FRP Panels in the Medical Industry

FRP Panels in the Medical Industry

Sep 17th 2019

The Benefits of Building with FRP n the Medical Industry

As the FRP industry grows, the number of applicatons grows as well. It’s no secret that this material’s durability has made it a favorite across a variety of uses, from industrial spaces to office buildings. Today, I want to look an a specialized use - the medical field - and get down to the nitty gritty of why FRP board is the best building material possible for buildings in the medical industry.

The medical industry is not a stranger to FRP materials. Because of its low porosity and incredible durability, FRP is used in the making of sanitary covers for medical instruments, and due to the fact that it allows X-Rays to pass through, it has also been used to make up certain components in an X-Ray room. But what about it’s applications as a pure building material? Let’s find out.

FRP Panels Are Made For Harsh Conditions

FRP has many practical applications, but it has been proven to shine in the harshest environments. It has been used to construct chemical plants, laboratories, correctional facilities, and has even been used in marine construction, where it’s load-bearing capabilities have been tested against the weight, pressure, and corrosive power of the ocean. But what makes it the best choice possible for the medical industry? Let’s talk about the features that make FRP one of the toughest materials around.

FRP is a low-porosity material.

This quality is one that has proven to make FRP useful for medical applications in the past. Shields for medical tools that are meant to keep them safe are sterile are already constructed with this sturdy material, because FRP does not absorb environmental additives well. When those environmental additives are bodily fluids, porosity of material can be a huge concern, as choosing the wrong one could make a sterile environment impossible. Using FRP panels to build the walls of medical facilities maintains the sterility of the environment and protects immune-compromised patients by preventing the spread of disease.

FRP Panels are low in weight, but high in strength.

Medical facilities must be built to last.

These aren’t throwaway buildings. In the long term, we have to think of places like hospitals and doctor’s offices as investments in our own future, designed to stand the test of time - and FRP panels can extend the life of a hospital a significant amount.

The secret is in the density. Did you know? The general density of FRP material is 1.5 - 2.0, which is about 20% of the density brought to the table by carbon steel, one of the most typical building materials. That is impressive in and of itself, but then you compare the tensile strengths, and it gets even better.

The tensile strength of FRP is the same or more than carbon steel. Because of this, FRP panels have the potential to seriously outlast traditional steel infrastructure, making it the best choice for structures built to last a long, long time.

FRP is a Cost-Effective Solution

One of our favorite hallmarks of this product is that in the long run, it costs less money.

When planning a building, oftentimes those in charge of budgeting only take into consideration the purchase cost of a building material. With steel, though, there are hidden costs to consider. As we’ve already explored, steel is five times as heavy as FRP board, and will cost more to be shipped and transported. Installation can also be tricky, calling for the need of expensive processes like cutting and welding. It will also need replacement more quickly than FRP board will, due to the fact that FRP panels oftentimes have a higher tensile strength.

In contrast, FRP is lighter and therefore it is less expensive to transport and install. It can be removed more simply, and owing to the lightweight qualities of the product, it will degrade more slowly than traditional steel. This means that less maintenance - and more importantly, less replacement - will be required over the course of the structure’s lifespan, cutting costs significantly in the long term.

What impact does this have on medical applications? On the whole, it means that medical facilities become a lower-risk investment, opening pathways for more of them to be built in the long run. If they can be maintained without wild and unchecked expense, then strain can be lessened on a population’s medical facilities by creating more of them. In the short term, worrying about the transportation of heavy steel materials will cut your costs significantly, bringing labor costs down to manageable levels and allowing for a quicker build time.

FRP Panels Are Corrosion Resistant

In the last section we talked about the strength of FRP panels, and how they contribute to a lower cost point by cutting down on the necessity for maintenance.

Corrosion resistance is the second component in the need for less maintenance. FRP, which is a sort of plastic that is reinforced with glass fibers and set with resin, is naturally corrosion resistant due to the thermosetting resin that is often used to make it. Harsh chemicals don’t make a dent in it because the resin is practically impermeable, and therefore maintenance needs are fewer and further between.

In a medical environment, harsh chemicals are an everyday truth. From medicines, industrial-grade cleaning products, chemicals used in medical testing, and medical waste, it’s an absolute necessity to make sure that the building materials that are being used to create a medical environment can withstand the wear and tear of constant chemical use. Anywhere there is a laboratory, there is a chance for chemical erosion to have a severe impact on the structure, and so careful planning, and building with proper materials, is absolutely key.

FRP Panels are Flame Retardant

Flame retardant material is important in any building product, but in a medical facility, your choices could have a significant impact, so the choices must be weighed carefully. Oftentimes you’ll be dealing with large facilities full of impaired patients, and staff who must see to the safety of those patients while also seeing to their own. When choosing a building material, you can make this process less dangerous by selecting the right one.

“Flame spread” is a term used to indicate the burning behaviors of building materials, with asbestos cement board ( zero flame spread) to red oak flooring (out of control flame spread) as the ends of each spectrum. For the safest possible building material, the flame spread number needs to be as close to zero as possible. Similarly, the smoke point of a material (I.e. - the density of the smoke produced when burning) is measured using the same standard.

Most if not all FRP has flame retardant properties, but of the three types, Class A FRP has a low smoke point and a flame spread of under 25. This means that not only, in an emergency fire situation, would the material be resistant to flames and spread less quickly, but it would also make the winding corridors of a large medical facility less difficult to navigate, because the material would be less likely to create large amounts of smoke. Going with Class A FRP ensures than in an emergency situation, the building’s occupants are less likely to encounter flame at all, and if they do, they’ll have a better chance of escape, and a significantly lessened chance of death or injury due to smoke inhalation damage.

FRP Is Nonslip

Simply put, the friction factor of a flooring material will tell you how slippery it is, both dry and wet. The higher the number, the more slip-resistant a material will be.

For most floor types, when a flooring becomes wet, the friction factor drops significantly, and the floor becomes unsafe. For example, a plain concrete floor has a friction factor of .8 when dry, but when it becomes we, that number plummets to .2, creating a safety hazard. This is a problem in any building, but in a medical building where most things are urgent, there’s no time for mistakes, and wet or oily substances abound, the choice of a flooring can be a life-or-death decision.

Fortunately, flooring made of FRP board doesn’t present such a problem. When dry, it has a friction factor of 1.2, and when wet, that factor drops a mere .01, remaining a steady and dry surface at 1.1. In fact, FRP flooring remains safer wet than most floorings are when they’re dry!

Keeping the floor sturdy and safe creates fewer accidents in any situation, but places like hospitals and doctors’ offices, keeping someone on their feet in an emergency situation can keep a person alive. In addition to the savings in human cost, it will also reduce prices monetarily. Hospitals will see a reduction in workplace safety related accidents, and experience a reduction in injury-related cost, so that a doctor’s precious time isn’t lost on a turned ankle or the injuries from a fall.

Medical Facilities Need FRP

Simply put, FRP is the best possible building material for medical facilities. It fosters a clean, sterile environment, lasts longer than traditional materials and requires less maintenance and upfront cost, and in case of an emergency, will protect both the workers and the patients within. Hospitals and doctors offices are the settings of some of the most important moments of our lives, and one small fault can be the difference between a happy ending, and one with disastrous consequences.

When choosing FRP panels for the construction of a medical facility, you’re creating an environment that saves lives. Create the best one possible.