How the glastic channels is molded into shape
A composite is made up of a reinforcing fiber and a matrix or resin. The matrix surrounds and supports the reinforcing fibers to maintain their relative positions. The fiber reinforcements share their mechanical and physical properties to enhance the properties of the matrix. In order to form a shape of a channel or an angle, a variety of molding methods must be used according to the end-item design requirements. In the molding method, several factors must be considered like the gross quantity of the product that will be produced. Extremely large quantities of molded composites can justify the investment in automated manufacturing technology. Another factor to be considered is the reinforcement and the matrix that will be used in the structural composite to determine whether the melding event will be through chemical polymerization or solidification of the melted state.
The reinforcing material and the matrix will be combined, compacted and processed to achieve melding. After melding, the part shape is essentially set although it can deform in certain conditions. When thermosetting resin is used, the melding event is usually through curing with heat and pressure. The most common manufacturing process when fiberglass is used as reinforcement is the wet lay-up process using an open mold. The shape of the part will be determined by the shape of the mold with the mold surface typically in contact with the part’s exterior. Mold release is first applied to the mold to prevent the fiberglass from adhering and then gel coat which is a pigmented resin. The pigmented resin will give color to the part.
Fiberglass and thermosetting resin will be deposited into the mold with the rollers compressing the glass fibers and at the same time distribute the thermosetting resin evenly and remove any air pockets. Multiple layers of fiberglass can be used according to the thickness desired. After the thermosetting resin has been cured, the part is removed from the mold with excess material trimmed off. In certain cases the composite can be powder coated and assembled.
Like any reinforcement material, fiberglass has its advantages and disadvantages but it is the material of choice when the application requires low to mid volume production or very large parts with contours and very high specific strength. Fiberglass is a designer’s material because by orienting the fiber’s direction and strategically placing the material, different strengths and thicknesses can be achieved.