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Learning to do fiberglass work can be a great help for do-it-yourself repair enthusiasts as well as entrepreneurs looking for a business opportunity. Glass-reinforced plastics (GRP) and fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are used in a wide range of products from boats and cars to shower stalls, decks, jet skis, motorcycles and kitchen appliances. By mastering the use of fiberglass, you will be able to repair, build and modify products while making a handsome profit.
Most products made of fiberglass utilize the same materials, with the exception of the topcoat. You will need resin, mats, fillers, forms and other tools to get started. Look for a website or retailer that can supply all the necessary tools. Sites such as Fiberglass Industries and Fiberglast carry complete lines of resins and tools for any type of fiberglass work, from small patchwork to major refurbishing and building projects. Tap Plastics is a good source for complete kits to perform small repair jobs.
You can learn the basics of fiberglass work through any number of websites, books and training videos. Hands-on training can be useful to fine-tune your knowledge and help you work out the kinks in the processes discovered through your reading. Professionals at organizations like Hands-On Fiberglass Training can set up in-house seminars at boat yards, through local clubs and other groups; the organization offers a six-hour course that can answer questions and guide students through an actual project. The American Boat Builders and Repairers Association offers both online and in-house training that leads to a composite repair technician certification. The North Carolina Marine Training and Education Center offers a variety of two-day programs in composite fiberglass repair and marine spray finishing. Instructors can guide beginners in the fine details of the work and provide guidance on technique.
For career advancement or entry-level job opportunities, a degree in fiberglass work can be useful. You'll typically find schools located on a body of water that provide hands-on training on watercraft. The University of Hawaii offers an associate's degree in applied science for boat repair, maintenance and fabrication. In addition to skills in working with fiberglass, students learn how to assess damage on a boat with the latest diagnostic tools, calculate costs of repairs and building jobs, and perform safety checks. Lake Career and Technical College in Missouri offers a two-year degree in auto repair that includes fiberglass training that can be used to fix Corvettes and other vehicles that incorporate fiberglass parts.
- Michal Zacharzewski