- Fiberglass molding
Fiberglass molding is a process in which
fiberglassreinforced resin plastics are formed into useful shapes.
The fiberglass mold process begins with an object known as the plug or buck. This is an exact representation of the object to be made, and can be made from a variety of different materials. Certain types of foam are commonly used.
After the plug has been formed, it is sprayed with a mold release agent. The release agent will allow the mold to be separated from the plug once it is finished. The mold release agent is a special wax, and/or PVA (Polyvinyl alcohol). Polyvinyl Alcohol, however, is said to have negative effects on the final mold's surface finish.
Once the plug has its release agent applied,
gelcoatis applied with a roller, brush or specially-designed spray gun. The gelcoat is pigmented resin, and gives the mold surface a harder, more durable finish.
Once the release agent and gelcoat are applied, layers of fiberglass and resin are laid-up onto the surface. The fiberglass used will typically be identical to that which will be used in the final product.
In the laying-up process, a layer of fiberglass mat is applied, and resin is applied over it. A special roller is then used to remove air bubbles. If left in the curing resin, air bubbles would significantly reduce the strengh of the finished mold.
Once the final layers of fiberglass are applied to the mould, the resin is allowed to set-up and cure. Wedges are then driven between the plug and the mold in order to separate the two.
Advanced techniques such as
Resin Transfer Moldingare also used.
Making a Component
The component-making process involves building up a component on the fiberglass mold. The mold is a "negative" image of the component to be made, so the fiberglass will be applied inside the mold, rather than around it.
As in the mold-making process, release agent is first applied to the mold. Colored gelcoat is then applied. Layers of fiberglass are then applied, using the same procedure as before. Once completed and cured, the component is separated from the mold using wedges, compressed air or both.
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