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In-depth report on fiberglass industry
 August 12, 2022
Glass fiber is the mainstream reinforcement material, and technology drives the upgrading of product structure
Fiberglass is a fiber reinforced material made of pyrophyllite, quartz sand, limestone and other minerals as raw materials, combined with soda ash, boric acid and other chemical raw materials through high temperature melting, wire drawing, winding, weaving and other processes; traditional metal materials and Compared with non-metallic materials, glass fiber has the characteristics of high temperature resistance, corrosion resistance, high strength, light specific gravity, small extension and good electrical insulation performance.

Glass fiber composite material is a functional material made of glass fiber and its products (glass fiber roving, cloth, mat, etc.) as a reinforcing material and synthetic resin as a matrix material through a composite process; glass fiber composite not only inherits the The advantages of glass fiber itself also have the characteristics of energy saving, large design freedom, and wide adaptability. At present, glass fiber accounts for about 90% of the overall reinforced fiber composite materials, and is widely used in construction, industrial pipe tanks, automobiles and transportation, electrical and electronic, wind power and other fields.
The diversity of glass fiber determines the diversified development of glass fibre reinforced materials. At present, there are more than 5,000 types of glass fiber applications in the world, with more than 60,000 specifications and uses. The varieties and specifications are developing rapidly at an average annual growth rate of 1,000-1,500 types. The wide variety of glass fibers also determines the diversity of glass fiber reinforced materials. change. Glass fiber reinforced materials can be divided into glass fiber yarn reinforced composite materials and glass fiber mat reinforced composite materials according to the type of reinforcing materials; according to different matrix resins, they can be divided into glass fiber reinforced thermosetting composite materials and glass fiber for thermoplastic composite materials, among which glass fiber reinforced thermosetting composite materials are mainly based on thermosetting resins such as unsaturated polyester resin, epoxy resin, phenolic resin, vinyl ester resin, etc., and thermoplastic resins are mainly polypropylene resin (PP) and polyamide (PA). Diversified glass fiber reinforced materials have different properties, laying a foundation for adapting to the needs of different fields.

Glass fiber reinforced composite materials have formed a complete industrial chain with a wide range of applications. At present, the world glass fiber industry has formed a complete industrial chain from glass fiber, glass fiber products to glass fiber composite materials. Traditional industrial fields such as automobile manufacturing and emerging glass fiber application fields such as aerospace, wind power generation, filtration and dust removal, environmental engineering, and marine engineering.
From thermosetting to thermoplastic, from short glass fiber to long glass fiber, the application scenarios of glass fiber in the automotive field continue to develop. Since the advent of glass fiber in the 1930s, how to better use glass fiber to strengthen composite materials has become a hot issue. In the middle of the 20th century, people first combined glass fiber with thermosetting resin, and introduced thermosetting composite materials represented by SMC, which can be used for automobile doors, bumpers and other parts. In 1972, people used glass fiber mat as a reinforcing material for the first time, and developed GMT, that is, a glass fiber mat reinforced thermoplastic material, which is mostly used in seat frames, car roofs, engine protection covers, etc. In the 1990s, the introduction of LFT, a long glass fiber thermoplastic material, expanded the application field to automotive front-end brackets, instrument panels, and underbody guards.

At present, the technology of glass fiber reinforced materials has been greatly improved, and the application fields have also been significantly expanded. Judging from the pace of technological development, the overall development trend of glass fiber reinforced materials: from glass fiber reinforced thermosetting composite materials to glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic composite materials, from short glass fiber reinforced composite materials to long glass fiber reinforced composite materials.
From thermoset to thermoplastic
SMC materials open the door to the technological application of glass fiber reinforced materials. SMC is a glass fiber reinforced thermoset composite, defined as a compression moldable, B-stage, sheet-like thermoset composite, essentially a special form of prepreg. The earliest SMC formulations were based on unsaturated polyester resins and were later upgraded to higher-performing but higher-cost vinyl ester resins. Its performance is superior, the relative density (specific gravity) of glass is small, 1.6 to 2.0, which is lighter than the lightest metal aluminum; the specific strength is high, much higher than that of steel and cast iron. Compared with steel and cast iron, although there is a certain gap in tensile strength with steel, it is equal to or even surpassed with cast iron, while compressive strength and bending strength are close to steel.

The development of chopped strands for SMC is limited by material properties, and glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic materials are expected to take over the baton for the development of glass fiber reinforced materials. If SMC materials have opened the door of glass fiber composite materials, then glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic materials have brought new hope to the development of the industry. When SMC materials begin to be applied on a large scale, due to the limitations of their own material properties, they will be powerless in the face of many more demanding challenges. For example, SMC has entered many automotive devices and suddenly has to withstand the range adopted by some automotive manufacturers. Wider electrophoresis and coating temperature, so there are problems of foaming and paint hollowing in many factories. At the same time, the immature waste gas treatment and solid waste recovery and treatment technologies are also the main problems affecting the production and application of thermosetting composite materials. Since the successful development of glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic material (GMT as an example) in 1972, due to its own advantages, it has not only successfully upgraded the original field of SMC material, but also filled the blank field of SMC material. The most favored "21st century green composite material".
Glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic materials are more adaptable to the current environment, and new breakthroughs are constantly made in market expansion. With the green transformation of China's economy and the development of green economy, thermoplastic composite materials have shown huge market potential in the fields of automobile and rail transportation lightweight, intelligent logistics, green building, sports and leisure, and modern agriculture and animal husbandry.
From short fiberglass to long fiberglass
The length of glass fiber has a great influence on the performance of composite materials, and the performance of long glass fiber is better than that of short glass fiber. Glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic composites are divided into three types: short glass fiber (SFT), long glass fiber (LFT) and glass fiber matte (GMT) according to the different ways of glass fiber reinforcement. The length of short glass fiber is generally less than 6mm, and the length of long glass fiber is generally 10-15mm. According to research, the longer the length of glass fiber, the better the performance of glass fiber composite products. SFT is the main variety of glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic composite materials. It has the advantages of simple molding process and short cycle, but its performance still cannot meet the needs of auto parts in many places. In contrast, the performance of LFT reinforced thermoplastic composites is much higher than that of SFT. Under the same glass fiber mass fraction, the tensile strength, bending strength and impact strength of long glass fiber reinforced materials are higher than those of short glass fiber reinforced materials. . Therefore, the application of LFT products in the automotive field will be more extensive than that of SFT.

Compared with chopped glass fiber strands and glass fiber mat, long glass fiber has an excess growth rate. According to market research by RePort Link, the compound growth rate of global long glass fiber reinforced materials is 8.5% between 2017 and 2021, and the compound growth rate of short reinforced glass fiber thermoplastics is only 4.5%; the actual production of LFT in the European market during the same period The compound growth rate is 3.68%, and the compound growth rate of SFT production is only 0.61%. From the perspective of glass fiber processing form, the production cost of LFT directly produced by one-step method is theoretically 20%~50% lower than that of GMT material, and the comprehensive performance such as impact resistance and production efficiency has been improved. Therefore, in recent years, the European market The market share of LFT is more advantageous and increases year by year. The LFT consumption of the global automotive industry accounts for about 80% of the total LFT consumption, and the current lightweight vehicles such as automobiles have become a growth hotspot in the transportation industry, and the demand space will be further expanded.
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