Fiberglass Buildings | Evolution of Composite Materials
In an earlier post, we announced that Shelter Works, the manufacturer of advanced fiberglass buildings published an eBook that is helpful in customizing composite buildings. One section of the eBook discusses the evolution of composites. From ancient civilizations to present day polymer science, composites play a fundamental role in protecting equipment, property, and people.
Composite construction materials are made up of many different constituents. It is very common in our industry to use composites for shelters, enclosures and buildings. We use composites because they are stronger, more aesthetically pleasing for long-term use and are environmentally sustainable.
A composite is synergistic, that is, its strength exceeds the sum of its parts. Apparently, the use of composites dates back to ancient Mesopotamia in 3400 BC when the Sumerians used wood strips glued together at different angles to create plywood, therefore making it stronger than either of its components. In 1500 BC, the Egyptians used a straw to reinforce mud bricks. Today, fiberglass composite is the modern-day equivalent of the same concept the ancient civilizations introduced so long ago.
Today’s version, however, has evolved into multiple layers to introduce a product that is stronger, lighter, more appealing, and environmentally justifiable. According to the Shelter Works eBook, there are at least seven core components in the construction of a composite fiberglass building:
- A polymer matrix or resin “holds” the fiberglass reinforcing material
- Fiberglass strengthens the structure while permitting lightweight construction
- Gel coats for aesthetic and protective purposes
- Insulating materials to better regulate atmospheric temperatures around the equipment
- Structural reinforcements may be added to increase usage of the shelter
- Fire retardant materials can be added to adjust for necessary fire ratings
- Additional componentry may be added to customize and optimize for usage
- When building a fiberglass shelter, each of these elements may be varied to accommodate the particular application or desired outcome.