These are commonly made with phenolic, polyester, and epoxide resins combined with various types of reinforcing agents, of which glass fibers in the form of mats or fabrics are the most common. Because little or no pressure is required to form large complex parts, rather simple molds can be employed for the manufacture of such things as boat hulls and similar large parts. In buildings, reinforced plastics have been rather widely used in the form of corrugated sheet for skylights and side lighting of buildings, and as molded shells, concrete forms, sandwiches, and similar applications.
These materials may be formulated to cure at ordinary temperatures, or they may require moderate temperatures to cure the resins. Customarily, parts are made by laying up successive layers of the glass fabric or the glass mat and applying the liquid resin to them. The entire combination is allowed to harden at ordinary temperatures, or it is placed in a heated chamber for final hardening. It may be placed inside a rubber bag and a vacuum drawn to apply moderate pressure, or it may be placed between a pair of matching molds and cured under moderate pressure in the molds.
The high impact resistance of these materials combined with good strength properties and good durability recommends them for building applications. When the quantity of reinforcing agent is kept relatively low, a high degree of translucence may be achieved, although it is less than that of the acrylics and the other transparent thermoplastic materials.
Fabrics for Air-Supported Roofs. Principal requirements for fabrics and coatings for air-supported structures are high strip tensile strength in both warp and fill directions, high tear resistance, good coating adhesion, maximum weathering resistance, maximum joint strength, good flexing resistance, and good flame resistance.
Translucency may or may not be important, depending on the application. The most commonly used fabrics are nylon, polyester, and glass. Neoprene and Hypalon have commonly been employed for military and other applications where opacity is desired.
For translucent application, vinyl chloride and fluorocarbon polymers are more common. Careful analysis of loads and stresses, especially dynamic wind loads, and means of joining sections and attaching to anchorage is required.