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What is Formica?

Formica is actually a brand name that has become so synonymous with a certain type of manufactured material that many often substitute it for the product name. Formica has been at the forefront of innovation and development of composites and decorative laminates since the company’s inception in 1912. The company’s original product was conceived as a substitute for mica, which is an insulating substance used as electrical shielding material. The combination of the words faux, or fake, mica eventually conformed into the brand’s name. The Formica of today shares only some of the same manufacturing properties as the original substance but the company has dramatically expanded its ability to form and mold finished sheets of its proprietary product.

The process in which Formica is formed consists of was originally achieved by impregnating sheets of Kraft paper with phenolic resin. The pages were then pressed together into whatever molded shape was required and then cured to form a hard finished product. However, the company’s researchers soon developed a process in which they could eliminate the need for layers of impregnated paper. Instead, a thick paste of cellulose powder and phenolic resin was sandwiched between two sheets of impregnated paper to form a press pack. The entire substance could be shaped and cured in a fraction of the time at a reduced cost.

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