Is Fiberglass As Strong As Metal?

Published: 18th April 2011
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This is a question that has many answers. The answers depend on which aspect of strength one is looking at. Most commonly, strength is viewed as force divided by area. We consider the stress test as a way to measure how much stress it takes to make an item made of metal, wood or other polymers to bend permanently.



This "Yield Strength" is how we measure beams and other metal item durability quotient. There is also "tensile strength"; this is the amount of stress required to break an object. Next is "Compressive strength" which is most commonly used to measure the strength of ceramics, glass and other brittle materials.



Metal has about an equal amount of strength in both compression and tension. In the debate, fiberglass VS metals, it boils down to toughness of the material. This too is subjective since it depends on the stressors being used or that will be used on the object being made. Fiberglass can have a very different sort of strength than metal.



It is true that pound for pound Fiberglass is stronger than most sheet metals. It also is better at staving off corrosion, since it will never be prone to rusting. Fiberglass is also a material that can be made to resist flames. There are very few designing restrictions for the use of fiberglass.



Fiberglass can easily molded into shapes, this means you get a solid construct. With metal you have to weld pieces together and this creates seams that can rust through with time.



Another feather in the fiberglass hat is that it does not conduct electricity and it is easier to receive and send radio waves through. It makes a great housing for electronics for this reason alone. It is also a great material for sound reduction. It absorbs sound waves and this is why it is regularly used for rooms where the noise levels get very high.



Metals, wood and plastic also react to the changes in temperature by expanding or contracting. This is another area that fiberglass has theme beat. It does neither. This makes it perfect for siding, although it is a bit heavier than aluminum. They are also more resistant to dents and dings than a sheet metal or aluminum wood is.



Now that you have a few of the facts you can decide where you stand with this debate. Each of them has their pluses and minuses and it really depends on the use you have planned for the material. Which is better, the better question is which is best for this project?





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When not rock climbing or scuba diving in Hawaii, Jonathan Steele can be found researching new steel decking products for his company in Atlanta. Jon is a steel roof deck metallurgist who takes great pride in his work and in his writings.

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