Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Corrugated and Flat Fiberlass Sheet Panels

Corrugated Fiberglass Sheets and Panels are cool. They are clear or colorful. They remind me of the 50's, yet designers are still calling out for them in modern applications from skylights, fences, wall partitions, to patio covers. Fiberglass is relatively cheap, chemical resistant, hold up to sunlight, has a great R-value, is strong and easy to cut.

There are over 500 profiles of corrugation made over the past 50 years. (I happen to have access to most of these older profiles, but you'll need 8000sf to crank up the machines). In the 21st century, only a handful are still being produced. Most of what you see as a consumer is what's called "2-1/2" corrugation. There are wood filler strips to match a cross section and strips for the ends - even aluminum nails to batten down the panels. There are several other options that I will discuss - from "R" panels, to metal building products, to something we call "Tred-Safe" - a corrugated roofing panel you can walk on.

Flat and Corrugated Fiberglass panels are rated by their "weight per square foot". The material is made from polyester resin, chopped fiberglass fibers, and sometimes acrylic modifiers are added for clarity and longevity in the sun - say for greenhouse applications. These panels are made by basically pouring the resin onto a conveyor, sprinkling the chopped fibers over the resin, and then laying a top sheet of mylar material over it. (Ok - that was really simplistic, but you get the idea) The trick is to sprinkle enough fibers on the sheet to hold it together. The more fibers, the higher the weight per square foot. At 6 or 8 ounce, it's thicker than a credit card.

Thing is, most of the panels in the big box stores are so thin they'll break before you get them on your patio cover. What a waste. Gives them a bad name. You have to go to a plastic supply center to find the good stuff. I have also seen some quality hardware chains carry them, and some specialty lumber yards offer them. You should be asking for "6 ounce" or higher. The cheapie panels are about 3 ounce. Maybe less. They typically run 26" wide (so you can overlap) x 96" long. The better 6 ounce and 8 ounce sheets come longer - 144" and more - but the shipping gets crazy on the 192" long sheets - so size does matter.

Now - for you industrial types it gets far more interesting. There are panels are DURABLE - and some so thick you can walk on them, with specific corrugations for metal building sides and skylight panels. There are "R-panels" and cooling tower panels. The sheets are typically wider - from 36" to 52" wide and thicker 8 ounce type material. But wait - there's more! You can only sprinkle so much fiber on the sheet - to go beyond the 8 ounce, you have to add fiberglass cloth and rovings! And yes. like the picture shows, you can walk on it - carefully. That's about 12 ounce material in the picture.

Fiberglass sheets and panels last a long time. There used to be a plant here in town that was made with corrugated panels. After about 40 years, the panels were still performing - even though they looked weathered. Panels 6 ounce and up usually have a warranty of 20 years - pro rated of course. I know of a customer that called about the warranty on his panels. We went out, got on the roof, and sure enough, the panels needed replacing. When asked when they were purchased, he said "Oh, I think about 35 years ago" to which we said - "Well, I guess you got 15 bonus years for free!"

Which makes me think that Fiberglass Sheets - whether corrugated or flat - will play a BIG part in helping us develop better application for solar heating of water and spaces.

Note: Fiberglass Liner Panels - for walls and ceilings - are on a future blog (yet to be written).
Note: Fiberglass sheet - structural sheet and high pressure
laminated NEMA G10 and FR4 - are on a future blog (yet to be written).

re: fiberglass sheets, panels, sheet, corrugated fiberglass panels, tube, roof panels, rod, tubing, sheeting, reinforced panels, flat, roofing, clear, pipe, greenhouse, angle, wall panels, liner panels

No comments:

Post a Comment