By Andy Greathead of Perma Composites

Construction project.Fibre reinforced plastic (FRP), sometimes referred to as composites, is an ideal material to use in construction, as it has a number of features making it cost effective and durable. These are two benefits that are very important to any building project.

Not only that, social and environment issues are changing the way people think about construction materials making FRP a more viable choice.

This is why companies within the construction industry should consider using FRP.

A greater use
of FRP

Recent predictions show a significant increase in FRP usage over the next few years, indicating that many businesses are already realising the benefits of fibre reinforced plastics.

A study in the US forecasts a 4.7% annual increase in the demand for FRP composites. The study mentions that three-quarters of total demand would come from the automobile and construction industries – which points to the fact that a lot of businesses are already considering FRP as an alternative material to traditional materials, i.e. steel.

Financial benefits

Two of the biggest key performance indicators on a construction project are cost effectiveness and durability. FRP falls under these categories for two reasons:

  1. It has a low maintenance cost – FRP products are generally manufactured using a mixture of fibreglass and resin that make it more durable, thus reducing the costs over time as it requires very little maintenance; and
  2. Easy installation – compared to products such as steel, FRP is extremely easy to install. It’s also much lighter in weight which reduces the overall cost of a project.

Permastruct, a leading FRP manufacturer notes that there are many financial benefits of using FRP over alternatives such as concrete, steel and aluminium, with significantly lower maintenance costs being one of its biggest selling points.

Social and environment issues

In addition to the obvious fiscal advantages, environment and social issues will also highlight the business case for fibre reinforced plastics. The social aspect comes into play with large construction projects, such as bridges, that cause lengthy delays. Because FRP is easy to install, any delays can be minimised, thus freeing up traffic much sooner – a must on today’s busy roads.

Environmental concerns are playing an increasingly significant role in legislation. New laws and reimbursement schemes are persuading companies to lessen their carbon footprint. Business owners are demanding a greater scrutiny over the materials they use on construction projects in order to become greener. In the future, products with a longer service life, superior environmental performance and a reduction in maintenance costs, will be seen as highly favourable. These characteristics are what make FRP a highly sustainable product. 

Andy Greathead and his partner Graham Hine founded Australian company Perma Composites in July 2010, having acquired Melbourne-based Composite Engineering and adding David Barrie’s skills and experience into the partnership along the way. Perma distributes Permastruct FRP and Permatimber composite timber products to projects around the world.