These materials are available with a wide range of properties to meet specific end-use applications. There are two basic products available from Claremont Polymer Shapes. Firstly, electrical grades meeting N.E.M.A. specifications. High physical strength, electrical arc resistance, fire retardancy and high heat resistance characterize this group. Such materials are used for high strength, non-conductive parts; like switch bases and panel mountings. The second major use area is structural members. These FRP's are characterized by high physical strength, lightweight compared to metals, corrosion resistance, dimensional stability, high heat resistance and, in some grades, flame retardancy. Products in this group are used often to replace steel or stainless steel in areas such as chemical plants. Angles, channels, beams, tubes and rods are produced by PULTRUSION; a method involving the pulling of glass fiber strands through liquid polymer and a heated die to cure the polymer setting the material to shape. This process confers a great variation in physical properties between lengthwise (LW) and crosswise (CW) directions. Since FRP is a thermoset polymer, it cannot be further shaped by heat after curing. Additional heating only deteriorates the polymer binding the fiberglass, causing embrittlement and eventually charring.
With all FRP grades, cutting and machining present some difficulties. With high loadings of glass fibers or glass cloth used to reinforce the polymer, tool-wear on saw blades, drill bits, etc. is severe even when carbide is used. Often diamond particle saw blades are used for cutting. Lubricants can create problems since the internal structure is exposed in cutting and often some of the lubricant is absorbed. This can lead to swelling and deterioration at that point. As well, the dust produced from cutting and/or machining operations is laden with tiny glass particles and presents a serious health hazard. Dust collection systems and masks are a must when cutting or machining FRP.