Phenolic plastics are produced by applying heat and pressure to layers of paper or glass cloth (nylon, linen, or canvas most commonly) and filling with synthetic resins such as epoxies, melamines, silicones, or polyesters. When pressed, the single layers produce a dense and sturdy sheet that can be used in a variety of engineering applications. Because of their electrical insulating characteristics, phenolics are used often in electrical components including circuit boards and antenna insulation. In other products, phenolic sheets are used as a lighter weight and less expensive, but just as viable and functional, alternative to aluminum. In the world of plastics, phenolic is often used as a less flexible alternative to acrylic.
Because they are composed, to a degree, of less expensive materials such as cotton or paper, phenolic plastics are generally more cost effective than other plastics similar in strength and durability. In addition, the fiber and resin-base adds a unique reinforcement quality you won’t find in other plastics.
Phenolic machining and phenolic fabrication is very common and relatively simple depending on the grade and components of the phenolic in question. For instance, linen reinforced phenolic is smoother and easier to machine for phenolic fabricators than, say, canvas reinforced phenolic (although canvas will be sturdier).
In terms of phenolic distribution and sales, phenolic plastic is typically sold in cut-to-size sheets of varying thicknesses and grades depending on the application for which they’ll be used. It is also available in rods of differing diameters. For specifics on phenolic applications or phenolic fabrication options, contact the team at JC Finley.