Glass Fibre

How is Glass fibre made?

Glass fibre is a dimensionally stable engineering material. It was first made by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks who knew how to melt glass down and stretch it into thin filament fibres. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that the fibres were developed fully.

Glass fibre production

Although a viable glass fabric can be made just from glass, it is usually mixed with other ingredients to reduce the working temperature and impart other properties onto the finished fibres. The glass and other ingredients are melted down at about 1400⁰c. The molten liquid is then sent into a refiner where the temperature is reduced to about 1370⁰c. It is then passed through small holes in the refiner to create the thin filament fibres. The thickness of these fibres varies depending on the end use of them. As they are passed through, cold water jets are used so make the fibres solid again, rather than being liquid. Tension is applied to the filaments to ensure they are the same thickness all the way down the fibres. After the filaments have been created a coating or sizing is applied. This can either be a lubricant, a binder or a coupling agent. The coating is used to add extra properties to the fibres. These include affinity to chemicals, protection from breaking and improving the strength of the fibres.

The filaments are then wound onto spools and put into an oven to ensure they are totally dry. Since its commercialisation of glass fibres, many advances have been made to enhance the properties of glass fibre.

Glass fibre properties

  • High Strength
  • Fire resistance
  • Does not stretch or shrink
  • Can resist exposure to high or low temperatures
  • 100% elastic recovery
  • Does not absorb moisture
  • Doesn’t change physically or chemically when exposed to water or other chemicals
  • Inorganic
  • Can resist temperature of up to 540⁰c
  • Does not rot or deteriorate
  • Excellent insulator
  • Low moisture absorption
  • Dissapitates heat rapidly
  • Versatile. Has many uses depending on the size of the yarns and the weave patterns.

Glass fibre end uses

  • Reinforcing circuit boards
  • Insulating purposes
  • Used as an alternative to asbestos fibres
  • Electrical purposes
  • Fire fighters clothing
  • Upholstery
  • Carpets
  • Pipe Covering
  • Electrical Cloth
  • Aprons
  • Welders Blankets
  • Draperies
  • Flame-Retardant fabrics

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Written by Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell, extremely competent and reliable, she is currently in her third year at the University of Lincoln UK, studying Fashion. Kelly is responsible for the Fabrics, Fibers and Leathers sections of our Dictionary

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