What is fiberglass?

Fiberglass: an innovative material that is now also making its mark in greenhouse construction

Fiberglass, or glass-reinforced plastic (GRP), is a combination of two existing materials which result in special properties: glass fibres that are enclosed in a polyester resin.

Fiberglass is both light and strong and performs in line with many metals. Furthermore, it can be made into rigid constructions and specific shapes. This makes it an incredibly versatile material.

Incredibly versatile

Since the 1930s, fiberglass has been put to an increasing number of uses. The wide range of applications demonstrate how versatile the material is, from its use in the rotor blades of helicopters to fiberglass being the material from which the body of the Corvette, an icon in American car industry, is made. The material is commonly used in making things such as surfboards and the pillar caps of the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier. The latter example is particularly impressive, as the material was meant to withstand the wind and weather for twenty years, and after ten years it turned out that the material had become harder than it was in its first year!

Fiberglass: now making its mark in greenhouse horticulture

Thanks to Piet Bom, we can now add the international greenhouse horticulture sector to the multitude of applications for fiberglass. As an innovator, he has been making his mark on glasshouse horticulture since the 1960s. It is a sector that is developing rapidly. In the coming decades, the world's food supply will be highly dependent on what can be produced in greenhouses. This expansion requires not only more greenhouses, but also greenhouses made from environmentally-friendly construction materials. Materials such as fiberglass fit into this trend.

Where steel once made way for aluminium, fiberglass is now paving the way ahead. The figures are telling: producing a fiberglass greenhouse roof requires a fraction of the energy required to make a comparable aluminium one. It is also possible to recycle fiberglass (like aluminium) so the material can be used for other purposes at a later date.

A new name with decades of experience

About Piet Bom Innovations

Advantages for the grower

The advantages of the material are not solely for the environment, as fiberglass provides significant added value in daily use:

  • The material is strong and sturdy, which means the maximum greenhouse length can be further extended
  • The insulating value of fiberglass is unparalleled, which means thermal bridges and condensation are minimized
  • Fiberglass can be manufactured with the desired bright white colour in the factory, which is ideal for maximizing light transmission
  • A fiberglass roof construction offers advantages during construction and assembly
  • The price of fiberglass on the world market fluctuates much less, minimizing unpleasant surprises in the costs of construction

Expertise in production

Producing glass roof constructions for greenhouses is a specialist activity, especially considering the high requirements set by the greenhouse horticulture sector. That is why the innovator Piet Bom, inventor of the fiberglass roof construction for greenhouses, dedicated significant amounts of time to finding the right producer with sufficient capacity to produce the material in large volumes. This should pave the way to the unlimited application of fiberglass as a revolutionary new material in greenhouse construction. This is a material that will reshape the future, in a sustainable way.

‘The Fiberglass Greenhouse Roof’ is nominated for the GreenTech Innovation Award 2019!