FRP – The Smart Alternative to Aluminum

With aluminum prices on the rise, it makes sense to look for other options. Bedford’s fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) profiles offer comparable strength along with superior resistance to electricity and corrosion.

FRP vs aluminum

Let’s compare pultruded GFRP with 6061-T651 and 6061-T6 aluminum across six important criteria.

Corrosion resistance

FRP resists a broad range of chemicals and is unaffected by moisture. Painting is suggested when exposed to direct sunlight or UV rays.

Aluminum can cause galvanic corrosion when two dissimilar metals are in contact. The rate of this corrosion depends on the amount of moisture and oxygen as well as conductivity and temperature.

Strength

The ultimate flexural strength of FRP in the lengthwise direction is 30 ksi whereas that of aluminum is 35 ksi. In the crosswise direction, the strength of FRP is 10 ksi.

Weight

Both FRP and aluminum are lightweight, but FRP is the lighter of the two, weighing 30 percent less than aluminum.

Electrical Conductivity

FRP is nonconductive whereas aluminum conducts electricity and has grounding potential.

Thermal Properties

FRP is a good insulator with a low thermal conductivity of 4 BTU in./(hr ft2 °F). Aluminum conducts heat and has a thermal conductivity of 150 BTU/sf/hr/°F/in.

Stiffness and impact resistance

FRP will not permanently deform under working load or impact. Modulus of elasticity for FRP is 2.8 x 106 psi. Modulus of elasticity for aluminum is 10 x 106 psi. Glass mat in pultruded fiberglass reinforced plastics distributes impact load to prevent surface damage. This is true even in subzero temperatures.

When deciding between FRP and aluminum, it’s important to consider these factors, the application, the cost of the material and installation, as well as maintenance and product life.

If you think FRP may be the best solution for your project, contact us.