Using CNC Manufacturing to Create Custom FRP Products

CNC Pultruded TubingCNC stands for Computer Numeric Control. CNC Machining is a process used in the manufacturing sector that involves the use of computers to control machine tools. Tools that can be controlled in this manner include lathes, mills, routers and grinders.

CNC Dome LidThe CNC process is relatively straightforward.  First, a CAD drawing is created (either 2D or 3D), second, a code is created that the CNC machine will understand. The program is loaded and finally an operator runs a test of the program to ensure there are no problems. This trial run is referred to as “cutting air” and it is an important step because any mistake with speed and tool position could result in a scraped part or a damaged machine.

CNC Mold1The upfront cost of CNC machines can be steep, but the long-term advantages of employing CNC technology for the manufacturing of precision FRP products, far outweighs the initial cost. 

Many end users of FRP products look for someone who can guide them to the most efficient production approach, one that saves time, money, and resources—CNC manufacturing is one piece to that puzzle. Here are some of the advantages of using CNC manufacturing to create custom FRP products.

  1. Precision—Once the design is programmed into the CNC machine it can be repeated hundreds or even thousands of times with a high degree of accuracy.  A CNC machine will produce replications that are an exact match and there will be no variation from component to component—thus eliminating human error and fatigue.
  2. Adaptability—Not only are CNC machines capable of handling a wide range of designs and materials from wood, metal, plastic, pultruded composites, and FRP—just to name a few.  In addition, CNC machines are capable of creating complex 3D shapes that would be extremely difficult if not impossible to achieve by a skilled machinist. 
  3. Programmability—CNC machines can be programmed by advanced design software, enabling the manufacture of products that cannot be made by manual machines, even those used by skilled designers / engineers.
  4. CNC Man Way LidSaves Time and Money—Modern design software allows the designer to simulate the manufacture of his/her idea. There is no need to make a prototype or a model. This saves time and money.  One person can supervise many CNC machines as once they are programmed they can usually be left to work by themselves.
  5. Low Maintenance—CNC machines can be used continuously 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and only need to be switched off for occasional maintenance. Their reliability, precision, ease of operation and adaptability ensure that the end user gets a cost-effective approach to their design.

At Beetle, our comprehensive capabilities include CNC manufacturing, open molding (hand lay-up and spray-up), precision molding and tooling, filament winding, vacuum infusion, equipment rebuilding, on-site modifications and custom manufacturing/fabrication.  We have over 50 years experience in fiberglass—in that time we’ve developed unmatched dedicated design and field services that enable us to guide you to the most efficient production approach.

What Makes a Superior FRP Fracking Tank?

fracking tankThere are many FRP tank options available out there on the market, so how can you be sure you’re getting a high quality product that performs?  When designing your fracking tank there are many criteria to consider, for example, corrosion barrier thickness, chemicals to be handled, and aesthetics—to name a few. You’ll want to make sure that the product you are ordering has been specially designed to withstand the challenges of corrosive and stringent environments, such as chemical media, high temperature, vacuum, and high pressure.

In addition you’ll also want to be sure the fabricator has the experience and commitment to industry standards to execute the finished product you have in mind.  Here is a short list of some basic characteristics of what we believe makes a superior fracking tank.

1. Corrosion resistance

Work with a dedicated and experienced design/manufacturing team that has the capabilities to deliver superior corrosion resistant tanks that will withstand hydrochloric acid, corrosive solutions, and other fracking fluids.

2. Aesthetics

Find a company that has the right technology, capabilities, and know-how to meet your industry requirements.  Find a manufacturer that has high standards, good quality control, will pay attention to details, aesthetics, and has a proven history in FRP.

3. Design Flexibility and Custom Components

Work with a company that has the engineering experience to offer design flexibility; build new, repair, or upgrade.  Be sure to select a manufacture that possesses the know-how to offer add-on FRP components, such as manways, hose troughs, roll over protection, tank saddles, well lines (dip tubes), drains, fitting, ports, and fixtures and interface with your fleet.

4. Custom Laminate Scheduling and Custom Paint

Find a manufacturer that understands your industry needs and can deliver custom laminate scheduling and paint—ensure you tank performs and looks good.   Be sure the manufacture knows how to select the proper resin for your specifications (i.e. corrosion barrier/liner) and offers custom formulations that can enhance your tanks service life and look.

5. Execute and Deliver

If you’re in the gas exploration industry be sure the manufacturer of your FRP tank and products understands that maintaining supply, hauling hydrochloric acid, corrosive solutions, and meeting deadlines are critical to a successful operation. Be sure they can work efficiently and schedule effectively to meet your demands.

Lastly,  cheap ain’t good and good ani’t cheap, that’s an expression that’s been correct 100% of the time, at least in my experience—in this world you pay for what you get, so be sure to keep that in mind when selecting your FRP products.

Implementing FRP Pollution and Odor Control for Wastewater Treatment

frp pollution controlFiberglass Reinforced Plastic (FRP) components boast design flexibility and durability.  They are used in some capacity in most odor and air pollution control applications at wastewater treatment facilities. They have demonstrated usefulness in both biological odor control systems, as well as, industrial and municipal systems that utilize chlorine dioxide.  Furthermore, their corrosion resistant properties make them an ideal material to handle noxious and corrosive gases, such as hydrogen sulfide—a common byproduct of many wastewater treatment systems.

FRP has been employed in a wide range of waste water treatment applications, for example it is used to make scrubber vessels, pipe, ductwork, fans, stacks, and chemical feed systems.  In addition to direct use as odor control devices, FRP products are often used in wastewater applications for structures, such as grating and decking, or equipment that may be exposed to odorous and potentially corrosive environments.  One of the critical differences that truly separate FRP from metals and metal alloys is that it can be formulated to be corrosion and abrasion resistant in the harshest environments—this helps FRP achieve long service life in many applications from chemical processing, pulp and paper to petrochemical, water treatment, and mining and minerals.

According to a 2006 case study, titled, “Performance Validation of Shell-Media Biological Odor Control System,” published by the Water Environment Federation, a not- for profit technical and educational originization that represents water quality professionals around the world, FRP demonstrated it can play a key role in both structure and equipment demands. 

The pilot project was conducted by Orange County Utilities, Florida.  The test pilot used a shell-media based biological odor control system at the Stillwater Crossing Pump Station. The shell media has the desirable qualities of availability, low cost, long life, and high sustainability.  According to the study, the purpose of the pilot testing was to verify that the system could provide acceptable H2S and odor removal. A skid-mounted, modular pilot unit consisted of a bolted FRP paneled housing, seashell media, control panel, two FRP irrigation sumps, two water recirculation pumps, and a fan with unit-to-fan ductwork and a vertical exhaust stack.  A sampling program at the test site for duration of 8 months yielded good results in airflow and also demonstrated good odor removal efficiencies. 

Many questions still exist about what role FRP will play in this industry, but they have demonstrated their worth beyond this example as superior construction materials. Similarly, FRP have demonstrated their usefulness in plants that use chlorine dioxide, a powerful oxidant used for controlling noxious, irritating, or pungent odors.   FRP have many benefits that have made them ideal materials in the wastewater treatment industry.  For example, FRP have a high strength-to-weight ratio, offer impact resistance, UV resistance, are smoke and flame retardant, possess good dimensional stability, will not take on moisture, and are electrically and thermally non-conductive.


Five Unique Characteristics of FRP

characteristics of frpFiber Reinforced Polymers (FRP) are unique composite materials in many respects.  For starters, they can be formulated to be corrosion, abrasion, and UV resistant, as well as, smoke and fire retardant.  FRP are often a cost-effective choice in many industrial applications; they have long life cycles and have demonstrated durability in stringent environments with reduced maintenance costs.  Here are five reasons FRP stand out when compared to metals and metal alloys.

  1. High Strength-to-Weight Ratio FRP are lightweight and strong; they posses a vast range of mechanical properties, including tensile, flexural, impact and compressive strengths.  When compared to most other metals they can deliver more strength per unit of weight then most metals.  Their light weight also lends itself well to logistics—it’s easier to ship and install.
  2. Customizable- Every industry has unique problems to solve. With FRP engineers have the ability to tailor or modify the design of their FRP to meet their specific requirements.  For example, consider the benefits of altering resin, glass content to optimize your corrosion and or abrasion resistance—you can’t do this with metal. 
  3. Anisotropic- Engineers can maximize the performance and efficiency of the structure when they take advantage of the inherent anisotropic properties of FRP.  Because the maximum strength is in the direction of the fiber reinforcements engineers can optimize the design to optimize the materials and the overall performance of the structure.
  4. High Tensile Strength with Low Modulus of Elasticity-FRP have high tensile strength due to its composite properties.  Engineers can specify unique resin, fiber-reinforcement compositions when working with FRP manufactures.  The design control inherent to FRP will enhance performance and can only be realized when working with composites, not metals.
  5. Ability to Form Complex Shapes- Engineers can harness ultimate design flexibility when using FRP—an advantage over traditional materials such as metal, concrete, and wood.  When you integrate FRP design into your project into your project also consider the added benefits of part consolidation, noise reduction and streamlined design.

There are many other reasons one should consider using FRP.  For example, they offer high dialectical strength, thermal cycling, dimensional stability, impact resistance, low coefficient of friction, and do not require cathodic protection—just to name a few.

The real gem of FRP is that they are customizable and can be designed and modified to meet almost any chemical/physical requirement.  This is primarily why FRP have been chosen by so many industries as the material for corrosion resistance applications—where other materials fail, FRP thrives.  With so many benefits, it’s no wonder that FRP are viewed by so many as a cost-effective alternative to conventional materials.

A Tale of Two Materials – Chemical Resistance of FRP vs Alloys in Wet Processes

chemical resistance of frpThere are many important predictors of service life in industrial chemical processes; for example, humidity, temperature, pressure, and stress.   Similarly, chemical resistance is a key predictor of FRP service life in phosphate fertilizer processes where high chloride and fluoride levels exist.  FRP have a considerable chemical resistance advantage in corrosive environments and they are cheaper to fabricate—all good news considering there is an increased demand for new corrosion solutions in these plants.

According to a case study titled, “The Use of FRP in Phosphate Fertilizer and Sulphuric Acid Processes,” (2007) released by Ashland Performance Materials, Dublin, OH,  FRP made from epoxy vinyl ester resin has the chemical resistance necessary for long-term service life- in many cases 50 years and counting. When compared to Alloy C-276 (clad carbon steel), 2205 stainless steel, and nickel alloy, FRP demonstrated superior chemical resistance and cost-effectiveness in “wet process” phosphoric acid and sulfuric acid environments found in phosphate fertilizer plants.

Epoxy Vinyl Ester Resin Chemical Resistance Compared to Metal


Sulfuric Acid

Hydrochloric Acid

Acid Chloride Salts

FRP made with epoxy vinyl ester resin

100˚C to 30%

80˚C to 15%

100˚C all conc.

2205 stainless steel

30˚C to 30%

60˚C to 1%

65˚C to 2000ppm @lower pH

Alloy C-276

100˚C to 30%

80˚C to 15%

65˚C to 50ppm @ lower pH

* Taken from the 2007 Ashland Performance Materials Case Study-
 “The Use of FRP in Phosphate Fertilizer and Sulphuric Acid Processes”

The demand for corrosion resistant products began to increase in 2007 when nickel hit an all time high of $24/lb. According to the International Monetary Fund, as the global economy strengthens and developing nations increase their infrastructure build, base metal pricing – most notably copper, nickel and stainless steel are expected to continue their upward march.  While the price of nickel has come down considerably the market is generally considered volatile and the demand for corrosion resistant products continues to increase.

According to a different study released in 2011, by Ashland Performance materials, considerable savings can be realized when choosing FRP construction materials.  In 2011, shop and field fabricated FRP approximately cost $50-$75/Sq Ft. compared to 2205 stainless steel at $225/Sq Ft. and C-276 clad carbon steel at $330/Sq Ft. respectively.

So where does this leave FRP and is there any anticipated growth? According to a 2009 study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), titled “World Fertilizer Trends and Outlook to 2013,” based on longer-term population and income projections, global food production needs to increase more than 40% by 2030 and 70% by 2050 –all things considered the phosphate and FRP industry could stand to benefit from the projected increased demand for calories, combined with upward trending metal prices.

As global food production increases along side population growth, so will the need for phosphate bases fertilizers —FRP will be ready.  FRP are a superior chemical and corrosion resistant materials option, at a price much lower and much more stable than that of traditionally used alloys such as nickel- in “wet process” phosphate fertilizer plants.  Furthermore, FRP provide engineers, architects, and designers with a reliable, cost-effective construction material that can be employed in a myriad of corrosive applications.

5 Things You Should Know About Corrosives and FRP

corrosion resistanceIn our last post we talked about the need for education about FRP, and now we’re putting our money where our mouth is. Here are the 5 things you need to know about FRP and corrosives.

  1. When acids and bases attack and corrode metals; dangerous gases can often be given off.  For example, common bases such as sodium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide in concentration have been known to attack aluminum, zinc, galvanized metal and tin and give of hydrogen gas. 

FRP can be formulated to be corrosion resistant and have demonstrated long life cycles in extreme industrial environments.  For example, FRP gas scrubbing systems, at a phosphate fertilizer plant, exposed to aggressive flu gases consisting of hydrochloric acid, hydrofluoric acid, and phosphate dust at 60˚ C had a service life of 50 years—stainless steel could not withstand the highly corrosive mixture.  There are many more examples.

  1. Hydrogen gas is flammable and will burn or explode if an ignition source is present. 

Because FRP will not corrode there is no risk of releasing flammable gases such as hydrogen.  Hydrogen gas forms explosive mixtures with air if it is 4–74% concentrated and with chlorine if it is 5–95% concentrated. H2 mixtures can spontaneously explode by spark, heat or sunlight if proper conditions are present. H2 reacts with every oxidizing element. Hydrogen can react spontaneously and violently at room temperature with chlorine and fluorine.  Why take a chance?

  1. Contact with corrosives can damage containers, equipment, installations, and building components made from unsuitable materials.

FRP will not corrode; it will thrive and endure in stringent conditions where other materials fall short or fail.  FRP has been used successfully in a wide variety of applications in chemical processing, mining and minerals, nuclear, desalination, waste water treatment, nuclear, pulp and paper, and petrochemical. 

  1. Some corrosives are flammable, combustible, and can easily catch fire, burn, or explode.

FRP offer versatility, durability, design flexibility and superior containment.  FRP can be formulated to be corrosion and abrasion resistant, as well as, smoke and fire retardant.  FRP are not combustible.  FRP will not spark and will enhance the safety of your project.

  1. Corrosives can be incompatible with other chemicals.  They may undergo dangerous chemical reactions that yield or give off toxic fumes.

Why take a chance with toxic fumes, dangerous chemical reactions, and explosions? Use the proper material to protect your equipment, installations…and your future.  Protect your investments, enhance safety and employ FRP—the cost-effective choice that will solve many of your corrosion problems. 

FRP Corrosion Control: Education Can Improve Opportunities

frp corrosionIf you’ve been paying attention to fiberglass trends you’d know that corrosion, a serious problem that pits and corrodes most metals and metal alloys, has created huge market opportunities for Fiber Reinforced Polymers (FRP) including pipe, duct, and tanks.  Despite the many opportunities FRP manufactures have seized over the years, some major obstacles still persist, chief among them is education—or getting the word out. 

According to a 2012 article published in Composite Technologies, titled “Industrial Corrosion Control: Huge Opportunities,” lack of awareness or understanding of FRP benefits is ubiquitous among engineers.  There are a handful of other agents at work which have hindered FRP gaining traction in some industries.  Among them are a general unfamiliarity with FRP products; engineers are unsure of what resins or glass to select, reluctance to try a new material, thermal performance, the inability to distinguish good manufactures from bad, engineering departments at higher-education institutes, and economic paradigms.

Another commonly sighted impediment to FRP growth is new technological advancements and the uncertainties that they bring.  According to a 2009 study, released by the World Corrosion Organization, one such example is evident when considering carbon sequestration technology. Specifically, regarding large-scale underground storage of carbon dioxide, (generated from power plant exhaust gases), where nearly 40 pilot sites have been proposed, 10 of which are in the U.S. 

The report points out that the integrity of downhole tubing and cementing is strongly endangered by CO2 corrosion due to much more severe environmental conditions than normally encountered in traditional oil and gas production.   FRP are viewed by many as a cost-effective choice in instances like this because of their known abilities to withstand stringent, corrosive environments and demonstrate long life cycles with lower maintenance costs, but it will be up to manufactures and suppliers of FRP materials to make the case for composites and help educate and assist engineers.

More research is currently underway examining the environmental conditions and stresses that the material will be exposed to.  The many unknowns associated with Carbon and Capture Storage (CCS) technologies will need to be reviewed thoroughly—unknown concentrations of impurities such as oxygen, carbon monoxide (CO), and sulfur-containing gases like sulfur dioxide (SO2) or hydrogen sulfide (H2S) that are inevitably present in exhaust gases and are expected to be corrosive.  FRP are seen as a potential material solution in this for piping and other construction materials under such conditions.

Geothermal power production is another example where big opportunities for FRP exist with increased education and outreach.  In the geothermal industry, corrosion of plant equipment and structures within and around geothermal power generation facilities can be a major problem.  Issues with corrosion primarily arise due to the presence of salts, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), and silicates in the geothermal water, which cause localized corrosion and scale formation in wells and casings and power generating equipment. 

In both CCS and geothermal, technological advances have created new opportunities for FRP.   Many experts within each of these industries view FRP as a potential material solution for a variety of applications, but to overcome skepticism and uncertainty, education outreach efforts will need to be increased. Economic paradigms have already begun to shift in the past five to seven years, as the price of  metals have steadily rose allowing FRP to compete head to head against stainless steel and other alloys.  The bottom line is that as education regarding FRP continues so will the opportunities. 

For more information on our FRP and its uses, please visit us at

FRP for Ferric Chloride Tanks and Waste Water Treatment

ferric chloride tankFerric chloride or FeCl3, is an industrial scale commodity chemical compound that has many important industrial applications. When dissolved in water, FeCl3 undergoes hydrolysis and gives off heat in an exothermic reaction. The resulting brown, acidic, and corrosive solution is used as a flocculant in sewage treatment and drinking water production, and as an etchant for copper-based metals in printed circuit boards.

Ferric chloride is used in many industrial and sanitary wastewater treatment applications, due to its high efficiency, effectiveness in clarification, and utility as a sludge dewatering agent. Ferric chloride is sought after in waste water treatment because it is a superb flocculating and precipitating agent that can absorb colloids, clays, and bacteria.  Furthermore, ferric chloride is also one of the few water treatment chemicals that can sequester odors.

FRP and Ferric Chloride

Fiberglass Reinforced Polymers (FRP) have been used in the construction of corrosion resistant equipment in a multitude of applications including hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, caustic soda, and ferric chloride.  Our FRP offer superior corrosion resistance for ferric chloride at all concentrations.  As such, FRP corrosion resistant tanks are ideal for transportation, handling, and processing of ferric chloride and other corrosive materials. Where steel and other alloys fall short, FRP endures and outperforms conventional materials with lower maintenance costs, longer life cycles, and overall durability.

In the waste water industry, FRP are typically used for clarifiers, basins, tanks, reservoirs, filters(e.g. trickling, roughing, bio), scum baffles, weirs, flumes (e.g. Cutthroat, Parshall, Palmer-Bowlus), influent/effluent channels, gates, stop logs, skimmers and manholes, filter media support grids, elevated platforms and walkways, odor covers, trench and vault covers —among much else.

In the past, ferric chloride tanks were primarily constructed out of rubber lined steel or plastic lined steel, however FRP are now considered a cost-effective alternative that offer many benefits. We offer exceptional FRP that perform well in waste water environments.  Our composites are lightweight, high strength, corrosion/rot resistant, will not swell, or take on moisture, and can be retrofitted to existing municipal and industrial water and wastewater systems.