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This article is about the type of composite material. For the thermal insulation material sometimes called fiberglass, see glass wool. For the glass fiber itself, also sometimes called fiberglass, see glass fiber. For similar composite materials in which the reinforcement fiber is carbon fibers, see carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer.
Fiberglass (American English), or fibreglass (Commonwealth English) is a common type of fiber-reinforced plastic using glass fiber. The fibers may be randomly arranged, flattened into a sheet (called a chopped strand mat), or woven into a fabric. The plastic matrix may be a thermoset polymer matrix—most often based on thermosetting polymers such as epoxy, polyester resin, or vinylester—or a thermoplastic.
Cheaper and more flexible than carbon fiber, it is stronger than many metals by weight, is non-magnetic, non-conductive, transparent to electromagnetic radiation, can be molded into complex shapes, and is chemically inert under many circumstances. Applications include aircraft, boats, automobiles, bath tubs and enclosures, swimming pools, hot tubs, septic tanks, water tanks, roofing, pipes, cladding, orthopedic casts, surfboards, and external door skins. Fiberglass covers are also widely used in the water treatment industry to help control odors.
Other common names for fiberglass are glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), glass-fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP) or GFK (from German: Glasfaserverstärkter Kunststoff). Because glass fiber itself is sometimes referred to as “fiberglass”, the composite is also called “fiberglass reinforced plastic”. This article will adopt the convention that “fiberglass” refers to the complete glass fiber reinforced composite material, rather than only to the glass fiber within it.