Fibre-reinforced plastics, also called fibre-composites, are most notably characterised by one key factor: A “one and only” raw material does not exist.
Fibre composites always comprise a combination of different ingredients. The most important components are the fibres, the matrix, and various chemical additives. The fibres are integrated into the matrix material – which then encloses each fibre and holds it in the component – through different processes. The additives can influence the reaction to fire, the component costs etc., and can even serve as reaction accelerator in a plastic matrix.
Different fibres can be used for the production of a fibre-composite component. Glass, carbon, natural, basalt, polymer, and metal fibres are the most important ones. Glass-fibre reinforced plastics (GRP) make up the largest market segment with more than 90 percent. The by now probably most widely known product group CRP (carbon-fibre reinforced plastics) only has a market share of 1 percent. Fassmer primarily uses polyester, vinyl ester, and epoxy resin matrix systems.
Glass-fibre reinforced plastics are a lot more cost-efficient than carbon or aramid fibres, but at the same time of high quality.
Glass fibres are the material most commonly used in fibre-plastic composites, because processing it is especially uncomplicated, and it is explicitly suited for applications with a high level of mechanic stress. GRP is a popular material due to its outstanding material characteristics such as its exceptional strength, stability, and corrosion resistance, with a remarkably light weight at the same time.
When high strength and low weight are required, carbon-fibre reinforced plastics (CRP) or aramid are the best choice.
The fibre-composite material CRP embeds carbon fibres into a plastic matrix, usually epoxy resin. The mechanical characteristics of the hardened composite material show exceptional tensile strength and stiffness. The matrix prevents fibre movement under load.