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Understanding the History of Thermoset Composites


Published on | Thermoset plastic laminates provide manufacturers with a sturdy, heat and electricity resistant material to use in insulation and to use in a variety of structures. This hardy material has been in use for more than a century and is currently undergoing something of a renaissance as modern developers are devising new uses for thermoset plastic laminates.

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Understanding the History of Thermoset Composites

  1. 1. Understanding The History of Thermoset Composites
  2. 2. What Are Thermoset Plastics? Thermoset plastics are plastics that are harder and more heatresistant than other plastics. Thermosets gain these properties in their manufacturing process, which applies heat, pressure and other catalysts to the plastic to cause chemical cross linkage, which results in material with a heavier molecular weight. Adding reinforcing materials to the resin matrix, such as fiberglass, paper or cotton cloth creates thermoset laminates.
  3. 3. How Did Thermosets Originate? Thermoset plastics were created by Dr. Leo Baekeland, a Belgian-born chemist. Baekeland discovered thermosets by experimenting with phenolic resins. Baekeland discovered that by adding formaldehyde and heat to the resin, cross linkage occurred creating a harder, stronger plastic. Further experimentation resulted in the development of thermoset laminates which are certified to NEMA and MIL-I-24768 standards. Baekeland’s new plastic had several properties industries found useful, including: -Resistance to heat. -Resistance to electricity. -Strong, but light weight.
  4. 4. Thermosets vs. Thermoplastics Thermoset plastics are often confused with thermoplastics. There are several very key differences, however, including: Thermosets • Thermoset plastics do not melt or soften with heat. • Thermoset plastics are machinable with traditional tools as well as laser and water-jet tooling. Thus, an infinite number of shapes & parts can be fabricated. • Thermoset plastics are inexpensive and lightweight, resulting in ease of replacing metals & other heavy materials. Thermoplastics • Thermoplastics do soften with heat and can loose their shape and rigidity. • Some thermoplastics can be remolded and recycled. Mold costs to form shapes are expensive. • High temperature thermoplastics typically cost more than thermosets.
  5. 5. Why Industries Like Thermosets Thermoset plastics have a number of properties that make them useful to industries including: •Resistance to heat. •Structurally strong & rigid •Resistance to wear – this makes them particularly useful as washers and seals in mechanical parts. •Electrically non-conductive
  6. 6. Why Industries Like Thermosets (contd.) • Easy to cut or machine into parts and pieces as necessary. • Inexpensive to manufacture. • High strength to weight ratio. • Resistant to chemical corrosion.
  7. 7. Thermoset Renaissance Thermoset plastics are currently enjoying a renewal of interest as a new generation of designers find new applications for this amazing material. Some industries that make use of thermosets include: •Machinery •Automobile manufacturing •Aviation •Chemical •Laser & magnetic applications •Electronics •Energy
  8. 8. How Accurate Plastics Can Help You Accurate Plastics can help manufacturers and other parties interested in thermoset plastic by: •Consulting with you to determine whether thermoset plastic will meet your need. •Determining what type of thermoset plastic will best suit your need. •Manufacturing quality thermosets in sheet, rod or other form to meet your requirements.
  9. 9. About Accurate Plastics Established in 1980, Accurate Plastics sells thermoset laminate plastics around the world to a variety of industries. We have earned world-class recognition for the quality of our products and are an ISO-9000 certified company. To find out more about how our products can suit your needs, visit