The Advantages and Applications of Phenolic Material

Various types of materials offer advantages for machining and manufacturing applications. Providing favorable characteristics, phenolic materials are engineered to deliver dimensional stability, dielectric strength, and resistance to impact, compression, and tension. Understand the advantages and material properties of phenolic plastics and similar non-phenolic composite materials compatible with manufacturing durable, high-performance components, electrical and insulation applications, and more.

What is Phenolic Plastic?

Phenolic plastics are woven fabric or material layers, such as paper, canvas, fiberglass, or linen, held together with phenolic resin. Created by phenol reacting to formaldehyde under heat and pressure, phenol-formaldehyde resin is the commercial polymer that produces the chemical reaction determining the material properties of phenolic plastics. Water is expelled from the catalyst during the reaction, and the material thermosets into laminated sheets or formed stock shapes, fusing the layers into phenolic material. There are many phenolic-type materials used in machining and manufacturing, including:

  • Paper-reinforced phenolic
  • Canvas and linen phenolics
  • Nylon-reinforced phenolic (N-1)
  • Glass-reinforced phenolic (G-3)
  • Non-phenolic fiber-reinforced composites

Features and Material Properties of Phenolic Plastics

Generally, phenolic materials are non-metallic, insulative, strong, and exhibit good workability for machining. However, depending on the ratio of phenol to formaldehyde, polymerization variation, working temperature, and other potential variables, the molecular weight and crosslinking characteristics are altered, contributing to differences in the material properties of phenolics. Potential features of phenolic plastics with paper, canvas, linen, fiberglass, or nylon bases may include:

  • Thinner material density
  • Increased durability
  • Moisture and humidity resistance
  • Improved impact, tension, and compression resistance
  • High-friction or high-wear capabilities

At Upland Fab, we work with all grades of phenolic, as well as G10-F4 and G11 fiber-reinforced composites. Made from glass-reinforced epoxy resins initially designed to replace phenolics in PCBs glass-reinforced epoxies have unique features for mechanical and electrical applications.

Non-phenolic composites G10-F4 and G11 are extremely high-strength and difficult to machine with increased dimensional stability over temperature. G10-F4 is fire-retardant and is slightly stronger than G11, while G11 is a better insulator that can withstand higher temperatures. These non-phenolic composites are common in manufacturing due to their low moisture absorption and chemical-resistant properties, even at high temperatures.

Applications of Phenolic Plastics and Glass-Epoxy Composites

Phenolic and epoxy-glass materials have excellent properties for various industries, but some formulations have more favorable attributes for specific applications. Still, all phenolic-type materials demonstrate dimensional stability, excellent dielectric strength, and mechanical strength for applications that require close tolerances. Applications that prioritize manufacturing with phenolic plastics include:

  • Countertops and scientific or industrial work surfaces
  • Printed circuit boards (PCBs) and terminal boards
  • High-temperature, high-speed, and high-wear components
  • Structural components
  • Acid-resistant gaskets
  • Electrical insulation and heating/appliance insulation
  • And more

Machining High-Strength Materials for High-Performance Applications at Upland Fab

There are many advantages and applications for phenolic plastics and epoxy-glass composites across industries. With 50 years of experience, Upland Fab can work with tough-to-machine G10-FR4 and G11 for mechanical and electrical applications to deliver high-strength components and assemblies for your applications. Our team of experts will keep communication open and ongoing at every step of production to guarantee your product meets exact specifications.

Contact us with your questions or request a quote to start your project.

Precision Plastic and Composite CNC Machining

Precision Plastic and Composite
CNC Machining since 1970.

Precision Plastic and Composite CNC Machining
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