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In the last century, composites evolved rapidly from basic organic materials, such as mud bricks, to complex composite materials, such as fiber glass. A large portion of our everyday products nowadays would probably not have existed without these advances in technology. Especially when it comes to applications where stone or metal would not be suitable to the requirements of the product. Consider an interior ceiling which is designed in a marble decor. Not only is marble expensive in concerns of material price and processing, but it is also very heavy in comparison to alternatives, which makes it more difficult to apply.
The past decades brought us various solutions to these kinds of problems. New composites often offer alternatives with even more advantages. One of these alternatives is glass fabrics, which are light-weight, flexible during the processing, and compatible with nearly all thermoset resins. This means that the fabric rises to a preset level once impregnated with resin. Furthermore, a variety of processes and materials can be integrated on the surface to make the perfect composite for nearly any application. Hence a marble decor could be implemented by use of glass fabrics with a proper surface finish.
Particularly for a stone affect, there are various options which are suitable for interior paneling or ceiling systems. Most of these techniques combine stone surfaces with glass-reinforced polyester backing, which allow laminating it directly onto the desired surface. Through the use of glass fabrics, the backing also allows 3-D forming.
Similar to that, metal surface coatings can be applied as well. This can offer both decorative and functional advantages, such as protection against corrosion and impacts. While an antimicrobial copper coating can be used for medical applications, metals can also be used to provide improved heat dissipation in molds. The application most often is realized by spraying or rolling metal powder onto the mold.
There are several other finishes, which can improve functionality of the composite even further, e.g. a protective coat to absorb point loads in flooring systems, antislip ship decking, truck bed liners and more. Researchers from glass fabrics expert Parabeam are currently further investigating functional expansions and surface finishes, which presumably will strengthen the value of fiberglass in the future.