introduced (Wet Method)
the fiber reinforcement. Woven with the vacuum drawing the resin
roving is often added in specific areas throughout the reinforcement. Resin Trough
for thickness or greater strength. Very large parts can be made by this
Pigmented gel coats can be used to method although it requires a very
produce a smooth, colorful surface. low viscosity resin and a relatively
long fill time as well as bleeder film
and other venting.
The resin infusion process results in
very low void content and excellent Mandrel

mechanical properties due to the

Continuous, resin-impregnated •Pultrusion
fibers or roving are wound on a Roving/
rotating mandrel in a predetermined Surface
pattern, providing maximum Veil

control over fiber placement and Cutoff Pull Rolls
Steel Dies
Forming Block
uniformity of structure. In the wet
method, the fiber picks up the
low-viscosity resin either by passing
through a trough or from a metered Finishing Pultrusion Resin Tank
application system. In the dry
method, the reinforcement is Technical drawings reprinted from Machine Design, October 22, 1987. Copyright, 1987, by Penton Publishing Inc., Cleveland, OH.

impregnated with resin prior to winding.
Constant section-reinforced FRP/ resin and sandwiched between two
Integral fittings and vessel closings Composite shapes, such as structural carrier film sheets. The material
can be wound into the structure. I-beams, channels, solid rod, pipe, then passes between steel rollers to
When sufficient layers have been and ladder rails are produced in eliminate entrapped air and to establish
applied, the FRP/Composite is continuous lengths by pultrusion. finished laminate thickness, then
cured on the mandrel and the The reinforcement, consisting of a through a heated zone to cure the
mandrel is removed. combination of roving, mat, cloth resin. Wall thickness can be closely
and surfacing veil, is pulled through controlled.
Filament winding is traditionally a resin bath to wet-out the fibers,
used to produce cylindrical and then drawn through a forming A wide variety of surface finishes
spherical FRP/Composite products block that sets the shape of the and textures can be applied, and
such as chemical and fuel storage composite and removes excess panel length is unlimited. Corrugations
tanks and pipe, pressure vessels and resin, and through a heated steel die are produced by molds or by rollers
rocket motor cases. However, the to cure the resin. The finished just prior to the curing stage.
technology has been expanded, and shape is cut to lengths by a traveling
with computer-controlled winding cutoff saw.
machines, other shapes are now
being made. Examples are helicopter Very high strengths are possible in
tail booms and rotor blades, wind pultruded shapes because of high
turbine blades and aircraft engine cowls. fiber content (to 75 percent) and
orientation parallel to the length of
the FRP/Composite shape.
Pultrusion is easily automated, and
there is no practical limit to product
length manufactured by the process.
•Continuous laminating
Sheet FRP products, such as clear
or translucent glazing panels, flat
and corrugated construction panels
and electrical insulation panels, are
made by a continuous laminating Strong, lightweight FRP/Composite domes use self-
supporting sandwich construction to protect sensitive
process. Chopped rovings, reinforcing electronic equipment from the Sahara to Antactica while
Precision robotic waterjet cutting is used
to ensure part to part trimming accuracy. mat and fabric are combined with remaining transparent to the electromagnetic signals.

Now, in addition to these factors, a Chemical
fourth principle must be considered: Properties
Total value received results from
iber reinforced plastics can be good design based on judicious
Resistance to acids,
formulated to withstand a selection of materials and process. alkalies and
variety of service environments organic solvents;
and to satisfy many specific The following section provides a water absorption;
end-use requirements. These can step-by-step method for optimizing resistance to ozone,
include a broad service temperature cost/performance in FRP/Composite
range, electrical insulation properties, molded parts.
ultraviolet radiation
corrosion resistance, abrasion resistance and weathering.
and flammability. Many applications
require considerable strength – Fitness for
tensile, flexural, compressive or Service
impact. Surface finishes can be The design process starts with
highly refined or they may be textured. determining the functional Surface quality and
In many cases, color can be molded requirements of the component cosmetic appearance;
in. Parts can be large or small, or assembly being designed. dimensional stability,
simple or complex. Because of the These considerations include:
versatility of FRP/Composites and
fabrication and end-use
the many material and process tolerancing, and
choices, the designer is encouraged
Mechanical compatibility with other
to collaborate with a molder and/ Properties materials.
or material supplier to optimize the
design process and its end product. Tensile, compressive
and flexural strength; Other function-related requirements
Consideration of many of these may involve machinability, abrasion
elongation and
requirements leads to the choice of resistance and properties needed to
impact resistance. meet Underwriters’ Laboratory,
reinforcement, resin system and
processing method. These decisions National Sanitary Foundation
are governed by the three basic Physical standards or other code authority.
principles of designing with FRP/ Properties
Hardness and density;
Mechanical strength depends on
the amount and arrangement of dielectric strength; The next step in the design process
the glass fiber reinforcement. volume resistivity and is to establish cost targets. Evaluation of
arc resistance; thermal the economics of a specific application
Chemical, electrical and thermal conductivity, heat distortion requires a systems approach so the
performance depend on the and heat resistance; FRP/Composite component(s) is
formulation of the resin system. viewed in the context of its total
flammability and thermal contribution to the end use. This,
Molding process is determined by expansion coefficient. of course, broadens the design process
production requirements, and size, beyond a simple comparison of material
shape and complexity of parts. costs between FRP/Composites and

other candidates. Such considerations process. The designer who understands design may have had only one or
should include at least these items: the wide range of material and process two of these “basics” as its objective,
Tooling cost, including peripheral options will use this step to add a opportunities to reduce cost and
equipment such as cooling fixtures, great deal of value to the end product. improve product performance in
machining fixtures and Coincidentally, good choices here other areas are often brought to
will also minimize project risk and light by considering them all
assembly tools. cost during the development and once again.
Process capabilities compared with production cycles. The unique synergy
general fabrication and end-use of the FRP/Composite part design,
tolerancing. Tolerances outside materials and molding methods at
of normal process capabilities this point will effectively define the
add cost premium. product economics and performance
over the long term. The purpose of initial sketches is
Secondary operations, such as to help design engineers focus their
machining and assembling. basic concepts and to make these
Partnering with a molder and material
Finishing cost, such as trimming, suppliers throughout the design concepts consistent with end-use
sanding, polishing, plating process will reward the project engineer requirements. Keeping in mind the
and painting. regardless of his or her experience basic attributes of FRP/Composite
Other cost-producing operations level, but this step may represent the materials and processes help avoid
that require studying and comparing single most significant opportunity for producing a direct copy of a part as
include packaging, storing, quality optimizing performance and cost. it might be designed to suit the
control, inventory control and characteristics of metals or of
In many cases, material and process
shipping. Such a thorough economic involve a single selection. For unreinforced plastics. This is
evaluation of the proposed FRP/ example, if sheet molding compound is especially important if the other
chosen as the most suitable material, materials are highly cost-competitive
Composite application provides
compression molding is the logical and where the savings of a few
three valuable benefits:
process. In some cases, however, ounces of material per part can add
First, it presents a true picture up to a significant amount over a
of the total systems cost, making two or more processes are available,
even though definite reinforcement large production run.
subsequent design decisions
and resin selections have been
more cost effective. made. For instance, polyester bulk The designer must decide on an
Second, it reveals other cost-savings molding compound can be either approach that will produce a part
areas (such as parts consolidation) compression or injection molded. sufficiently strong to meet mechanical
that may not have been obvious In such a situation, other factors, requirements, with the chemical,
initially – savings that can be such as part configuration, fabrication thermal and electrical properties, as
designed into the product. and end-use tolerances, and production well as appearance qualities to meet
And third, it enables the designer to volume, may determine the specifications. Initial sketches are
determine exactly how much optimum process. necessary to perform stress analysis
performance is worth buying, and start the detail empirical design.
In all cases, cost/performance High-performance FRP/Composite
in keeping with present or evaluation should be the deciding
projected selling prices and products usually result from
factor. Cost of materials, tooling effective use of both disciplines,
other market considerations. and labor must all be considered validated with laboratory testing.
and measured against performance.
And each candidate production Stress analysis involves using
method must be considered to engineering equations for calculating
determine the best choice. stresses at critical areas, resulting in
With functional and economic
requirements established, the designer Finally, the basic advantages offered the determination of optimum
can now proceed to this most critical by FRP/Composites should be configuration and minimum part
stage of the FRP/Composite design reviewed. Although the initial thickness for those areas. Such

studies are often performed using the most efficient production flow particularly suited for producing
finite element analysis methods and concepts will form the basis for prototype parts economically.
special computer programs that near- and long-term economic benefits
during the production life cycle. The easiest prototypes to fabricate
eliminate the tedious manual
are those for applications involving
calculations. This design approach is
used for FRP parts where performance contact molding processes.
requirements are severe and where Such prototypes are readily checked
material cost considerations are against performance and dimensional
critical. Empirical design is based As detailed drawings are completed, requirements. They are then
on the designer’s familiarity with a final economic analysis should be adapted, or the mold is modified
FRP/Composite materials and prepared to confirm the preliminary and another prototype molded.
processes in related applications. economic study, to calculate investment The mold or the processing
Assumptions are made concerning and return on investment, and to technique is adjusted until a
part thickness, surface finish and establish the total delivered cost of satisfactory part is produced.
other features and characteristics, the FRP/Composite component. Through molding and testing a series
based on past experience with similar of prototypes and gradually refining the
A mock-up or simulation may be
parts plus all additional available design, the final configuration and
helpful to establish the technical
information. A preliminary cost dimensions are established. The
feasibility of the initial design concept.
estimate is usually made to determine process produces an FRP/Composite
This need not be an exact prototype or
whether the design approach meets part that provides the required
detailed replica of the part to be
all production requirements. function and uses the minimum
molded. An approximation can aid
visualization of the finished FRP/ material commensurate with design
Composite part and its relationship objectives of strength, dimensional
to parts associated with it in the stability and surface finish.
In committing the design to final product. In addition, a mock-up
production drawings, many details helps visualize possible problems
must be considered and resolved. involving tooling, assembly, inspection
As elsewhere in the design effort, or handling. Correcting such problems As the prototypes undergo final
consulting with a reliable custom at this stage is much less expensive refinements to meet design objectives,
molder at this point is a wise move than later in the production program. the tooling is completed and the
for advice concerning design design is ready for pilot production.
details, such as radii, holes, inserts, Provisions for heating or cooling
ribs, bosses, as well as for guidance are added, and surface finishes are
on surface finish, molded-in color,
reduced stress concentration, and applied to facilitate part release.
other features and refinements. A working prototype – one that closely Duplicate tools may be built if
This is also a critical point to consider duplicates the expected final design production volume dictates.
current design and manufacturing in configuration and performance – is During tool tryout runs, it is
methods such as: the next step. The best FRP/ important to control closely the
Composite prototype is one produced variables of temperature, pressure
Design for Six Sigma from partially completed production
Design for Manufacturability and cycle times so the parts produced
molds because it will be almost can be evaluated in terms of end-use
Lean Manufacturing identical to a production part. This objectives. Such control is also
Collaboration with a custom molder to may be facilitated with the help of necessary to ensure reproducibility
optimize tolerances for cost and molders that are skilled in low-volume of production run parts.
performance and to help develop FRP/Composite processes that are

•How Reinforcing Systems Compare in Compression-Molded FRP Parts
Characteristic Preform SMC BMC
or Property

Part Best for uniform wall components Best for complex configurations. Best for moderate-sized (1-2’),
Complexity, with deep-drawn shapes. Parts can be Bosses and ribs are easily formed bulky, thick-walled parts with
Wall several feet long or in diameter. because the compound flows during complex configurations such as
Thickness molding. Parts can be several feet ribs and bosses.
long or wide.

Strength Highest strength of the resin/fiber Moderate strength, which can be Least strong of the choices;
systems. Reinforcing fibers do not increased with higher glass content – to relatively poor strength
flow during molding but maintain as much as 65 percent for structural uniformity because reinforcing
their random orientation. Properties parts. Nonuniformity of properties fibers become oriented during
are isotropic in plane of part walls. is a function of composite flow molding as the material flows.
during molding.

Surface Finish Glass pattern can be minimized with Very smooth surfaces are possible, Very smooth surfaces are
use of fillers such as calcium requiring minimal secondary possible, similar to those
carbonate and surfacing veils (to operations to produce Class A of SMC parts, but usually
provide resin richness at the surface). automotive-type finishes. with a higher degree of
Class A automotive surfaces can be However, large parts often have long-term waviness.
achieved with no long-term waviness. long-term waviness.

Molding Typically molded at 200 - 500 psi, Requires up to 1000 psi for molding, Requires 800 to 1500 psi, high
Characteristics lower cost tools acceptable, usually excellent quality tooling and presses quality tooling essential, can be
requires more work than SMC to trim required, in-mold coating possible, injection molded, minimal flash
flash and finish parting line. Can be minimal flash and part line finishing and part line finishing necessary.
in-mold coated. necessary.

Part Size Good process for medium to very Good application for medium to large Small but heavy parts; not
large parts; excellent application for parts; part size limited by available well-suited for deep drawn parts.
large vertical walls and deep draws. molding pressure. Not recommended
for deep drawn parts.
Typical Deep tub or boxlike shapes such as Complex ribbed parts such as Blocky electrical insulators,
Applications housings for industrial electrical automobile front-end panels, under-hood automotive
equipment; large, smooth components business-machine housing, components.
such as automobile hoods and truck roofs. instrument bases.

Design Details
Compression Molding
Sheet Bulk Resin Spray-Up
Molding Molding Molding Transfer Cold Press & Hand
Compound Compound Molding Molding Lay-Up
Minimum Inside 1/ 1/ 1/ 1/ 1/ 1/
Radius, in. 8 16 16 4 4 4

Molded-in holes yes* yes* yes* no no no

Trimmed-In Mold yes yes yes no no no

Core Pull & Sides no yes yes no no no

Undercuts no yes yes** yes** no yes**

Minimum Recommended 1/4 in. to 6 in. depth: 2 o
to 3 o 2o 2o 1o
Draft (no in-mold coating ) 6 in. depth and over: 3 o
or as required 3o 3o
Minimum Recommended
4 o or as required not applicable
Draft (in-mold coating ) 4 oor as required not applicable
Minimum Practical
Thickness, in. 0.045 0.080 0.060 0.080*** 0.080 0.060
Maximum Practical
1/ 1/ 1 1/ 1/ no limit
Thickness, in. 4 2 2 2
Normal Thickness
Variation, in. ± 0.010 ± 0.010 ± 0.010 ± 0.020 ± 0.020 ± 0.030
Maximum Thickness
Build-Up, Heavy Build-Up 2-to-1 as as 2-to-1 2-to-1 as
and Increased Cycle max. required required max. max. required
Corrugated Sections yes yes yes yes yes yes
Metal Inserts
recommended yes yes no no yes
Bosses not not
no yes yes recommended recommended yes

Ribs not not not
recommended yes yes recommended recommended yes

Molded-In Labels yes yes yes yes yes yes

Raised Numbers
yes yes yes yes yes yes
Finished Surfaces
(Reproduces Mold Surface) two two two two two one
* Parallel or perpendicular to ram action only. *** Can be 0.060 in. if glass content is less than 20 percent.
** With slides in tooling or split mold.

Property Comparisons of Fiberglass/Composites and Alternative Materials

Property Glass Specific Density Tensile Tensile Elon- Flexural Flexural Compress. Impact Flamma- Specific Thermal Heat Thermal Dielectric Water Mold
Fiber Gravity Strength Modulus gation Strength Modulus Strength Strength, bility Heat Coeff. of Distort. Conduc- Strength Absorption Shrinkage

10-6 o % in
% lb./in.3 103 psi 106 psi % 103 psi 106 psi 103 psi ft. lb./in. BTU/ F at BTU/hr./ in./in.
Units in./in. oF V/mil. 24 hr.
of Notch lb. oF 264 psi ft.2/oF/in.
ATM Test Method D790 D792 D638 D638 D638 D790 D695 D256 UL-94 D696 D648 C177 D149 D570 D955
Fiberglass Reinforced
Polyester preform, low profile 24 1.74 0.063 11.5 1.70 2.5 28.5 1.32 20.0 20.8 * 0.30 14.0 400+ 1.3 400 .8 0.000
(Compression) general purpose 25 1.55 0.056 13.5 1.80 2.5 27.0 1.10 25.0 18.0 * 0.30 14.0 350+ 1.5 400 .25 0.001
high glass 40 1.70 0.061 21.5 2.25 2.5 38.5 1.50 32.0 23.0 * 0.30 14.0 400+ 1.5 400 .4 0.0005
Carbon/Epoxy Fabric 23.0 2.10 1.0 25.0 2.00 * N/A
Polyester SMC LP low profile 30 1.85 0.067 12.0 1.70 <1.0 26.0 1.60 24.0 16.0 * 0.30 12.0 400+ 1.5 400 .2 0.001
(Compression) general purpose 22 1.78 0.064 10.5 1.70 0.4 21.2 1.40 23.0 12.0 * 0.30 12.0 350+ 1.5 400 .2 0.001
high glass 50 2.00 0.072 23.0 2.27 1.7 45.0 2.00 32.0 19.4 * 0.30 15.0 500 1.5 375 .5 0.0005
Carbon/Vinyl Ester 1.50 22.0 6.0 0.4 71.0 4.00 * N/A .13
Polyester BMC (compression) 22 1.82 0.066 6.0 1.75 <0.5 12.8 1.58 20.0 4.3 * 0.30 8.0 500 1.5 200 .5 0.001
Polyester BMC (injection) 22 1.82 0.066 4.9 1.53 <0.5 12.7 1.44 — 2.9 * 0.28 4.0 — 1.5 250 .5 —
Polyester (pultruded) 55 1.69 0.061 30.0 2.50 — 30.0 1.60 30.0 25.0 * 0.31 — 400+ 1.50 350 .5 0.003
Polyester (spray-up, lay-up) 30 1.37 0.049 12.5 1.00 1.3 28.0 0.75 22.0 14.0 * — — 400+ — 300 .5 0.002
Polyester woven roving (lay-up) 50 1.64 0.059 37.0 2.25 1.6 46.0 2.25 27.0 33.0 V-0 0.23 400+ 1.92 — 0.50 0.008
Epoxy (filament wound) 80 2.08 0.075 80.0 4.00 1.6 100.0 5.00 45.0 45.0 V-0 — — — — — —
— — — — —
Polyurethane, milled fibers (RRIM) 13 1.07 0.039 2.8 — 140.0 — 0.05 — — V-0
glass flake (RRIM) 23 1.17 0.042 4.4 –– 38.9 –– 0.15 –– 2.1 –– ––
Fiberglass Reinforced
ABS 20 1.22 0.044 11.0 0.90 2.0 15.5 0.87 14.0 1.4 HB — 21.0 220 1.4 465 0.14 0.002
Acetal 25 1.61 0.058 18.5 1.25 3.0 28.0 1.10 17.0 1.8 HB — 47.0 325 — 580 0.29 0.004
Nylon 6 30 1.37 0.049 23.0 1.05 3.0 29.0 1.20 24.0 2.3 HB — 17.0 420 5.8-11.4 500 1.10 0.004
Nylon 6/6 30 1.48 0.053 26.0 1.20 1.9 35.0 1.30 26.5 2.0 HB 0.30 13.0 480 1.5 400 0.90 0.002
Polycarbonate 10 1.26 0.045 12.0 0.75 9.0 16.0 0.60 14.0 3.7 V-1 0.29 18.0 300 4.6 500 0.14 0.001
Polyester (PBT) 30 1.52 0.055 19.0 1.20 4.0 28.0 1.40 18.0 1.8 HB 0.11 12.0 430 7.0 375 0.06 0.003
Polyester (PET) 30 1.56 0.056 21.0 1.30 6.6 32.0 1.42 25.0 1.8 HB — 17.0 420 6.5 520 0.05 0.003
Polyphenylene ether (PPO) 20 1.21 0.044 14.5 0.92 5.0 18.5 0.75 17.6 1.7 HB 0.30 20.0 310 3.8 500 0.06 0.003
Polyphenylene sulfid9 40 1.64 0.059 22.0 2.05 3.0 37.0 1.90 21.0 1.5 V-0/5V 0.25 11.0 510 2.0 380 0.01 0.002
Polypropylene 20 1.04 0.037 6.5 0.54 3.0 8.3 0.52 25.0 3.0 HB — 24.0 295 8.4 440 0.03 0.003
SAN 20 1.22 0.044 14.5 1.25 1.8 19.0 1.10 17.5 1.0 HB — 21.0 215 2.8 490 0.10 0.002
*Polyester thermosets can be formulated to meet a wide range of flame smoke and toxicity specifications.
Property Comparisons of Fiberglass/Composites and Alternative Materials
Specific Impact Thermal Heat Thermal
Density Tensile Tensile Elon- Flexural Flexural Compress. Strength, Hardness Flammability Specific Coeff. of Deflect. Conduc- Dielectric Water Mold
Property Gravity Strength Modulus gation Strength Modulus Strength Heat Strength Absorption Shrinkage
Izod Expansion Temp. tivity
Rockwell o
Units lb./in.3 103 psi 106 psi % 103 psi 106 psi 103 psi BTU/ 10-6 F at BTU ft./ % in in./in.
ft. lb./in. Except V/mil.
of Notch as Noted lb. oF in./in. oF 264 psi hr. ft.2 oF 24 hr.

ASTM Test Method D792 D638 D638 D638 D790 D790 D695 D256 D785 UL-94 D696 D648 C177 D149 D570 D955


ABS 1.05 0.036 6.0 0.30 5.0 11.0 0.32 10.0 4.4 R107-115 HB — 53.0 195 0.96 350-500 0.30 0.006
Acetal 1.42 0.050 8.8 0.41 40.0 13.0 0.40 16.0 1.3 M78-80 HB 0.35 45.0 230 1.56 500 0.22 0.020
Nylon 6 1.14 0.041 11.8 0.38 38.0 15.7 0.40 13.0 1.0 R119 HB 0.40 46.0 167 1.20 305 1.80 0.016
Nylon 6/6 1.13 0.041 11.8 0.40 60.0 17.0 0.41 15.0 0.9 R120 V-2 0.30 45.0 170 1.70 385 1.50 0.016
Polycarbonate 1.14 0.041 9.0 0.34 110.0 13.5 0.33 12.5 12.0 M70 V-2 0.30 37.0 265 1.35 380 0.15 0.006
Polyester (PBT) 1.31 0.047 8.5 0.28 50.0 12.0 0.34 8.6 1.2 M68-78 HB — 53.0 130 1.02-1.67 420-550 0.08 0.020
Polyester (PET) 1.34 0.048 8.5 0.40 50.0 14.0 0.40 11.0 0.7 M94-101 HB 0.34 — 100 0.87 — 0.15 0.020
Polyphenylene ether (PPO) 1.06 0.038 9.5 0.38 50.0 12.8 0.36 12.0 5.0 R115 V-1 0.2-0.4 33.0 265 0.92 400 0.07 0.005
Polyphenylene sulfide 1.30 0.047 9.5 0.48 1.0 14.0 0.55 16.0 <0.5 R123 V-0 — — 275 1.67 380 <0.02 0.007
Polypropylene 0.89 0.032 5.0 0.10 200.0 5.0 0.18 3.5 0.5-2.2 R50-96 HB 0.45 40.0 135 1.21 600 0.01 0.018
SAN 1.08 0.039 9.8 0.40 0.5 14.0 0.50 14.0 0.4 M80-85 HB 0.33 34.0 200 0.70 515 0.25 0.005

AISI 1008 cold-rolled steel 7.86 0.284 48.0 30.0 37.0 — — 48.0 — B34-52 — 0.10 6.7 — 35.0 — — —
ASTM A-606 HSLA cold-rolled steel 7.75 0.280 65.0 30.0 22.0 — — 65.0 — B80 — 0.11 6.8 — 25.0 — — —
AISI 304 stainless steel 8.03 0.290 80.0 28.0 40.0 — — 80.0 — B88 — 0.12 9.6 — 9.4 — — —
2036-T4 wrought aluminum 2.74 0.099 49.0 10.2 23.0 — — 49.0 — R80 — 0.21 13.9 — 92.0 — — —
ASTM B85 die-cast aluminum 2.82 0.102 48.0 10.3 2.5 — — 48.0 — Bhn 85 — — 11.6 — 53.0 — — —
ASTM AZ91B die-cast magnesium 1.83 0.066 33.0 65.0 3.0 — — 33.0 — Bhn 85 — 0.25 14.0 — 41.8 — — —
ASTM AG40A die-cast zinc 6.59 0.238 41.0 10.9 10.0 — — 41.0 — Bhn 82 — 0.10 15.2 — 65.3 — — —

Chemical Properties of Fiberglass Composites and Alternative Materials
Polyester thermosets are available in many formulations. Polypropylene provides excellent resistance to acids,
They can be formulated for good to excellent resistance to alkalies and organic solvents, even at higher temperatures,
acids, weak alkalies and organic solvents. However, but is soluble in chlorinated hydrocarbons.
they are not recommended for use with strong alkalies.
Polyphenylene sulfide provides outstanding resistance
Epoxies are highly resistant to water, alkalies and
to most chemicals over a wide temperature range to
organic solvents. Although standard epoxies have
only fair resistance to acids and oxidizing agents, they 375oF. It is unaffected by strong alkalies or aqueous
can be formulated for better resistance to these organic salt solutions.
chemicals. Polystyrene has good resistance to alkalies, most
Polyurethane moldings are normally used for their organic solvents, weak acids and household chemicals.
toughness and structural properties. They are highly It is not recommended for use with strong acids,
resistant to most organic solvents but are not ketones, esters or chlorinated hydrocarbons.
recommended for use with strong acids or alkalies,
steam, fuels or ketones. Cold-rolled carbon steels are rusted by water, oxygen
and salt solutions. Resistance to alkalies is good, but
ABS provides good resistance to most organic they should not be used with acids.
solvents and is highly resistant to weak acids and
alkalies. It is attacked by sulfuric and nitric acids and is Stainless steels have good resistance to alkalies and
soluble in esters, ketones and ethylene dichloride. organic solvents. However, resistance to acids (especially
Acetal is highly resistant to strong alkalies and can be hydrochloric and sulfuric) and chloride solutions is poor.
continuously in hot water. Properties are affected only Aluminum has poor resistance to acids (especially
slightly by most organic solvents. It is not recommended hydrochloric and sulfuric) and chloride salts. It forms a
for use in strong acids. hard oxide coating when exposed to air and requires a
Nylons are inert to most organic solvents. They resist surface treatment for appearance when exposed to
alkalies and salt solutions but are attacked by strong weather.
mineral acids and oxidizing agents. Because the resins
are hygroscopic, dimensional stability suffers. Magnesium has poor resistance to salt spray, industrial
atmospheres and acids except hydrofluoric. However,
Polyphenylene ether/oxide (PPO) provides resistance to alkalies is good.
excellent resistance to aqueous media but is softened
by aromatic hydrocarbons. Dimensional stability over Zinc offers good atmospheric resistance but is not
a wide temperature range is excellent. recommended for use with strong acids, bases or steam.
Polycarbonates resist weak acids and alkalies, oil and
grease. They are attacked by strong acids, alkalies,
organic solvents and fuels.

Thermoplastic polyesters resist most organic
solvents, weak acids and weak alkalies but are not
recommended for use in strong acids and alkalies or
for prolonged use in hot water.

These data are given only to suggest general property ranges of various materials for comparison.
They do not reflect exact properties of any given molded or machined part.