101 Guide to Fiber Reinforced Polymers

Close up of glass-fiber reinforced plastic

Selecting the best material for your next infrastructure project can be difficult. Time, cost, aesthetics, usability, and durability are all factors to consider when making a final choice.

Fiber Reinforced Polymers (FRP), composites found in almost every type of advanced engineering structure, are often utilized in applications ranging from aerospace to civil infrastructure, such as bridges and buildings.

Production and Installation Time
When you’re developing the overall scheme for infrastructure design, time is a critical element of planning. FRP’s total production and installation time is on average 15 days less than that of precast concrete; that’s a little more than two weeks of savings in labor cost alone.

FRP also requires less total installation time — five days on average — which allows engineers to better schedule intrusive work. When projects begin and finish around less busy times and weekends, the impact results in cost savings and reduced inconvenience for busy commuter schedules.

Weight
Eight times lighter than reinforced concrete, FRP requires less labor and equipment for installation and removal. Furthermore, lighter load weight reduces wear and tear on the entire infrastructure. The material also has a high strength-to-weight ratio, especially compared to traditional materials such as concrete, metal, and wood.

Long-Term Cost
While FRP has a slightly higher price per square foot during installation, there are many long-term cost benefits for the material. Because of their non-corrosive nature, Fiber Reinforced Polymers are built for durability and require less maintenance, translating to lower overall facility costs.

Versatility
FRP can be used for a variety of projects, including:

  • Pedestrian bridges
  • Trail bridges
  • Cantilever sidewalks
  • Vehicle bridges
  • Waterfront infrastructures

Electromagnetic Transparency & Non-Conductivity
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio-frequency interference (RFI) is a vital consideration when equipment or instrumentation relies upon accurate readings. With excellent transparency to electromagnetic and radio frequency interference, FRPs are also non-conductive, reducing the risk of electrical shocks and making the material a safer alternative to steel.

A Top Choice for Civil Projects
FRP uses are varied and include new constructions as well as the renewal of civil infrastructure such as buildings, bridges, pipelines, and other facilities that require a fast turnaround time back to functionality. With their high strength, long service life, low maintenance, and low installation costs, FRPs are increasingly becoming the go-to option for civil engineering applications.  

Image Credit: Evannovostro / Shutterstock.com

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