Fiber Bloom and Pultruded Products

When it comes to workplace safety with harsh environments, having durable grating structures and materials can be a challenging task. At risk are two key elements: the safety of workers and the performance of the materials used in your grating. Metal grate structures have long been the standard since the dawn of the industrial age but they suffer from some serious shortcomings.

With advancements in science over the last few decades, many alternatives to metal grate structures and building materials have surfaced; the most promising and most popular being fiberglass reinforced plastic grating, commonly known as FRP grating.

With the distinction of being as strong as steel, versatile among structures of any size and resistant to the harshest environments and chemicals, FRP grating products have long proven to have significant advantages over steel. With any product however, the key to the integrity of the material is in the manufacturing process; as with steel structures, there can be deviations and defects in some cases.

While FRP grating is incredibly durable and strong, even against the harshest variables, it can still have some minor issues if not manufactured or maintained properly. One of the most common issues that can arise in FRP grating structures and materials is a term known as “fiber blooming.”  This is why when choosing a FRP manufacturer, you choose a qualified company like DEFI to get the absolute highest standards in FRP production and mitigate your risk of fiber blooms.

WHAT IS FRP?

In order to even begin to understand what fiber blooming is, you must first understand what FRP grating is, and what it is commonly used for. FRP is a broad term for a stable of versatile fiber reinforced plastic resin material.  The composites that makeup FRP grating are extremely resistant to corrosion and harsh chemicals or saltwater. First introduced to the industrial world in the 1930’s FRP has become a staple in structural design, especially in marine and offshore oil structures. Since this material stands up to the harshest environments it is useful in just about any industry or environment.

What Is FRP Made Of?
FRP’s unique corrosion resistance comes from the unique composition and design of FRP. In a nutshell, FRP is a resin with a thermoset plastic that starts out as a liquid polymer and is then poured into molds that bond around glass fibers making it very strong. Once solid, this material can then be melted and reshaped to fit any application imagined.

BENEFITS OF FRP GRATING

Given the unique characteristics of FRP, it sets itself apart from other industrial building materials. Possessing the impressive qualities it does, it’s obvious that FRP grating comes with many significant benefits, some of which include:

  • Durable Strength: FRP is ideal for creating heavy duty components that have immense strength. The materials can be designed to provide tensile, impact, flexural and even compressive iterations of strength. The FRP material can be custom designed to reinforcement strengths that are application specific as well.
  • Shatter Resistant: FRP is very rigid, doesn’t easily dent, and can absorb an enormous amount of impact. This makes it perfect for industrial situations where metal or aluminum grating may bend or dent. FRP can be made even stronger by adding directional fiber components for a more reinforced product.
  • Non-Slip: Fall hazards are one of the most common risks in the industrial workplace and commercial properties worldwide. FRP is incredibly slip resistant and, during the manufacture process, can have texture added to further prevent slips. This is especially useful in marine, offshore and waterpark applications.
  • Resists Corrosion: Most metals corrode or rust over time when exposed to moisture, saltwater, or harsh chemicals. FRP is unaffected by all of these elements, once again making it a long-term durable solution for many offshore and chemical plant applications.
  • Thermal Resistant: FRP grates can be modified for use in workplaces where the temperature exceeds 130° or changes drastically from extremely cold to extremely hot temperatures.
  • Light:  While FRP is as durable as metal materials, it remains incredibly light and weighs only two-thirds the weight of steel. Since it delivers more strength per actual unit than other materials, this reduction in weight comes without sacrificing strength.
  • Long Service Life: No matter the paces FRP is put through, it will last for decades. Many manufacturers are so confident in the lifecycle of FRP that they warranty their products for over 20 years.  When you compare to steel, FRP is a better long-term solution since it can last up to ten years longer than steel.

The list goes on and on when it comes to the benefits of FRP grating.  That being said, FRP is not without potential defects in manufacturing and some minor issues in certain conditions. This is why where you buy your FRP materials is just as important as the material itself.

FIBER BLOOMING

As FRP is made with a combination of delicate glass fibers with plastic and resin, there is a minor issue that can arise in some environments such as waterparks, marine and other outdoor applications known as fiber bloom. Fiber bloom is where the constant exposure to UV rays of the sun weakens the fibrous traits of the FRP material and expose said fibers. In a best case scenario, blooming only affects aesthetically and makes the surface somewhat uncomfortable to handle. However, in some situations, the non-conductive nature of FRP can be compromised and pose an electrical shock risk.

Proper FRP Maintenance

It is possible to mitigate degradation of FRP products with constant outdoor exposure by simply keeping it clean. Yes, that’s all there is to caring for FRP grating and other structural products. Not only does cleaning your FRP surfaces down regularly make them look good; it also helps to remove grease, abrasives, oil and any chemicals spilt on the surface.  This helps mitigate slip hazards, helps prevent the surface from weathering, and also helps the FRP structure retain the non-conductive nature it is known for.

GET THE BEST FRP PRODUCTS IN THE INDUSTRY

In many applications, fiber blooming never occurs, especially if there is no exposure to UV light. Even if it does, it is typically a minor issue that may possibly arise, especially in waterparks and marine applications. To give your FRP structure the longest life possible, it is important that you get your FRP grating from DEFI. We offer the industry’s most comprehensive, stocked product line that encompasses industries such as offshore platforms, waterparks, chemical plants, and everything in between. Contact us today and let us show you what DEFI can do for your company.

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