Glass fibre-reinforced plastic vs. aluminium


Metal versus plastic - which material has the better properties? We took a closer look at GRP and aluminium and uncovered the clear favourite.


Reading time: 6:00 min.

What is glass fibre-reinforced plastic?

GRP is a composite material made of glass fibres and a composite matrix. This composite transforms GRP into a very special material with different physical and mechanical properties depending on the composition and manufacturing process. Depending on the application, GRP can therefore be modified accordingly to best meet the requirements. In our article "Glass fibre-reinforced plastic (GRP) - a definition", we have summarised all the important information about GRP for you. Common application areas for GRP are, for example, the bus, caravan and commercial vehicle industries or the construction industry.
 

What is aluminium?

Aluminium is a chemical element (Al) and is a metal, specifically a light metal. It is the most common metal on earth and has a silvery white colour. The raw material is the ore bauxite, which is extracted by open-cast mining. Bauxite is first converted into aluminium oxide, also known as alumina, by a chemical process. The aluminium oxide is converted into aluminium by electrolysis. Ultimately, the desired shape of the metal is obtained through processes such as rolling, forging, extrusion or bending. Well-known products made of aluminium include aluminium foil, cables, cans or even components for vehicles.

Comparison between GRP and aluminium

If you compare the properties of glass-fibre reinforced plastic and aluminium, you can see that GRP offers advantages over aluminium in many ways. GRP is not only extremely lightweight, but also flexible. Aluminium is also relatively light and flexible, but there is always a risk of the material kinking and subsequently becoming dented. Glass fibre-reinforced plastic provides optimum insulation. GRP not only provides excellent thermal insulation, as it has significantly lower thermal conductivity than aluminium, but sound is also very well insulated by GRP. This is particularly advantageous for motor homes or driver's cabins in commercial vehicles. GRP reduces the noise level produced in hail or rainy conditions, so nothing will spoil your peaceful journey. GRP also scores highly with regards to cleanability. In our article "Which material is easy to clean?"

Which material provides greater protection against external influences?

Aluminium and plastic are used in a wide range of industries. However, most industries have one thing in common: They are not protected against external influences. Sunlight, rain and hail are just a few factors that can impair the materials. GRP or aluminium - which material is better in this case? How do the two materials perform he

2.    Resistance to weathering 

If we consider resistance to sunlight or hail, both materials have different advantages. Aluminium is UV-resistant and has a shiny surface that is not faded by sunlight as quickly and does not yellow as a result of weather conditions, which can occur with GRP. However, if the GRP surface is sealed with a Gelcoat, it is also extremely resistant to UV and weathering. In addition, GRP's material surface is more resistant to hail or stone chips, resulting in fewer dents in the surface. With regard to a vehicle roof made of GRP, this can also result in cheaper insurance rates, for example .