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A glass fiber is a long glass fiber made of glass. During production, thin threads are drawn from a glass melt and processed into a large the number of end products.

Glass fibers are used as fiber optic cable for data transmission and flexible light transport of z. As laser radiation used as a roving or as a textile fabric for thermal and acoustic insulation, and for glass fiber reinforced plastics. These are today among the most important construction materials. They are aging and weather resistant, chemically resistant and non-flammable. Their high modulus of elasticity is used to improve the mechanical properties of plastics.

History Of The Glass Fiber

The origin was the ability of glassblowers from the Thuringian Forest to produce so-called fairy or angel hair as early as the 18th century. First used only as decoration means, the possibilities of the fibers after the foundation of a glass factory in the Thuringian Haselbach of Hermann Schuller were discovered gradually (1896). There spinnable glass filaments with a precisely defined diameter were produced for the first time, so to speak, as "rolls". This process was patented in the 1930s as a rod drum removal process.

Use as a Light Guide

In the fiber direction, light can spread in glass fibers almost unhindered. By a radially outwardly decreasing refractive index, continuous or gradual, the light is guided in the fiber. This property as a light guide is used in many technical applications.

Data Transfer

Glass fibers are used inter alia as optical fibers in fiber optic networks for optical data transmission. This has the advantage over electrical transmission of a significantly higher maximum bandwidth. It can be transmitted more information per unit time. In addition, the transmitted signal is insensitive to electrical and magnetic interference fields and offers higher security against eavesdropping.


Lighting, Decoration, Art, and Architecture

In a variety of lamps and lighting installations, glass fibers are used today, the fibers being used not only for light transport but also as radiating elements themselves. An unusual application is the production of translucent concrete: the incorporation of three to five percent of glass fiber content creates translucent concrete elements through which you can see light, shadows, and colors up to a wall a thickness of 20 cm.

Illumination and Imaging in Medicine and Metrology

Glass fibers and glass fiber bundles are used for lighting and imaging z. B. on microscopes, inspection cameras or endoscopes or even with cold light sources used (see also: fiber optics). In most cases, however, polymeric optical fibers are used for illumination since they are more flexible and do not break when overstretched.

Sensors

Glass fibers are increasingly used in metrology. Fiber optic sensors are used in which the measured variable is not represented or transmitted as typically by an electrical variable, but by an optical, for data acquisition in hard to reach areas such as dams or under extreme conditions such as steelworks or magnetic resonance tomographs. There are two classes of fiber optic sensors:

Extrinsic:

Here, the glass fiber serves only as a transmitter of the measured variable detected by the sensor, which the sensor must provide as an optical signal. Examples are glass fiber pyrometers, fiber optic temperature probes or optical microphones (fiber optic transducers).

Intrinsic: 

Here, the glass fiber serves directly as a sensor and is thus both sensor and line. Examples are fiber optic pressure sensors, the fiber optic temperature measurement or the fiber gyro for measuring the angular velocity.

Laser

Fiber Laser In Double Sheath Fiber Construction
For the flexible transport of laser radiation, glass fibers are used to direct the radiation on the one hand in the processing of materials and in medicine to the processing site (cutting, welding, etc.) and on the other in the measurement, microscopy, and spectroscopy to the sample.

In laser show technology, laser light is directed from a central source via fiber-optic cables to various projectors distributed throughout the room. The services here are a few hundred milliwatts up to double-digit wattages.

Laser beams can not only be guided into the glass fibers, but also generated and amplified in them. To find z. B. Fiber lasers and erbium-doped fiber amplifiers used in the telecommunications sector. Due to the good efficiency of the conversion process and the good cooling due to the large surface of the fiber as well as the very high beam quality, high-performance fiber lasers are used in material processing and medicine.

Use of Mechanical Properties

  • Typical properties of glass fibers
  • Density 2.45 ... 2.58 g / cm³
  • Filament diameter 5 ... 24 microns
  • Tensile strength 1.8 ... 5 GPa (kN / mm²)
  • Tensile modulus 70 ... 90 GPa
  • Elongation at break <5%




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high-performance bundle of glass fibers for plastic reinforcement (Glasfaserroving)

For mechanical applications, the glass fibers are usually present as roving, nonwoven or as tissue. For profiles, however, unidirectional (unidirectional) fibers are used; For example, sports arrows for archery, rods for insulation or z. B. made in some umbrellas of glass fiber reinforced plastic.

Since glass fibers are very notch sensitive, they are provided with a so-called sizing in the production or prior to weaving. This size (eg a silane size) serves as a lubricant during weaving and is chemically removed after weaving. Thereafter, the so-called finish is applied to the glass fibers, which acts as a bonding agent between the glass fibers and the synthetic resin for use in fiber composites. Finish is also referred to as an adhesive-containing size. It can make up to two percent by mass but is usually 0.3 to 0.8 percent.

Glass fiber reinforced plastics show only a very low tendency to creep and absorb only very little moisture.

Strength

The high strength of the glass fiber is based on the size influence. Due to the fiber shape, the defect size in the fiber is smaller than in the compact material volume. At the same time, the defect-free length in the fiber form increases. As a result, the strength of the glass fiber compared to the compact material is greater.

The the tensile and compressive strength of the glass fiber ensures a special stiffening of the plastic while maintaining a certain flexibility thanks to the (compared to steel) high elastic elongation at break. The properties of glass fibers are used, for example, in the manufacture of high-strength and lightweight components such as sports boats, GRP profiles, GRP reinforcements or fishing rods. Tanks and pipes for highly corrosive substances are usually made of glass fiber reinforced plastic.

Typically, the design uses the mean quasi-static strength of an unreinforced E-fiber of RG = 1800 MPa.

Rigidity

The modulus of elasticity of glass fibers differs only slightly from that of a compact volume of glass material. Unlike aramid fibers or carbon fibers, the glass fiber has an amorphous structure. As with compact window glass, the molecular orientation is random. The glass fiber has isotropic mechanical properties. Glass fibers behave ideally linear elastic until breakage. They have only a very low material damping.

The stiffness of a real component made of glass fiber reinforced plastic results from the modulus of elasticity, direction and volume fraction of the glass fibers as well as to a small extent from the properties of the matrix material, since usually, a much softer plastic is used. The modulus of elasticity of the pure glass fiber with 70,000 to 90,000 MPa is approximate of the order of a magnitude of aluminum.
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