Beetle Plastics and Inbound Marketing

Beetle PlasticsWe’re very excited to share with you an article about Beetle Plastics in this month’s edition of Composites Manufacturing.

The article, “Taking Care of Business: Profitable Companies Care As Much About Shrewd Business Practices As They Do About Production,” was written by Terin Bufford and Susan Keen Flynn of Composites Manufacturing. Profiling three composites manufacturing  companies across a wide range of industries, the article looks at the tactics the three companies use that bring together operations, human resources, marketing, sales, and finance.

Bufford and Flynn focused on Beetle Plastics recent forays into inbound marketing as a way to attract and convert customers online. Highlighting the new content creation and lead nurturing efforts that Beetle has engaged in, the article illustrated the power of inbound marketing even for B2B manufacturing companies.

Check out the full article on page 15 of the November-December 2013 edition of Composites Manufacturing.

And a special thanks goes out to Top Line Results, the people that introduced us to, and help us with, inbound marketing.

FRP vs Aluminum: A Snapshot Comparison of Two Materials

frp vs aluminumFRP and Fiberglass

Fiberglass is ubiquitous in a wide range of industries from pulp and paper, wastewater, desalination, and power generation to mining and mineral extraction, marine, petrochemical and chemical processing. There are significant differences with respect to mechanical properties when comparing fiberglass or fiber reinforced polymers (FRP) with metals such as steel or aluminum. Fiberglass is anisotropic, that is, they posses mechanical properties only in the direction of the applied load. In other words, their best mechanical properties are in the direction of the fiber placement. Conversely, steel and aluminum are isotropic, giving them uniform properties in all directions, independent of the applied load.

Fiberglass has exceptional inherent dimensional stability potential due to its unique formulations. Because composites are customizable, they can be designed to maximize the benefits of structural properties. Furthermore, fiberglass materials are often selected by engineers for applications requiring stringent dimensional stability under a variety of extreme conditions. Good dimensional stability or structure, and other properties such as lightweight, strength, toughness, damage tolerance, fatigue and fracture resistance, notch sensitivity, and general durability, make fiberglass desirable for many applications. Moreover, the inherent corrosion resistant characteristic of fiberglass makes it a cost-­‐effective, strong, lightweight solution for corrosion resistant equipment applications in a multitude of industries including chemical processing, wastewater management, and oil and gas.

When comparing strength of materials of equivalent thicknesses and sizes, fiberglass will weigh one seventh as much as steel and half as much as aluminum. There are other very distinct advantages to having specific strength. For example, lightweight properties are important when considering the cost and ease of installation, especially for pipe and tank. FRP has another inherent edge over other products when equipment must be mounted on uneven services, existing structures, such as scrubbers, and on mezzanines or rooftops. Having lightweight properties also works well for specialty applications such as tank trailers.


Aluminum is an abundant element in the Earth’s crust that is widely used throughout the world in a broad range of applications, almost always as an alloy for construction purposes. Its unique combination of properties makes aluminum one of the most versatile engineering and construction materials. Aluminum is refined through the Bayer Process from aluminum ore or bauxite and once refined can be easily formed, machined and cast.

Some key properties include lightweight (about 1/3 mass, of equivalent volumes of steel, copper), excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, highly reflective to radiant energy, highly corrosion resistant to air and water (including sea water), and it’s highly workable into almost any structural shape. Corrosion resistance is a crucial property that can’t be overlooked; when aluminum is exposed to atmospheric conditions a thin oxide layer forms and protects the metal from further oxidation—this makes aluminum attractive as long-­‐term viable solution for many applications. This coating or layer provides protection and allows aluminum to often be used without any type of coating or paint.

One of the most important components of aluminum’s corrosion resistance is that the aluminum oxide layer formed is impermeable, adheres well to the parent material, and if damaged the oxide layer can repair itself immediately, generally speaking the layer is stable in a pH range of 4-­‐9.

So how does aluminum react in chemical environments? Generally speaking aluminum has good resistance to many organic compounds and some moderately alkaline water solutions, and most inorganic salts. As such aluminum materials are often used in the production and storage of many chemicals. One point of interest, for this article involves the pH range. A low or high pH range (below 4 or above 9) can lead to the oxide layer dissolving and corrosive attack. For example inorganic acids, strong alkaline solutions, and heavy metal salts are extremely corrosive to aluminum.

A key takeaway from this article, with respect to aluminum, is that there are important corrosion resistant limitations, and or chemical resistance limitations. For example, aluminum is susceptible to pitting corrosion, this typically happens in the presence of an electrolyte in dissolved salts, usually chlorides. Fiberglass is not susceptible to pitting corrosion in the presence of chlorides.

As with any material, limitations of one create opportunities for others. For example, aluminum is not compatible with, and should not be used in applications that included hydrochloric acid or sulfuric acid. Similarly it is not recommended for service environments that contain chlorine, sodium hypochlorite and ferric chloride, thus making it not an ideal candidate for some wastewater treatment applications.
Conversely, fiberglass has excellent corrosion properties for organic and inorganic compounds, alkaline and acidic environments including chemical resistance to the chemicals mentioned above. Fiberglass is now commonly used in wastewater treatment and or chemical processing applications using sodium hypochlorite, chlorine and or ferric chloride.

Similarly, there are structural property limits such as fatigue strength or fatigue limit that must be considered by engineers. For example, aluminum has no defined fatigue limit (fatigue failure eventually occurs) engineers must assess loads and designs for a fixed life. In contrast, when designed properly, fiberglass does not

creep, and has outstanding dimensional stability; fiberglass is strong lightweight and durable and in many cases a cost-­‐effective solution.

To summarize, fiberglass has a higher-­‐strength to weight ratio and better corrosion resistance in a wide range of chemical applications, when compared to aluminum. When working with fiberglass corrosion resistance can be enhanced by modifying the corrosion barrier to design specifications. Both offer design flexibility and some degree cost-­‐effectiveness with respect to reduced maintenance and long life cycles. An important structural difference is that fiberglass is anisotropic, while aluminum is isotropic. Both are limited by manufacturing processes and design.

Fiberglass Tanks and the Storage of Caustic Soda

caustic soda storage tanksLiquid caustic soda is corrosive. Currently caustic soda is stored in fiberglass, stainless steel, carbon steel, low-carbon steel, lined steel and plastic materials. The nature of the service environment, including the temperature and concentration, will largely determine which materials are most appropriate. Due to the dynamic nature of chemical storage and chemical processes, it is important to not search for a panacea. Instead there are many opportunities for employing a multitude of materials, where fiberglass can be an excellent choice, depending on circumstance. For example, when storing caustic soda, stress cracking and embrittlement in unlined soft steel has been know to occur when liquid temperatures exceed 45 degrees Celsius. Other considerations such as the use of compressed air during unloading will affect the choice of materials and also operating conditions with respect to those materials.

Storage materials are just one facet of the much larger framework, which once must consider with respect to design elements. Other considerations may likely include, but are not limited to, cavitation, solidification, pressure, vacuum, filling lines, vent lines, overflow lines, tank fluid measurements, tank foundations, tank supports and secondary containment structures when specified by relevant laws and regulations.

The purpose of this article is to identify fiberglass as a key caustic soda storage material, identify benefits of using fiberglass for the storage of corrosive materials and to outline Beetle’s custom tank offerings. A key takeaway from this article is evident when endusers, leverage the inherent strengths of fiberglass, specifically long life cycles, whereby degrees of cost-effectiveness may be realized. Another key takeaway relates to the enhancement of complex design through integration; the constructability of our fiberglass materials imparts the ability to interface to pre-existing design elements or infrastructure; this point also emphasizes design flexibility as a key characteristic of fiberglass in general.

The edict that fiberglass is an excellent corrosive storage material, with many benefits passed on to end-users, is not new. Many scholars and industry professionals alike have cogently argued that fiberglass is a superior construction material when one considers the entirety of its benefits portfolio. The key benefits of fiberglass pertinent to this topic include: light-weight, high strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance via customizable corrosion barriers or liners, ease of repair, non-reactive, reduced-maintenance costs, durability, constructability and cost-effectiveness.

Beetle offers single-source design build capabilities combined with over 50 years of fiberglass experience; our products are venerated by a multitude of industries because we understand how to execute and deliver custom fiberglass products. Our tanks and vessels are employed in broad range of applications; we offer horizontal tanks, vertical tanks, chemical storage tanks, chemical vessels, as well as, transport tankers. We offer standard diameters up to 14 feet, with custom diameters available, standard materials or custom formulations.

When designing corrosion resistant fiberglass materials for caustic soda, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, or any other corrosive substance the corrosion barrier will be critical. The corrosion barrier is typically fabricated with a resin-rich liner or corrosion barrier, followed by a glass-rich structural wall. The corrosion barrier is one component of the entire laminates schedule; it is a critical layer that must be designed properly in order to ensure effectiveness, safety and performance of your fiberglass product. We hope that this article has provided you with some basic details regarding fiberglass as an effective material of construction for caustic soda and other corrosives.