It’s amazing how hardship or times of crisis often lead to some of the most incredible innovations. World War I and World War II both gave rise to some incredible innovations not only in military weaponry but in technology, medicine and many other areas. The current drought in the Western Cape which has lead to water restrictions have lead to some major innovations in techniques in rainwater harvesting in Cape Town .
All the different types of Fibreglass products that are available are manufactured in factories around the world by experienced and well qualified people. They use involved, and at times, complicated equipment and tools. However this is a very technical way of manufacturing fibreglass products and is not easily understood by the ordinary man in the street. Therefore in this article we will be concentrating more on the everyday use and application of manufacturing of fibreglass products. The drought and low levels of rainfall in the Western Cape over the past 12 months have had catastrophic effects on regular homeowners as well as businesses dependent on water for their day to day operations.
Fibreglass can be used to manufacture various products in various shapes and sizes, but can also be used to repair existing products that have been cracked, broken or worn.Let us first consider the manufacture of new products using fibreglass. Firstly we need to consider the materials that will be needed in order to produce a product.
The main ingredient used in the manufacture of various Fibreglass products is the Fibre fabric. This fibre fabric can be in sheet form of various widths and weights and can also be made in the following forms:
- Woven ( plain or twill weaves)
- Tape form
This fibre fabric is used because it is very light but also very strong; it is also durable and can hold up under extremely hot conditions. The fabric is also a very good non conductive material. In order to make the fibreglass into a product various types of resins are used. A certain type of resin is used to produce a fire retardant product; a different type of resin is used to produce a rigid and corrosive resistant product. There is also a special type of resin used for the production of swimming pools and in boat building. However in order to complete the process the use of a catalyst is required. This catalyst causes the fibreglass and resin to set and harden into a hard rigid plastic form, and because it cures at normal room temperature it makes this method of product manufacture available to the average person. You will also need paint brushes, a release agent like wax or oil to release the fibreglass from the mould, then you need rubber gloves and a face mask.
A few examples of products that can be made by using fibreglass:
- Motor car bodies
- Children’s toys
- Garden furniture
Whatever the product, we are now ready to begin. Firstly we need a pattern or mould which must be in the shape of what your finished product will look like. You then coat the mould with wax or oil in order to allow the fibre glass to be easily removed from the mould. Then you cut and lay the fibreglass fibre; in woven cloth or strand mat form; over, or inside, the mould and apply the resin mixed with catalyst to the fibre glass and allow to dry. You can then repeat this process until you have the right thickness you desire for your finished product. This will give you the required strength needed for the product you are making. Also remember when laying the fibre glass, try to lay each layer in different directions as this will assist in giving greater strength to your end product. A good guide to the number of layers that are needed for your finished product is at least 3 but not more than 10 layers. It may be necessary to sand the fibre glass after each coat to obtain the right gloss finish you want. After the resin has cured properly you can remove it from the mould and do the final sanding. Finally you need to remove the excess fibre glass and begin to paint the product and add any final touches you desire. Jaguar Products in Cape Town have begun manufacturing fibreglass products for rainwater harvesting. The company have developed an extremely fashionable and streamlined range of fibreglass tanks for rainwater harvesting.
Fibreglass can also be used to repair products that have been broken, cracked or worn, or be used in the manufacture of truck bodies or containers. In this process use is made of flat panels that can vary in size. In this case there is no need to make a mould for the finished product, but the use of a piece of wood or other stable material is used as a base. The process to produce the finished product is the same as that mentioned above for the manufacture of finished products. These flat fibreglass panels can then be used for many purposes, such as the sides of a truck or container or by assembling them together, can be used as the walls for a house.