A: FRP can last a very long time due to its corrosion resistance and UV stability. So, one can expect FRP products to last at least 20-25 years.
When it comes to structural building materials that last, streel has long held a position at the top of the industry. This is for good reason too—steel is durable, very rigid, and is industrial strength. However, with the current trade war with China, steel prices are skyrocketing.
This sharp rise in the price of steel is making the best alternative to steel look even more attractive. Many people might not realize, but Fiber Reinforced Plastic (FRP) is equally strong as steel in most applications.
In fact, in some cases, FRP even has many advantages over more traditional materials such as steel. With the current trade war affecting US manufacturing, companies are seeking ways to run leaner. FRP is the perfect long game solution for many industries.
In order to really understand the benefits of FRP and truly appreciate it—one must know the history of FRP. The fact is, that while FRP has flown pretty much under the radar for a while, the concept of FRP has been around for decades.
THE HISTORY OF FRP
Bakelite was the first fiber-reinforced plastic and it was created by happenstance. Leo Baekeland, who is is known as “The Father of The Plastic Industry,” was trying to find a synthetic replacement for shellac. Shellac is a natural-based resin that is created from the excretions of lac bugs, a relatively obscure arthropod.
Baekeland and fellow chemists discovered that many naturally occurring resins and fibers were polymers. This led Baekeland to experiment with the reactions between phenol and formaldehyde.
On his first attempt at a phenol-formaldehyde resin, he was met with the agony of failure. “Novolak,” as Baekeland dubbed it, was a market dud. However, he pressed on and after working to develop a binding agent for asbestos instead of rubber. With this hard work, he ended up creating the world’s first synthetic plastic, the aforementioned Bakelite. It was created by manipulating the pressure and temperature applied to the phenol and formaldehyde. In 1909 at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, he introduced his game-changing plastic.
Because Of An Accident, We Have FRP
Mass production of glass strands was made possible when the process was accidentally discovered in 1932. Games Slayter at packaging and glass manufacturer, Owens-Illinois, accidentally aimed a jet of compressed air at molten glass. The air ended up creating a chaotic mess of glass fibers.
This method would be pending a patent application a year later, and in 1933 Owens merged with the Corning company. It became what is known today as, Owens-Corning, who adapted the method to create their “Fiberglas®” in 1936. Originally, Fiberglas® was a simple glass wool with fibers entrapping a great deal of gas which made for a very efficient insulator.
It’s All About Polymers
The scale of global polymer production that we see in the present-day began in the mid-20th century. Low production and material costs combined with new production methods made polymer manufacturing more economical than ever. In the 1970s the industry really hit its stride and surpassed steel production making polymers ever-present material they are today. Even though FRP had taken some time to really take off, it’s been one of the driving aspects of the polymer industry.
A market such as the steel industry which is unsure of supply and pricing is a tumultuous one for businesses. However, it’s also a huge opportunity for FRP to take center stage as the sturdy alternative that is more of a value. The situation we have with the US-China trade war is very much the cause of a tumultuous grating and structural market.
FRP IS THE SILVER LINING OF STEEL MARKET VOLATILITY
What good can possibly come from all of this chaos and rising steel prices? It forces adaptation and innovation—a motivation to find alternative solutions. FRP offers solutions to businesses losing income from higher steel costs and supply line issues.
Before the trade war with China, companies may have overlooked FRP for structural and grating needs. Steel is the old guard, and people tend to not like change. However, when push comes to shove and profits are on the line—alternatives get a second look.
FRP grating and structural products from DEFI offer performance that meets or exceeds that of steel. FRP manufacturers have the upper hand due to FRP offering many advantages over steel that make it the smart choice for many reasons.
The Cost Of Steel Is Rising
New tariffs on steel have resulted in a 25% jump in the cost of imported steel products from China. The steel market, before the trade war, was already a volatile one and this price increase throws supply chains into chaos. Now, raw steel manufacturers can profit from this by raising prices that still beat bloated prices of imported steel.
However, if you incorporate steel into your projects, it means that having a steady supply at a reasonable price is difficult. Clients that are stressed about a deadline and budgets may have to cancel or change their plans as a result.
But, with FRP those clients can get the same strength as steel with an overall cost that is much less. While FRP used to be considered a premium product due to its higher initial investment, steel prices have negated that gap.
In fact, even before rising steel prices, FRP still was the better overall value as its cost of ownership is lower. This is due to FRP having virtually no maintenance costs and costing a fraction of what steel does to ship and install on-site. When you consider the additional costs in steel installations—tools, movers, reinforcing foundations, etc., the price gap widens. FRP can be installed and assembled with simple tools and because it’s so light, it’s cheap to ship. Right now, as far as overall cost—FRP is the material of choice.
FRP Has Better Durability
Steel fabricators know that the concern of steel prices and instability will cause their clients to be leery of using steel. Layoffs at steel distributors and mills have been equally steady and disheartening, but the market must correct itself. The trade deal with China has hurt the US market and corrective measures were needed. While the tariffs are a means to a fair-trade deal—it does hurt the US steel industry for now. If your industry is construction, distribution, or fabrication, your ability to make profitable deals is harder as well. However, you can turn to DEFI products for a better value that will keep business running smoothly.
More Features Than Steel
FRP has many attributes that steel just can’t match. For one, they can be created to be anti-slip, corrosion-resistant, and are available in many colors. There’s no need to paint, they can be around corrosives such as acid, and they are even flame-retardant.
Steel is corroded by acid, saltwater, rust, blood, and a host of other corrosives. It conducts electricity so there is a shock hazard. FRP is non-conductive, so there is no shock-hazard present, ever and it does not interfere with radio transmissions.
Lower Cost Of Ownership
As mentioned before, FRP was viewed as a premium-priced alternative because of the initial investment. product. Once you factor in the mentioned installation and maintenance costs, FRP is by far the better value.
In addition, the cost of FRP has been quite steady and often lower than steel, especially when sourcing from DEFI. With multiple manufacturing and distribution centers, and easy shipping, we can keep your supply line smooth. Unlike the volatile steel market, our prices on FRP can hold steady for at least 30-90 days. That means no more unexpected costing surprises eating into your bottom line.
Wide Variety Of Applications
FRP is used in just about every industry and has tons of applications where it is far more cost-effective than steel.
Common applications and industries include:
- Water Treatment Plants
- Stair Assemblies
- Oil Rigs On and Offshore
- Platforms, Catwalks & Grating
CHOOSE DEFI PRODUCTS AS YOUR ALTERNATIVE TO COSTLY STEEL
With a complete line of FRP products across a dozen or more industries, DEFI is your direct source for FRP. We are the manufacturer, the distributor, the designers, and the installers—there is no middle man. Contact us today so we can save you money and bolster safety for your workplace.