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Old 05-28-2015, 04:11 PM   #1
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Default Stronger/lighter fiberglass?

We have been looking at new windows for our 30ish year old house, and it certainly appears that window salesmen will give RV, car, London Bridge, etc salesmen a run for their money. Horrible knowledge, pushy, ridiculous promises, you name it.

Anyway, we have been researching and looking for a while, and have gotten very intrigued by fiberglass frame windows, which appear to be light, very strong, very durable, and have very low thermal expansion and contraction.

We just received color samples for one brand that are on a piece of the fiberglass they use for some of the window frame. This material is extremely strong. The sample is about .08" thick 3/4" wide with a 3/16" flange down one side, and tiny flange on the other edge, maybe 5" long. It can't be bent by hand lengthwise, and it will even barely twist with large effort. It is easily stronger than vinyl, aluminum, wood, chop glass fiberglass in the same profile. Close to steel strength, I would guess.

The material is fiberglass, but made by what the call "pulltrusion".

It puts the fibers inline along the axis (they use straight fiber in the window stuff, not fabric mat), so all the strength is in a direction needed, with a full resin fill.

I think the applications into the RV industry could be pretty neat. Strong, light, non corroding or rotting- window frames, cabinet frames, running board supports, tank supports, body reinforcing for fiberglass units, etc.

When you look at the newer units built on the single wheel, front drive, Promasters, weight reduction is thing they will need to do if they want to keep adding features and options. The small Cs on Promaster could certainly use lighter/stronger parts, I would think.

I am going to be looking around to see if, and where, anyone supplies the various profiles that they make. I think it would be fun to put together a couple of test things to see how strong they are compared to the other materials. I will particularly interested to see how it would take to doing fiberglass mat/resin joint reinforcement after bolting together.

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Old 05-28-2015, 07:29 PM   #2
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Default Re: Stronger/lighter fiberglass?

If all the fibers are parallel, why not have one layer going one way, the next layer going 90 degrees, next 45 degrees from that, etc? This would give strength on all potential ways it can bend, similar to how with plywood, each layer is glued perpendicular with each other.

I also wonder about carbon fiber. It slowly is coming down in price, and is even stronger than fiberglass.

Booster is right though. I can see an upfitting company doing something similar to what Sportsmobile has done, except taking a either a van cutaway, or an entirely stripped down chassis (like the Winnebago Via), and making a van body for it. Done right, the upfitter could make something with the same width as a van, but with a lot more usable inside room, especially if the body is molded around the A/C (like the Roadtrek's Cool Cat) to maximize inside space. Done right, with the A/C nestled towards the back, this would allow a RV upfitter to be able to have room for a drop-down bed, or a basement.

Slide-outs become possible as well. Not just a narrow one that replaces a sliding door like the ERA 70C, but one that can span the entire width of the vehicle, and with the newer Schwintek slide-outs, perhaps have two telescoping parts for a substantial addition of space. I saw one European model (called a full coach built) which had exactly this, on a Ducato chassis.

Of course, outside basement storage (which isn't allowed by the Euro van makers due to concerns of body integrity) would be possible again.

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Old 05-28-2015, 08:56 PM   #3
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Default Re: Stronger/lighter fiberglass?

The parallel fiber thing seems to be related to the length vs width of the sections. The window frames tend to be narrow compared to length, so the don't see the "shear" type loads that would be across the fibers. If the sections were wider and the lengths shorter, I would expect that would be when they would go to the fiberglass mesh the article talked about. This process in carbon fiber would be really cool.
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Old 05-28-2015, 10:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: Stronger/lighter fiberglass?

In the first 5 minutes of this interesting video; he shows the pulltrusion machine making the stuff:


I would like to see that stuff replace wood in RV's.
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Old 05-28-2015, 11:44 PM   #5
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Default Re: Stronger/lighter fiberglass?

Cool video, and it does show them using the fiberglass mat to get omni directional strength for the transoms.

I also hope this makes it into RV builds.
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