History of FRP

Fibre reinforced polymers (FRP) are a form of composite material used to make advanced composite materials.  A composite material is when you combine two or more materials together to take advantage of their unique strengths to overcome their individual weakness. The first use of composite materials dates back to 1500BC where early Egyptians and Mesopotamian settlers used a mixture of mud and straw to create strong buildings. Straw continued to be used as fibre reinforcement in other products such as pottery and boats. Over the years, composite materials developed from just straw and mud to wood, plant fibres and animal or plant glue to bind it all together to make tools and weaponry.

In the 1900’s, the birth of modern resins was born when scientists discovered plastics and the new synthetic resins outperformed resins and materials derived from nature. However, plastics alone could not provide enough strength for some of the engineering requirements of advancing technology. It wasn’t until 1935 when Owens Corning introduced the first glass fibre, combined with modern synthetic polymer resins, that Glass Fibre Reinforced Polymers (GFRP) were born.

The beginning of the FRP industry was just in time for World War II, which accelerated the use and advancement of FRPs. By the end of the war, the composite industry was in full swing

– with boats, planes and cars making the most of this lightweight, high strength material. This industry has constantly evolved and material properties have increased, resulting in new markets and developments.

One of these is the construction industry in which FRP has been used to strengthen existing buildings, using wrapping technology. However, there is a move to reinforcing concrete with FRP bars as we are becoming increasingly aware of the limitations around traditional steel reinforcement. These limitations vary by industry to industry – with corrosion, electromagnetic interference, weight and cuttability all being issues, with the biggest being around corrosion in steel reinforced cement concrete (RCC) construction.

It is only recently that the severity of the corrosion issue in concrete structures has become noticed – as structures are hitting their service life quicker than their anticipated design life, due to the deterioration of the steel reinforcement inside the concrete. This is leading to numerous marine structures and bridges needing to undergo severe refurbishment or complete rebuilding. With this in mind, governments and consultants are looking at alternative ways to increase the service and design life by using GFRP for concrete reinforcement.

Lower life cycle cost

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