GRP vs Carbon Fibre

Although Carbon Fibre is still the main buzz word within the composite industry, is it really head and shoulders above anything else?

We have compared the two types of materials below against numerous criteria with the aim of answering this question.

  GRP Carbon Fibre

What is it?

A composite material made of a plastic reinforced by fine fibres made of glass.

A composite material consisting of thin, strong crystalline filaments of carbon.

Rigidity (GPa)
The rigidity of the material when placed under stress.

Click here fore more information on calculating rigidity.

42

181

Tensile Strength (MPa)
The resistance of the material to breaking under tension.

Click here fore more information on Tensile Strength.

3,400

4,300

Density (g/cm3)
The ratio of weight to volume of the composite material.

Click here for more information on calculating density.

2.60

1.75

Corrosion Resistance
Is the composite resistant to UV and chemicals?

Yes

Yes

Thermal Expansion (in/in-°F)
How much the composite expands and contracts in relation to the temperature.

Click here for more information on thermal expansion.

7-8

2 or less

Fire Resistant
Ability for the material to be impervious to fire and that for a specified time and temperature, there will be no structural failure.

Yes

Yes

Conductivty
Does the composite conduct electricity?

No

Yes

Fabrication Process
The process involved in the making of the relevant components.

Straightforward Process

Complicated Process

Maintenance

Low
GRP has a design life of approx. 50 years and does not rust, rot, or require painting.  If a part is damaged, the investment required to fix is low.

 Low (but expensive)
Although the maintenance cost is low for the same reasons as GRP, the investment required to repair a damaged part can be very high, especially as the compostite is brittle which means that it has a tendancy to shatter.

Cost

Low

High

Summary / Result

Although Carbon Fibre has a superior strength to weight ratio and minimal expansion in relation to temperature, the fact that it is complex to manufacture and expensive means that to make it commercially viable it is used in low production runs of highly specialised products for industries such as aerospace; however, it is beginning to enter everyday industries such as automotive.

GRP still has an excellent strength to weight ratio and in some cases can be classified as being stronger than Carbon Fibre due to it flexing under strain. Furthermore, the material and manufacturing process is extremely cost effective, meaning that it's the composite of choice for the majority of industries.


Article by MPM

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