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The history of fiber reinforced plastics: A journey through time with aXpel composites

History of FRP

At aXpel composites we pride ourselves on manufacturing innovative fiber reinforced plastic parts for a variety of applications and industries. Our expertise in processing these high-performance materials enables us to offer our customers tailor-made solutions for their most demanding projects. In this article we would like to take you on an exciting journey through the history of fiber-reinforced plastics.

The beginnings: 1930s to 1940s

The idea of using fibers to reinforce materials goes back a long way. Historically, natural fibers such as plant or animal fibers have been used to reinforce clay, concrete or textiles. However, the first modern FRPs emerged in the 1930s when British engineer Richard Hill and US researcher Carleton Ellis independently combined polyester resins with glass fibers. This material, now known as glass fiber reinforced plastic (GRP), was first used commercially to make aircraft parts during World War II. Combining glass fibers with resins resulted in a lightweight yet extremely strong and durable material ideal for the aerospace industry.

Expansion into new markets: The 1950s to 1960s

After the war, fiber-reinforced plastics quickly found their way into other industries, such as shipbuilding, the automotive industry and the sporting goods market. In the 1950's, companies such as Owens Corning and DuPont began commercializing fiberglass and various resin systems such as polyester, epoxy, and phenolic resins. The 1960s saw the discovery of carbon fibers and aramid fibers (e.g. Kevlar), which offered even higher levels of strength and stiffness than glass fibres.

Processing Advances: The 1970s to the 1990s

In the following decades, new processing techniques were developed to make the production of fiber-reinforced plastic parts more efficient and economical. These include the vacuum infusion process, resin transfer molding (RTM) and the prepreg process. These techniques made it possible to manufacture more complex and larger components and to further improve the quality of the products.

New Materials and Applications: The 21st Century

In the 21st century, fiber-reinforced plastics have found their way into even more industries, such as wind energy, infrastructure construction and aerospace. At the same time, new materials such as basalt fibers and natural fibers have been developed that offer additional properties and environmental aspects. The further development of nanotechnologies and hybrid materials has also led to a further improvement in the properties of fiber-reinforced plastics.


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