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Fiberglass (or fibreglass) is a type of fiber-reinforced plastic where the reinforcement fiber is specifically glass fiber. The glass fiber may be randomly arranged, flattened into a sheet (called a chopped strand mat), or woven into a fabric. The plastic matrix may be a thermosetting plastic – most often epoxy, polyester resin – or vinylester, or a thermoplastic.
The glass fibers are made of various types of glass depending upon the fiberglass use. These glasses all contain silica or silicate, with varying amounts of oxides of calcium, magnesium, and sometimes boron. To be used in fiberglass, glass fibers have to be made with very low levels of defects.
Fiberglass is a strong lightweight material and is used for many products. Although it is not as strong and stiff as composites based on carbon fiber, it is less brittle, and its raw materials are much cheaper. Its bulk strength and weight are also better than many metals, and it can be more readily molded into complex shapes. Applications of fiberglass include aircraft, boats, automobiles, bath tubs and enclosures, swimming pools, hot tubs, septic tanks, water tanks, roofing, pipes, cladding, casts, surfboards, and external door skins.
Other common names for fiberglass are glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) or GFK (from German: Glasfaserverstärkter Kunststoff). Because glass fiber itself is sometimes referred to as "fiberglass", the composite is also called "fiberglass reinforced plastic." This article will adopt the convention that "fiberglass" refers to the complete glass fiber reinforced composite material, rather than only to the glass fiber within it.