Developments to Watch
A NEW GLASS FIBER GIVES A LOT WITH A LITTLE
Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp. has developed a new glass fiber called Miraflex. Unlike the short, straight fibers of traditional fiberglass, Miraflex fibers are long, wavy, and soft. When made into insulation, they are highly resilient. A roll of Miraflex insulation could be squeezed down to 9.6 inches in diameter for shipping, then fluffed up when installed to the same thickness as standard insulation that comes in 22-inch-diameter rolls, says David J. Gaul, the technical project leader. Owens-Corning says it expects Miraflex to be used in a very wide range of products, including textiles.
Competitors would love to know how Owens-Corning makes the stuff, but the company won't give details until patents on the new fiber come out next year. Gaul says each filament has two different kinds of glass. One kind cools more quickly than the other, which causes the filament to twist randomly. Glass fibers are made when molten glass is spun around and flies out through holes in the side of a drum. A blast of hot air causes it to "attenuate" into lots of tiny fibers. Gaul will say only that Owens-Corning changed that process somehow to make Miraflex.EDITED BY EMILY T. SMITH