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Last edited 07 Jan 2021
Glass is a material made from liquid sand. Silicate glass is the most common form, which consists mainly of silica or silicon dioxide, SiO2. Impurities or additional elements and compounds added to the silicate to change the color and other properties of the glass.
Glass fibre (US spelling ‘glass fiber’) is a material comprising silica-based or other composition glass which after heating is extruded into fine, small-diameter strands. It was first produced commercially at the Owens-Illinois Glass Company (later Owens Corning) in Ohio, US, in 1936.
The types of glass used for the manufacture of glass fibre are usually denoted by a single letter: E-glass is the most common type and comprises alumino-borosilicate glass; less common are A-glass, ECR glass, C-glass, and D-glass, with the prefix letter denoting some quality or chemical constituent of the glass, so ECR stands for Electrical/Chemical Resistance. Pure silica can also be used but has the disadvantage that it must be heated to high temperatures.
Glass fibre is commonly used to make mats and fabrics for thermal, electrical and sound insulation. It can also go to make fabrics that are heat- and corrosion resistant. It acts as a reinforcing agent for products such as bows and arrows, crossbows, vaulting poles, car bodies and boat hulls.
Other construction uses of glass fibre include:
- As reinforcing fibre in sprayed concrete
- For translucent roof panels
- As reinforced polymer rebar in place of steel
- As a component in glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) – plastic that is reinforced with glass fibres to produce a composite material that is sometimes called ‘fibreglass’
- As a component in ‘paper honeycomb’ used as a core in lightweight domestic doors
- As a waterproofing, crack-resistant mat for use with asphalt, and
- In tanks, planters and linings.
- As a woven fabric (typically coated with PTFE) for the construction of fabric structures. For more information see: Fabric structures.
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