Fiberglass resin is a semi-solid material made with a combination of fiberglass strings and resin. Fiberglass is comprised of very fine glass fibers and is widely used as a reinforcing agent. Resin is a semi-solid substance that contains the properties necessary for it to be used as a base for other materials. The most common use for this material is in the repair and restoration of fiberglass boats, cars, and motorcycles, and repair technicians are trained in special techniques required to safely and effectively use this product. It's also known as fiber-reinforced polymer or glass-reinforced plastic.
When the fiberglass frame of a boat or car needs repair, fiberglass resin is often applied. The addition of the resin creates a product that has a high level of rigidity, which is essential when building anything that must be able to withstand physical pressure. The process used to form boat hulls or automobile body kits makes use of this resin as well.
When using fiberglass resin, a chemical called a catalyst is added to it. This chemical reacts to the fiberglass and produces heat, which makes the resin pliable. The technician must manipulate the material quickly into place since the material hardens as it cools. Once hardened, the material has all the same physical properties of fiberglass.
To form fiberglass, thin strands of glass are separated into minute fibers. These fibers retain the properties of glass, but can be pliable and mixed with other products. Fiberglass can be combined with a wide range of materials, depending on the desired end product. When mixed with resin, fiberglass becomes very thick and is temporarily quite malleable.
When working with fiberglass, it is important for individuals to take appropriate safety precautions. Fiberglass particles can become loose and work their way under any exposed skin, which will be instantly irritated by the microscopic glass fibers. Users should always wear thick gloves, overalls, and use a respirator when working with fiberglass. The inconvenience of the additional clothes is preferable to the irritation of fiberglass resin particles.
People who work with fiberglass on a regular basis may want to consider investing in a breathing apparatus. Fiberglass particles are very small and can easily be inhaled. Repeated, long-term exposure to fiberglass can cause permanent lung damage.
When fiberglass resin is applied, is appears as a shiny material, called a gelcoat. Gelcoats are usually mixed with a colored die for easy application and visibility. When a fiberglass body for a car of boat is being created, the fiberglass is pored into the mold to create the body shape. When the mold is removed, the gelcoat becomes visible.