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What Is Phenolic Resin and What Do We Use It For?

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Resin is a viscous substance or solid byproduct of polymer chemistry that we can mold into a variety of things. We use these composite blends in many fields and industries. Regarding polymer chemistry, phenolic resin stands out as a unique substance, but you may ask why? What is phenolic resin, and what do we use it for that makes it so special?

What Is Phenolic Resin?

Phenolic resins are distinct in the chemical field, and their history goes back over 100 years. Belgian chemist, Dr. Leo Baekeland, created the first phenolic resin in 1907. In fact, we called the earliest forms of his synthetic resin Bakelite. Bakelite was essentially the first commercially sold plastic. Manufacturers used it in many first iterations of the telephone. The compound used to create phenolic resins is a blend of phenol with formaldehyde, and two main categories exist: novellas and resoles.

Distinct Properties of Phenolic Resin

So many industries and fields use phenolic resins because they have distinct properties that set them apart from other plastic options. Phenolic resins are thermosets, meaning you cannot melt and remold them after curing and modeling. This factor comes with a distinct advantage in that phenolic resins are highly heat resistant, but a negative is that they are notoriously more difficult to recycle. Understanding the physical and chemical properties of phenol help explain why this compound is so durable and heat-resistant when used to create resins.

Common Uses of Phenolic Resin

Now that we know what phenolic resin is, what do we use it for? The truth is phenolic resin serves many purposes. Electronics manufacturers typically use it to make circuit boards for sensitive electronics that may need to withstand higher heat. Home and garden manufacturers use phenolic resin to create countertops and other sturdy, stable surfaces. One fun and surprising use for this compound is that many game and amusement companies use them to make billiard balls.

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