A fiberglass panel is a thin, lightweight board constructed from the pressed strands of glass known as fiberglass. This is a relatively young technology, because it has existed in its current form less than 100 years. In many cases these panes are used as an alternative to metal sheeting and traditional glass as wall and roofing materials, for example in greenhouses.
The practice of breaking glass down into string-like fibers has been around for over a century, but its current, strong, reliable formation was forged in the 1930s and is referred to as Fiber Reinforced Polymer in the industry. The Owens-Corning company was the first to heat glass and draw it out into thin strings. At first, these hair-like fibers were used only for insulation, but later were heated again and pressed flat until they formed a fiberglass panel.
A fiberglass panel can come in a variety of sizes and colors, but is characterized by its outer textures. Most panels have a smooth, lacquer-like side and a rough side that better shows the overlapping strands of glass fibers. Many panels are flat, but some, like building panels, are corrugated to create an uneven surface.
The fiberglass panel has been a competitor to sheet metal and glass ever since its introduction on the market. There are four major benefits of fiberglass over other materials. First, fiberglass weighs less than metal or glass, second, it is more shatter-resistant than glass, third, it does not rust like metal and fourth, tends to cost far less than either competing material.
Sheds, barns and many industrial buildings utilize the fiberglass panel as a key building component. Panels can be fastened to the side to block weather and maintain an even temperature inside the building. One of the more common uses of reinforced panels of fiberglass is as a roofing material because it provides the same weather protection and insulation as wall panels, but can come in clear or semi-clear colors. This allows sunlight to enter a building, delivering a natural source of heat and light, frequently cutting down on utility bills in the process. An excellent example of fiberglass hardware being used for this precise purpose would be a greenhouse that is covered in transparent panels in order to give plants a consistent temperature and plentiful light.