Phenolic is the name usually given to a resin made of phenol and an aldehyde. It is used anywhere rigid materials are needed, particularly to create moldings for consumer products, for some bearings, for insulation, and as a binder.
Phenolic may also be used as a term to describe the entire class of phenols. These are simple hydrocarbon groups, similar to alcohols. Phenolic compounds are varied, ranging everywhere from the heat agent in chili peppers to dopamine to the cresols from creosote. While the word phenolic may be used individually to refer to these compounds, the term phenolic compound is more appropriate.
Phenolic resins may be made by combining simple phenol with any number of aldehydes, but the combination made with formaldehyde, known as phenolic formaldehyde resin, or PF, is the most widely used. Phenolic resin was the first synthesized resin, and was marketed under the brand name Bakelite, which still exists. The majority of formaldehyde produced is used with phenol and other organic compounds to create resins, which are used extensively in industry.
Phenolic is the material used for most consumer fittings. Plugs on electronic devices, handles for pots and pans, and the screw-tops on most sodas are just a few applications for which phenolic is widely used. Its affordability and the ease with which it is molded make phenolic an ideal candidate whenever a cheap plastic is needed.
Phenolic is also used frequently as the binding agent to hold together composite woods, including chipboard and plywood. Phenolic is somewhat brittle as a binding agent, which is seen by some as a disadvantage, but it lets out very little smoke if it combusts, and at higher grades can be resistant to temperatures in excess of 370°F (185°C). As insulation, phenolic also sees a fair amount of use. Its easy setting and affordability make it ideal in some situations. Phenolic has a high thermal mass, making it a relatively strong thermal insulator in comparison to some other low-cost insulating solutions.
Sheets of material made from phenolic are popular as an alternative to acrylic, because of its high resistance to flexing. These flat plates of material may be used as tables for electric saws, hard floor mats, and even pick guards for guitars. Phenolic sheet is usually made by impregnating a core material, such as paper or fabric, with the resin and then catalyzing it.
(Additional facts not in original article)
- Clutch facings
- Decorative laminates
- Electrical insulators
- Terminal blocks
- Motor components
- Arc Barriers
- Switchboard Panels
- Circuit beaker parts
PAPER REINFORCED PHENOLIC
NEMA XX per MIL-I-24768 PBG
Normal electrical applications, moderate mechanical strength
continuous operating temperature of 250°F
CANVAS REINFORCED PHENOLIC
NEMA C per MIL-I-24768 TYPE FBM
NEMA CE per MIL-I-24768 TYPE FBG
Good mechanical and impact strength
Continuous operating temperature of 250°F
LINEN REINFORCED PHENOLIC
NEMA L per MIL-I-24768 TYPE FBI
NEMA LE per MIL-I-24768 TYPE FEI
Good mechanical & electrical strength
Recommended for intricate high strength parts
Continuous operating temperature 250°F
NYLON REINFORCED PHENOLIC
NEMA N-1 per MIL-I-24768 TYPE NPG
Superior electrical properties under humid conditions
continuous operating temperature of 160°F
Glass Fibre Grades