Pools, tubs, ductwork and pipes: All of these are but parts of our homes that are made from fiberglass reinforced polymers and fiberglass reinforced plastics (FRPs); and, if you work at an industry or on a farm, chances are that holding or chemical tanks or other products made from fiberglass reinforced polymers and plastics surround you as well.
Though you may be unaware, chances are that, because of such products, your life has been a part of Custom Fiberglass Incorporated’s livelihood over the past 42 years, too.
From construction companies that build homes and apartment complexes to industries building products that must comply with the latest federal regulations, many a business has summoned Custom Fiberglass Inc., based in Minden, Louisiana, to design, manufacture, fabricate and install FRP products and dual laminate process equipment for their projects. Whether it’s to solve a sudden construction project problem or building custom-made pipes or materials for some other contractor, key personnel within CFI have amassed a combined, 110-plus-years of experience to serve other companies and industries whenever they call.
CFI customers seeking the company’s products from fiberglass reinforced polymers and fiberglass reinforced plastics products also cross a wide range. They include the many plants that work in the chemical processing, water and wastewater industries and the many fields from which farm and oil production arise.
What Are Fiberglass Reinforced Polymers and Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics?
Fiberglass reinforced polymers and fiberglass reinforced plastics, or FRPs as they’re commonly known in the industry, are composite materials that are made of a polymer matrix reinforced with such fibers as aramid, basalt, carbon and glass. The most widely used of those fibers would become glass — Custom Fiberglass Incorporated’s specialty, obviously — because of its lower cost than the other fibers and its excellent mechanical properties.
Fiberglass was discovered in 1932 by a researcher at Owens-Illinois — rather infamously at the time. A worker was trying to weld two glass blocks together to form an airtight seal when, unexpectedly, a jet of compressed air hit a stream of the molten glass and created a shower of glass fibers.
Owens-Illinois would join with the Corning company a couple of years later, and in 1936, the resulting Owens-Corning Company developed the first fiberglass patent. Shortly, research turned to developing the fibers into a cloth-like material to use in insulation and other products. Uses for the material began to grow rapidly, including airplanes that were built for duty during World War II, and then stretched into the realm of fiberglass reinforced polymers and fiberglass reinforced plastics.
What Does Custom Fiberglass Do With Fiberglass Reinforced Polymers and Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics?
Experiencing steady growth since its founding in 1975, Custom Fiberglass Inc. has particularly enjoyed breakthroughs in its operations and production efficiency in recent years. As a result, it has expanded the products and services it offers, and it’s doing so with increased quality control.
Its products and services have grown to now include these:
Dual Laminate Pipe and Equipment Made of Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics.
CFI’s dual-laminates division has been particularly busy in recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of products in this market, including dual laminate pipe. Dual-laminate construction combines the primary corrosion barrier of a thermoplastic lining with the structural advantages that fiberglass reinforced plastics (FRPs) provide.
Products from such construction, including dual laminate pipe, are used when operational service requirements exceed the limits of straight FRP and steel. Low maintenance and design flexibility ensure that dual laminates are the preferred choice for harsh-environment applications, including those in which dual laminate pipe often resides.
Pipe is among many pieces of equipment used today because of double-laminate’s ability to handle various types of corrosive and high-purity liquids and gases, according to the Dual Laminate Fabrication Association.
The DFLA is a nonprofit organization established in 1993 to create a forum for engineers to promote the use of dual laminate equipment, including double laminate pipe. DLFA members collaborate to bring design engineers the information and standards that make it easier to determine when dual laminate pipe and equipment should be used in a project.
In addition to dual laminate pipe, fabricated in such a manner are tanks, fittings, scrubbers and various other types of process equipment. The double-laminate process has been found to provide a cost-effective, long-term solution to corrosive liquids and gases when compared to other materials, such as high nickel alloys, the DFLA says.
Other advantages that double laminate products, including pipe, bring to a project include: lighter weight, longer service life, reduced downtime, increased productivity, both interior and exterior corrosion resistance, no geometric restrictions, no size restrictions and secondary corrosion protection.
How are dual laminate pipe and other products manufactured?
The thermoplastic linings that are used in dual laminate construction, including dual laminate pipe, are manufactured in roll or sheet form. Lining is formed and welded before it’s integrated with the FRP structure. (Types of welding used are hot-gas hand welding, flow-fusion machine welding and butt-fusion machine welding, according to the DFLA.) The thermoplastic lining is then is internally supported and the FRP is chemically or mechanically bonded to the lining.
A conductive carbon veil layer is integrated into the FRP corrosion barrier to make high voltage spark testing of the lining easier. The conductive target , the DFLA says, should cover 100 percent of the lining.
Industries that use dual-laminate pipe and other double-laminate products include chemical processing, energy, mining, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, pollution control, power, pulp and paper, and semiconductors.
Custom Fiberglass Inc., as with similar companies, adheres to standards set forth by The American Society of Mechanical Engineers when it makes double laminate pipe and other equipment. Dual laminates are applicable to several ASME codes and standards that are related to both fiberglass reinforced plastics vessel design and FRP fabrication.
CFI has been manufacturing dual laminate products, including double laminate pipe, for more than 20 years. The types of thermoplastic linings that CFI uses in its products include: Kynar, poly vinyl chloride, Halar, polypropylene, high density polyethylene, Teflon and chlorinated polyvinyl chloride.
FRP Tanks and Vessels Made of Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics.
CFI has been producing high-quality FRP tanks and vessels since its founding. Its specialty is chemical storage and processing tanks and vessels, but it can produce general-purpose storage tanks as well. Its personnel can fabricate tanks from 2 to 8 feet in diameter and up to 30 feet side-wall height, and the vessels can withstand full vacuum up to 100 pounds per square inch in pressure. All tanks come with a 1-year warranty for manufacturing defects — but potential customers need not worry, because many of CFI’s custom-made tanks have operated continuously for more than 20 years
FRP Pipe and Duct Made of Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics.
As with tanks and other vessels, CFI will produce FRP pipe to any dimensions specified. Its pipe and duct offerings and services include: full vacuum and pressure service, filament wound or hand lay-up, various pipe lengths, a full range of pipe fittings and connections, standard materials of custom resin formulation for abrasive and corrosive applications, round or rectangular duct, and full design and engineering support
Custom Enclosures Made of Fiberglass Reinforced Plastics.
With the popularity of the Green Movement has come a wave of regulations requiring containment of equipment and fluids. CFI has diversified its offerings to include products that meet this demand. Soon, CFI will offer standard sizes for enclosures and housings, as well as custom fabrication for them.
CFI uses the tried and true hand lay-up method of fabrication to produce products that are made of fiberglass reinforced polymers and fiberglass reinforced plastics — in all shapes and sizes. It has supplied tanks, piping, ducts, cooling towers, scrubbers, heat exchangers and many other custom products for many an industrial environment.