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Comparision

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FRP vs. Traditional Materials

Aeron’s products have a number of significant advantages over steel, aluminum and timber. Compare the characteristics of structural materials on the chart below. For more information click on any characteristic or simply scroll down the page.

 

Aeron FRP

Steel

Aluminum

Timber

Corrosion Resistance High Low Medium Low
Strength High High High Low
Weight Low High Low Medium
Electrical Conductivity Low High High Moderate
Thermal Conductivity Very Low High High Low
EMI/RFI Transparency Yes No No Yes
Fabrication Easy Easy Moderate Easy
Life Cycle Cost Low Moderate Moderate High
Environmental Impact Low High High Low

Corrosion Resistance

Aeron FRP : Aeron's FRP structural products are corrosion resistant to a broad range of chemicals. In many structural applications where wood rots and metals corrode, FRP products will last indefinitely with little or no maintenance. The applications can be in environments where water (either salt water or fresh water) is present, such as water parks, water and sewage plants and coastal areas, or where corrosive chemical solutions and or vapors are present like in coal preparation plants and chemical plants. FRP products will endure a long life with very little maintenance. Learn more about Aeron products resistance to corrosion in our Corrosion Resistance Guide.

Steel : Steel is subject to oxidation and corrosion. Steel requires painting or galvanizing for many applications.

Aluminum : Aluminum shapes can cause galvanic corrosion. Corrosion resistance can be increased for aluminum through anodizing or other coatings.

Timber : Wood can warp, rot and decay from exposure to moisture, water and chemicals and is susceptible to insect attack (marine borers, termites, etc.). Timber coatings or preservatives required to increase corrosion or rot resistance for timber can create hazardous waste and/or high maintenance.

Strength

Aeron FRP : Aeron's structural shapes have a high strength-to-weight ratio and pound for pound are stronger than steel in the lengthwise direction. Aeron's fiberglass products distribute impact loads to prevent surface damage even in sub-zero temperatures and will not permanently deform under impact. Engineers and Designers may access product load tables from Aeron's Product Literature or the Aeron Design Manual.

Steel : Steel is a homogeneous material. Steel can permanently deform under impact.

Aluminum : Aluminum is also a homogeneous material and easily deforms under impact.

Timber : Timber can experience extreme fiber bending after impact and is much less rigid than FRP.

Weight

Aeron FRP : FRP materials are light weight. Generally on an equal volume basis, fiberglass will weigh only 25% of the weight of steel and 70% of the weight of aluminum. This feature can significantly impact installation costs, reduce the risk for injury and result in less structural support from foundations or supporting structures.

Steel : Steel may require lifting equipment to move and place.
Aluminum : Aluminum is generally lightweight - about 1/3 that of copper or steel, but heavier than FRP.
Timber : Timber is comparable to fiberglass, but not as strong.

Electrical Conductivity

Aeron FRP : Aeron’s fiberglass products are extremely low in electrical conductivity. Nonconductive products provide significant safety benefits in many applications such as those found in electrical substations products andpower poles.

Steel : Steel conducts electricity and can be a potential shock hazard.

Aluminum : Aluminum also conducts electricity.

Timber : Timber can be conductive when it is wet.

Thermal Conductivity

Aeron FRP : Aeron products are low in thermal conductivity and FRP products do not expand or contract like metals. This feature can provide a significant degree of thermal insulation. It also can be a safety feature. For example, if one part of a fiberglass structure is extremely hot, individuals who touch the structure away from the heat source won’t be burned.

Steel : Steel is thermally conductive.

Aluminum : Aluminum is also a heat conductor with high thermal conductivity.

Timber : Timber has low thermal conductivity.

EMI/RFI Transparent

Aeron FRP : Aeron FRP materials are transparent to radar and radio waves. This feature can benefit applications such as antenna / cellular shielding. Many of Aeron’s fiberglass products have received the Los Angeles Research Report (or LARR) approval. This impressive approval requires stringent independent testing in cellular applications.

Steel : Steel can interfere with EMI/RFI transmissions.

Aluminum : Aluminum is highly reflective and can interfere with EMI/RFI transmissions.

Timber : Timber is transparent to EMI/RFI transmissions.

Ease of Fabrication

Aeron FRP : FRP can be field fabricated using simple carpenter tools with carbide or diamond tip blades; no torches or welding is required. Fiberglass materials are also lightweight, resulting in easier erection and installation. Composite design can be customized for required finishes and slip-resistance.Fabrication worksheets are available to Aeron customers.

Steel : Steel often requires welding and cutting torches; Steel is also much heavier, requiring more labor and special handling equipment.

Aluminum : Aluminum can be welded, brazed, soldered or mechanically joined but requires more skilled workers than steel fabrication.

Timber : Timber can be field fabricated using simple carpenter tools.

Life Cycle Cost

Aeron FRP : Aeron composite materials will generally have a significantly longer life expectancy and are virtually maintenance free. Pigments added to the resin provide color throughout the part and require little to no painting maintenance.

Steel : Steel may have a lower initial cost, however, installation and maintenance costs will lead to higher lifecycle costs.

Aluminum : Aluminum may have a lower initial cost and extrusion tooling is relatively inexpensive. Part prices are comparable or slightly lower, but long-term costs are generally greater than FRP.

Timber : Timber has a lower initial cost, however, installation, maintenance and replacement costs will result in higher lifecycle costs. To maintain color, repainting may be required.

Environmental Impact

Aeron FRP : Compared to these materials, the manufacture of Aeron’s FRP products produces fewer air and water emissions, consumes less energy and emits less greenhouse gas, leading to both a reduced environmental impact and a lower carbon footprint. Since FRP does not corrode or deteriorate, it can be recycled. More importantly, however, virgin production of FRP usually has less environmental impact than even recycling alternate materials, such as steel and aluminum. Click here to learn more about Aeron's Green Initiatives.

Steel : Steel consumes more energy and produces more greenhouse effects than FRP.

Aluminum : Aluminum also consumes more energy and produces more greenhouse effects than FRP.

Timber : The coatings used on timber to increase resistance to insects can be environmentally hazardous. Treated wood has been banned for several applications. Extreme care in use and disposal of treated timber is required.