The purpose of fibreglass and carbon fibres in a composite part is to carry the applied load.
Fibreglass is manufactured by drawing molten glass into a filament, 3-25 microns in diameter. Changing the materials in the molten glass (sand, kaolin, limestone, colemanite, and metal oxides) gives a range of glass types. Glass fibres have good tensile and compressive strength, stiffness and are relatively low in cost. These properties make fibreglass the most widely used reinforcement in the composites industry.
Carbon fibres are almost pure carbon. They have higher stiffness and are lighter than fibreglass. They also have very high strength in both tension and compression and high resistance to corrosion, creep, fatigue and abrasion. These properties make carbon fibres very useful in aircraft, bridge and building repair, wind turbines, space, sporting goods and high end automotive and marine applications. The downside of carbon fibres is they can be brittle and suffer from impact damage.
Carbon fibres are grouped according to their modulus (stiffness). The groups are high strength, intermediate modulus, high modulus and ultra high modulus. The filament diameter of most types is 5-7 microns.
During composite manufacture (particularly cutting, sanding and grinding) glass and carbon fibres can break and form small particles. Whilst these particles are too big to cause lung problems like asbestos, they can cause irritation to the skin and eyes. Very fine dust particles can also explode or catch fire.
Respiratory Protection: Adequate ventilation should be provided. If above NOHSC exposure standard level, use SA approved respiratory protective equipment. If dust is generated during cutting or machining/grinding/sanding of cured product, wear disposable dust mask (Type P1) or better as determined by your risk assessment. When using resin system with fibres, use combination mask with vapour and dust particle filter.
Eye Protection: Use SA approved safety glasses, goggles or face shields.
Protective Clothing: Wear gloves, long sleeved, loosely fitted clothing and long pants:
CONSULT SAFETY EQUIPMENT SUPPLIERS’ RECOMMENDATIONS
Eyes: Can cause irritation.
Inhalation: Can cause upper respiratory tract irritation.
Skin: Can cause itching or irritation.
Swallowing: Unlikely to occur. Can cause irritation of the digestive tract.
Eyes: Flush with water for at least 15 minutes.
Inhalation: Remove to fresh air. Consult doctor if irritation persists.
Skin: Remove contaminated clothing IMMEDIATELY. Wash with soap and water.
Swallowing: Consult a doctor
Clean dusts and fibres with vacuum or wet methods. Place in containers and dispose of waste in accordance with local, state and federal regulations. Seek advice from supplier.
Use dry chemical, water, foam or carbon dioxide to put out fires. Self contained breathing apparatus is needed for fires involving carbon fibre products.
Store in dry place.
KEY to abbreviations – CNS: Central Nervous System EPA: Environmental Protection Authority NOHSC: National Occupational Health & Safety Commission (WorkSafe Australia) PVC: Polyvinyl chloride SA: Standards Australia
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