What is laminating?
Lamination occurs when two or more layers of material are put together by either cohesion or adhesion. Plastic laminates are usually various layers of material held together by some sort polymer or plastic material. Laminates and reinforced plastics can be difficult to distinguish from reinforced plastics because the layers often provide strength and reinforcement as well to the base plastic material. The primary way to tell the two products apart is that laminates are usually made up of layers of material. Laminates are also primarily made in to flat sheet or tubes and rods versus reinforced plastics can be molded into complex shapes or geometries.
There are many types of laminates processes to consider. Processes like co-extrusion are technically a laminate. Many different materials can be laminated together as is the case in bullet resistant polycarbonate which is made up of polycarbonate, acrylic and some sort of urethane interlayer. Another process yields what are considered either low pressure laminates or high pressure laminates. For the purpose of this article we will focus on high pressure laminates, also called high pressure laminates.
A paper, fabric or cloth are usually saturated or impregnated in a plastic resin system of some kind of thermosetting resin system like melamine, phenolic, polyester or epoxy. Originally high pressure laminates found applications as counter top material. Today, these materials are being used in much more dynamic applications like printed circuit boards, gears and pulleys and the like.
A major disadvantage of high-pressure laminates is the slow production process compared to other plastics technology processes. However, the properties of the material in regards to strength and stiffness at elevated temperature can be a useful product in solving certain challenging applications.