Cut-to-Length Measurement of Fiberglass Posted in: Length Measurement – Tags:

Fiberglass manufacturing and cut-to-length operations are on the rise with the industry projected to nearly double in growth by 2032.(1)

The various advantages of fiberglass all come together to create a versatile product: It’s lightweight, strong, and insulative, providing a diverse set of capabilities that serve industries ranging from automotive and construction to aerospace and energy.

As fiberglass manufacturers work to improve their production processes, they often turn to non-contact measurement options such as laser sensors to boost efficiency and improve precision.

When exploring non-contact options for measuring fiberglass, it’s helpful to consider the common problems that can arise and the various best practices for cut-to-length measurements.

Does the material need to be directly measured? Can a proxy be substituted? Is a retroreflective material needed to improve accuracy for uncooperative targets?

In this article, we provide an overview of common challenges, best practices, and tips to help make fiberglass cut-to-length and thickness measurement systems successful.

Why Fiberglass Cut-To-Length Measurements are Hard

Typically made of epoxy or polyester resin, fiberglass is a composite material that consists of fiber-reinforced plastic embedded in a matrix.

It can be flattened into sheets, woven into glass cloth, or molded into complex shapes with relative ease.

However, fiberglass can be notoriously hard to measure and cut. Especially when tolerance requirements are tight, the unique properties of some fiberglass products can add challenging variables to an otherwise easy measurement.

First, many types of fiberglass have translucent properties. The reflectivity and potential for refraction can make certain types of fiberglass measurement systems infeasible.

In addition, fiberglass is often hollow, see-through, or contains air pockets that can make it difficult to find a consistent surface for reliable measurements.

Finally, fiberglass tends to have varying densities and surface profiles throughout the material. Due to this variability, repeatability over time can be challenging to achieve.

Cut-To-Length Methods for Fiberglass

The advantages of a fiberglass cut-to-length measurement system includes reducing the waste of core materials, enabling tighter tolerances, and allowing for quicker and more efficient production.

If the type of fiberglass being measured is cooperative enough, then a blue laser sensor can be an effective option to make cut-to-length measurements head-on.

Given the complexity of fiberglass as a material, it can be tricky to make cut-to-length measurements head-on for certain types of fiberglass.

In these cases, alternative measurement approaches can be explored to simplify cut-to-length operations and make precise measurements possible.

Rather than measuring the fiberglass material directly, one method is to utilize a “set-to-length” system where one (or more) sensors act as a limit switch to trigger changes or cut once a specific length has been reached.

To do this, laser sensors can be positioned on a moving track which enables them to be positioned anywhere along the length of the line. Two sensors could work in conjunction to trigger a slowdown of the material and then a full stop of the material on the production line once it reaches a certain length.

Typical sensors involved in this method could include the AS1100 Long Distance Sensor or the AR200 Laser Measurement Sensor.

This approach creates an adjustable system for measuring fiberglass length regardless of material composition.

If somehow neither a set-to-length or head-on measurement will work, you may need to explore using a specific surface or target on the fiberglass to make it easier to measure.

Dimensional Measurements for Fiberglass Cut-to-Length

Sometimes all a fiberglass manufacturer wants is the ability to tighten their tolerances and gain more control over the ability to cut their product to different lengths.

However, some fiberglass products require more than just length measurements. Width, thickness, and even density are all potential measurements that can be invaluable to the right fiberglass manufacturing processes.

The same difficulties with fiberglass cut-to-length applies to these applications, except the methodologies and mechanical setup will be different.

For example, thickness and width have similarities to a cut-to-length measurement. However, the orientation of sensors on a production line will be different and the methodology must change to account for new variables.

Given the light, airy nature of fiberglass products, any thickness or width measurements would need to address any oscillation or movement that could add measurement errors. To do this, a dual-opposing measurement system could be used.

For certain types of fiberglass, a single-point laser sensor wouldn’t work for measuring density, thickness, or width.

In these cases, a 2D/3D profile scanner would need to be used. Because a profilometer uses thousands of laser lines, it has the potential to get a better sense for fiberglass surfaces and provide a more accurate picture of fiberglass dimensions and composition.

Cutting Methods for Fiberglass

Once a non-contact measurement method has been proven, another common need for fiberglass manufacturers is a cutting method to go with their cut-to-length measurement.

While Acuity Laser focuses on precision measurement, companies like Xometry can provide laser cutting services to provide more efficient cutting operations.

These types of companies can precisely cut and mark products with a focused beam of electromagnetic energy.

However, any cutting system needs to be properly commissioned and maintained due to the potential for toxic fumes to be released during the cutting process.

Another popular cutting method seen in the fiberglass industry is the use of a circular rolling blade. Combined with a zero-point clamp to hold the fiberglass in place at a certain length, the blade can roll across the width of the product and cut with ease.


Despite the challenges of making quality fiberglass products, the industry continues to see growth as demand for fiberglass increases worldwide.

Cut-to-length fiberglass measurements can be incredibly difficult to pull off, especially a system that can be precise, efficient, and simple for an operator to manage.

As always, the Acuity team is ready to help with your measurement challenges. We offer our engineering team as a resource to help explore applications, scope projects, or plan for implementation.

To speak to an expert about an application or get assistance on a project needing precision measurement, please reach out to our sales team at .

Sarah Maywalt
Inside Technical Sales and Support at Acuity Laser | Website

Sarah has been our technical support and sales engineer for 5+ years. If you've ever reached out to Acuity Laser for tech support, more than likely, Sarah is the one who helped you.