Sustainability is certainly at the forefront of everyone’s minds in today’s construction industry. Finding competitive solutions to structural products that deliver results and maximum versatility has never been more important. Which is why, for today’s contractors, developers and local authorities, it’s more crucial than ever to discover alternative solutions that meet building challenges. Solutions that are financially competitive, yet provide resilient results that are kind to our planet too - this is where GRP is hugely beneficial.
GRP, or Glass Reinforced Polyester, is frequently also known as fibreglass or FRP. The vital benefit of this material is that it offers a truly versatile option in comparison with conventional thermoplastics or even more traditional materials like timber and steel that are more generally used within the industry. Offering many benefits, GRP is particularly strong, a structural element, very durable, and requires no maintenance; its life expectancy being in excess of 75 years.
GRP is produced from micro-fine strands of glass fibres, which are woven together; creating a fabric that is both strong and flexible. This is then either pultruded or moulded into a product as additional resins go through the ‘thermoset’ process. This creates a structural product which is very stable under sunlight as well as hot and cold climates. GRP is used in construction, in car and truck manufacture and in many other industries such as rail, air, power generation and of course sea!
Our bridge deck walkway panels have an added aluminium oxide aggregate surface which is moulded into the product during the thermoset process delivering an extremely long-lasting diamond-hard exterior. This is unlike the resin bonding process post-production which can add potential maintenance issues.
If recycled plastic is the way forward, then why not use 100% recycled plastic materials? There are certainly good reasons for this, including unsuitability for structural products, and it has higher potential for slips especially during wet conditions. It also has a higher likelihood for becoming warped or deformed in sunlight. For structures such as bridges or deck panelling, 100% recycled plastic would not be an option. For contractors and developers looking for an alternative yet more natural solution to industrial-style materials, structural GRP delivers the required aesthetically pleasing results while still being a more sustainable option with a 100% recycled plastic core.
A great option for contractors and developers looking for a more natural option for materials, GRP can be used to create natural timber that is difficult to differentiate from the real thing. At Plura, we’re constantly looking for ways to meet our clients’ challenges such as finding ways to keep the environment sustainable. We know that our clients have vast requirements in terms of finding the right products that deliver the results needed, but also at a competitive price point.
In terms of the building environment, GRP makes for an ideal solution to support the creation of vital infrastructure and installations and caters for a wide variety of applications including safety grating, handrails, and electronic enclosures. With its excellent anti-slip properties, GRP is ideal for retrofitting both dry and wet flooring. The future of bridges is changing very quickly as asset owners look to meet sustainability targets and to incorporate long lasting products. Life spans in excess of 7 to 10 times that of timber also offer whole life cost benefits.
Offering true diversity, GRP is a particularly reliable product. Its excellent reinforcement properties mean that it has multipurpose benefits. Whether it’s a residential, commercial or any other setting, it offers contractors and developers long-term sustainability; with excellent resistance to extreme weather conditions, abrasive chemicals, and corrosion.
For organisations looking for reinforced polymer structural shapes in continuous lengths, the process of manufacturing GRP pultrusions is a highly effective solution that includes constant cross sections. With GRP’s ability to deliver durability and reliability in a cost-effective material, it’s a great alternative to traditional metallic materials. Produced in a highly efficient automated process, this means that a high level of product can be created in no time.
For Plura, POLYbridge™ is used to create planks, posts and rails. Developed from GRP that has a recycled plastic bottle core, which means that when used for an average bridge, you’d be looking at 2800no of recycled bottles removed from landfill. Adding that to an extensive timespan which reaches more than 75 years, you’re looking at less carbon impact from a combination of bridges and boardwalks, not to mention multiple installations.
When it comes to decking planks, GRP is a great option. Without a doubt - ensuring that decks are particularly slip-proof in wet conditions incorporating all slip resistance during the manufacturing and thermoset process- it’s part of the finished product. It’s known that timber and steel decks, and recycled plastic can be slippery in these conditions, so it’s vital that these materials have a post-manufacture coating to ensure that SRV safety standards are met. This leads to ongoing maintenance issues.
Through Plura’s POLYdeck™ range of products, sustainability at scale becomes a real possibility. POLYbridges™ and POLYboardwalks™ give builders and developers the ability to effortlessly blend materials into the natural environment. In particular, POLYbridge™ delivers a cost-effective solution for local authorities looking for a pultruded structure for all main beams and cross members, delivering a truly sustainable solution that meets all the necessary standards. For parapets, the POLYbridge™ materials start with 2no rails, with infill panels available. For bespoke designs, these are easily available – making GRP a great solution that suits budgets and standards.