Surfers, Swimmers, Boaters Run Into Summer-Disrupting Fiberglass Shortage



Brett Haensel | Bloomberg News

Swimming-pool construction has slowed to a crawl. Surfboard manufacturers are disappointing customers who dream of hanging 10. Waiting lists for new boats stretch on for months. There’s a common culprit: fiberglass.

The glittery, lightweight material goes into so many common outdoor products that it’s hard to imagine summertime without it. The supply-chain snarls show how broader forces in international trade, supply and demand have rippled through industries in the past year, leading to higher prices and slowing commerce.

Fiberglass is made by extruding glass into strands measured in microns that are then combined and woven in various ways. Some pool manufacturers use fiberglass exclusively. Most surfboards include a foam core wrapped in fiberglass and resin, and the hulls of most modern boats also are built with those composite materials. It’s used in car parts and recreational vehicles, among other things.

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