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Home > Sources and Types of Textiles > Fiberglass
Fiberglass

FiberglassFiberglass or fibreglass is a material made from extremely fine fibers of glass. It is widely used in the manufacture of insulation and textiles. It is also used as a reinforcing agent for many plastic products; the resulting composite material, properly known as glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) or glass-fiber reinforced epoxy (GRE), is called fiberglass in popular usage.Glassmakers throughout history have experimented with glass fibers, but mass manufacture of fiberglass was only made possible with the advent of finer machine-tooling. In 1893, Edward Drummond Libbey exhibited a dress at the World Columbian Exposition incorporating glass fibers with the diameter and texture of silk fibers. What is commonly known as "fiberglass" today, however, was invented in 1938 by Russel Games Slayter of Owens-Corning as a material to be used as insulation. It is marketed under the trade name fiberglass.

Formation
Glass Fiber Glass fiber is formed when thin strands of silica based or other formulation glass is extruded into many fibers with small diameters suitable for textile processing. Glass is unlike other polymers, in that, even as a fiber, it has little crystalline structure. The properties of the structure of glass in its softened stage are very much like its properties when spun into fiber. One definition of glass is "an inorganic substance in a condition which is continuous with, and analogous to the liquid state of that substance, but which, as a result of a reversible change in viscosity during cooling, has attained so high a degree of viscosity as to be for all practical purposes rigid." The technique of heating and drawing glass into fine fibers has been known to exist for thousands of years; however, the concept of using these fibers for textile applications is more recent. The first commercial production of fiberglass was in 1936. In 1938, Owens-Illinois Glass Company and Corning Glass Works joined to form Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation. Until this time all fiberglass had been manufactured as staple. When the two companies joined together to produce and promote fiberglass, they introduced continuous filament glass fibers. Owens-Corning is still the major fiberglass producer in the market today.

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