August 11, 2010

Glass Fiber and Basalt Fiber Industries

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There are two general trends in the glass fiber industry: one is upward, toward enormous growth, and the other is downward, toward lower cost.

A general trend is the continuing push toward increased performance at lower price. In a typical graph of specific tensile strength (GPa per pound, y-axis) vs. material cost (dollars per pound, x-axis), aluminum and steel are at the bottom left; E-glass and Advantex are slightly above; next comes R-glass and then S-glass; and then aramid and carbon fiber are at the top right.

Basalt fiber is still not widely used, it is slowly making its way into the hand of consumers. At price points that vary between S-glass ($5/lb to $7/lb) and E-glass ($0.75/lb to $1.25/lb), basalt fibers have properties akin to S-glass. A common use is in the fire protection sector because of its high melt-point.

Strength-to-weight ratio of basalt fiber exceeds the strength of alloyed steel by 2.5 times and the strength of fiber glass – 1.5 times.


In 2002, the high-performance segment for reinforcement material was five-million-ton per year worldwide for reinforcement of cement and concrete products, epoxy resins, gasket materials, muffler linings, paper and other products.

In 2002, there was a 9 million ton worldwide market for the reinforcement of epoxy resins, gasket materials, fine paper and other products

OCV Reinforcements (Toledo, Ohio) makes its R-glass products. OCV is trying to do is break the cost/performance curve in order to achieve this: Shift high-performance glass to the left so that performance (y-axis) is maintained while cost is reduced. OCV believes this is the route to achieving a goal common to all glass fiber producers — a goal summarized as replace traditional materials like steel, wood and aluminum with glass-reinforced composites, and increase the overall amount of composites used.
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