What Does a Fiberglass Laminator Do?

Lori Kilchermann

A fiberglass laminator applies fiberglass to a mold to create components for boats, golf carts and automobiles. Using a tool called a chop gun or using her hands to press the resin-saturated, fiberglass matting into the mold, the fiberglass laminator makes sure that all areas of the mold are covered in a sufficient amount of fiberglass matting to provide the desired strength of the finished component. Another job of the fiberglass laminator is to press out all of the air bubbles and air pockets from the fiberglass matting to provide a solid sheet of fiberglass from the mold. Other tasks include mixing the resins, removing the cured product from the mold and trimming the pieces to a finished size.

A fiberglass laminator may apply fiberglass to vehicles like a golf cart.
A fiberglass laminator may apply fiberglass to vehicles like a golf cart.

Fiberglass is a very strong, yet lightweight, material used to create boat hulls, decks and interior panels, as well as golf cart bodies, race car components and aircraft components. A common fiberglass component is created by placing a resin-saturated fiberglass mat inside of a mold and allowing the fiberglass to cure or harden. Once hardened, the fiberglass is removed from the mold and a finished piece is created. It is the job of the fiberglass laminator to ensure all steps are followed to create a strong, safe and quality component.

There are two common methods of producing a fiberglass panel or component from a mold: the hand-laying method and the chopper gun method. The hand-laid fiberglass method is completed by a fiberglass laminator who applies resin to a section of fiberglass matting and places it in a specific location within the mold. This process is repeated until the entire mold is covered in the required thickness or layers of fiberglass mat.

The air bubbles are removed from the mold by the fiberglass laminator through a process of running a squeegee or a roller over the panels. This moves any trapped air from the center to the outer edge of the mold. In order to reinforce many types of fiberglass components, the fiberglass laminator will place strips of wood or aluminum in the final layers of fiberglass to act as strengtheners when the fiberglass cures.

The second method involves the use of a pneumatic chopper gun. This tool shoots small pieces of fiberglass matting along with a fine stream of resin, operating similarly to a paint gun. The fiberglass laminator directs the chopper gun towards the mold and allows the material to build to a uniform thickness inside of the mold. Any bracing materials are placed into position and then more material is applied over them. The air bubbles are removed as in the hand-laid method, by the fiberglass laminator pressing the air out of the fiberglass with a squeegee or a roller.

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