Only about once in a generation does a revolutionary new product development come along to successfully challenge all others that have gone before it – and to provide so many additional benefits over its predecessors as to render them virtually obsolete from day one CMILC.
Examples would be steel hulled ships instead of timber in the early 20th Century or the jet engine instead of propeller driven in the 1950’s. More modest examples would be music cassettes replacing gramophone records in the 1970’s, to be replaced themselves by CD’s in the 1990’s. Technology is unstoppable!
Plastic materials were first invented in 1904 but by the 1940’s these durable thermosetting resins had been blended with glass fibres for phenomenal extra strength and then moulded to be used for the hulls of fast, light weight, motor torpedo boats (MTBs) to devastating effect during WW2, recording speeds of over 40 mph. Impossible with the dead weight of steel hulls.
The same technology is still used today for RNLI Lifeboats to give maximum strength, lightness and speed. Perhaps surprisingly, the critically important nose cone on NASAs Space Shuttle comes from the same basic material.
These incredibly strong and durable composite compounds are Fibre Reinforced Polymers (FRPs) and until 1990’s could only be produced manually in a mould (hand laid) or in a high pressure flat press to make sheets for, say, high performance composite door skins.
Around the same time, Aluminium was first created and widelt used in aircraft design and for building products like windows, curtain walling, display equipment, etc. The lesser demanding window applications for housing that generally require smaller windows than offices were subsequently replaced by thermoplastic PVC but this material does not have the inherent strength to challenge aluminium in larger and more demanding applications.
Thus PVC windows grew to dominate the housing market, whilst aluminium became the dominant supplier to the non-housing commercial market.
This continued for 30 years, until now.
Two things occurred towards the end of the 20th Century to upset this status quo – namely, a) Climate Change and b) The development of ‘Pultrusion’, a continuous manufacturing process for FRP.