GLASS REINFORCED PLASTIC (GRP)
WHAT IS GRP?
Glass reinforced plastic (GRP) is a composite material made from plastic reinforced by fine fibres usually made of glass which has a variety of usage and is used widely throughout UK industries. Pultruded GRP comes in a range of sections similar to steel but can also be manufactured to specific detail and design.
At only 25% the weight of steel but with comparative strength, GRP is easier and quicker to install and reduces manual handling. Due to its high resistance it is widely used in chemical plants and other corrosive environments. Being virtually maintenance free, GRP is installed in remote areas or areas hard to physically access which greatly reduces man hours and materials on repairs and maintenance which are normally required on steel products.
Walkways, stairs, handrails, grating plates, duct covers, well covers, stair treads, support structures and bridges are only some of the areas where GRP is being used, overcoming hostile environments where corrosion, access, maintenance, repairs and safety all contribute to additional or ongoing costs on an annual basis.
Fire retardant, non-conductive, self coloured, high strength to weight ratio, lightweight compared to steel and virtually maintenance free. These are just some of the benefits in comparison with steel and other structural products.
The video below shows a section of steel and then GRP, similar to the molded image above, being subjected to a 175 kg weight being dropped on it from a height of approximately two metres.
GRP DROP TEST
EXCELLENT CHEMICAL & CORROSION RESISTANCEWithstands the most corrosive conditions to ensure solid structural integrity in tough environments.
UNMATCHED IMPACT RESISTANCECan withstand major impacts with little structural damage and no failure.
HIGH STRENGTH-TO-WEIGHT RATIOLess than one-quarter the weight of steel grating.
ELECTRICALLY AND THERMALLY NONCONDUCTIVEEliminates electrical/thermal hazards.
EASY TO FABRICATEDoes not need heavy lifting equipment or expensive tools; can be easily carried by intallation personnel; can be cut using standard circular or sabre saws fitted with abrasive blades, reduces installation costs.
LONG MAINTENANCE-FREE LIFERequires no scraping, sandblasting or painting. Cuts life cycle costs dramatically.
ELECTRONICALLY TRANSPARENTWill not affect electromagnetic/radio frequencies
FIRE RETARDENTClass I (0-25) Flame spread rating
SLIP RESISTANTImproves safety, reduces slips and falls.
NO SCRAP VALUEThe increase in the cost of metal has stimulated the theft of lead flashing, man hole covers etc. Composites have no scrap value and therefore not targeted by thieves.
GRP MARKET SECTORS
Faux coving, columns, facades, canopies and even chimneys have all been fabricated from GRP to create a cost effective and easily fitted solution to improving and mimicking traditional architectural styles, avoiding the cost prohibitive avenue of natural stone.
Due to advances in GRP technology, Briggs can seal and repair water course and culverts by lining them in resin impregnated glass fibre matting. This system can be installed in running rivers with no contamination to the water course. The traditional requirements for over pumping and fish passages are not needed, saving significant time, money and disruption to the water course. The product is lightweight, and quick to install.
OIL & GAS
Avoiding fire and explosions in these sectors is paramount and the non conductive and spark free qualities of GRP have made it a popular choice of material to use, particularly the offshore market
Due to being only one quarter of the weight of steel, bridge operators in particular have been installing GRP access and inspection to minimise the imposed load on bridge structures while providing safe access for maintenance and inspections.
CHEMICAL & INDUSTRIAL
The chemical resistant, non conductive and spark free qualities of GRP have made it a popular choice of material to replace steel structures in these health and safety sensitive sectors.
POWER & RENEWABLE ENERGY
Lightness of material affording ease of installation and longevity appeals to wind farm operators, particularly the offshore market, where reducing all forward maintenance to a minimum is a key driver in this market. Platforms, duct covers and vertical ladders, all made from GRP, are used for wind turbines which require no maintenance. The cost involved with accessing offshore facilities and the limits imposed with weather windows means future proofing these structures is of paramount importance.
GRP has been employed in the marine industry for decades from canoes to warships. The resistance to salt water and air makes it the preferred choice of material providing a long term solution to an aggressive environment.
WATER & WASTE WATER
Due to the corrosive nature of the chemicals used in water treatment facilities, GRP is replacing steel walkways, staircases, platforms and ladder access. Contamination from rusting steel structures to water reservoirs is leading to them being replaced by GRP bridges.