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2.5mm thick mystery 'Formica' type sheet. Is it still available?

was sold as office partition skirting

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Ian P13/06/2021 16:23:00
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About 20 years ago I purchased 150mm wide and 2.4m long strips of a very hard laminate type material that was used as a kick strip/skirting as one of the elements in the office partitioning industry.

The company I bought it have moved or disappeared and I'm struggling to find any reference to any sources.

The scrap bit I have is very much like Formica but apart from being much thicker seems to be homogenous solid black all the way through. The front surface has a very fine satin brushed finish and its rear face has the coarse brushed finish seen on the underside of kitchen laminates. Physically its very hard and rigid, wears out drill and cutters rapidly and gives off a phenolic like smell.

Does anyone know what it is and whether its still available?

Ian P

PS The odour when machining is like burnt Bakelite

Edited By Ian P on 13/06/2021 16:24:44

John Haine13/06/2021 16:50:03
4106 forum posts
241 photos

If it's phenolic then it may be one of the Tufnol types - have you tried them? They make a wide range.

Emgee13/06/2021 17:00:19
2147 forum posts
265 photos

I used the same material for engraved signs until I got fed up filling the colour and went to the much more expensive Traffolite sandwich 2 colour engraving material. The skirting material I had was only 100mm wide.

I think paxolin sheet is the closest substitute these days, Tufnol with reinforcement would not be suitable for engraving but may suit your use.

Emgee

Bo'sun13/06/2021 17:37:31
496 forum posts

Another vote for Paxolin.

Robert Atkinson 213/06/2021 19:12:52
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If colour isn't important then electrical paxolin sheet should do. Available from electrical factors
https://www.cef.co.uk/catalogue/categories/switchgear-distribution-paxolin-sheets

It is phenolic resin impregnated paper. It is so homogenous that you can't see that it's filled, unlike the fabric based types like Tufnol "Carp".

Robert G8RPI.

JasonB13/06/2021 19:22:15
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Laminate Skirting

SteveW13/06/2021 19:27:26
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I have a few samples of a building cladding that is very like ‘formica’ with a coloured surface and a brown back just like the old Formica. I have some that have a wood grain finish as well as solid colours. Trouble is it is approx 5/6mm thick. Very hard, stiff and flat. I’ve used scraps for the base of small engines.

Ian P13/06/2021 19:46:32
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2512 forum posts
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Posted by JasonB on 13/06/2021 19:22:15:

Laminate Skirting

I did see that on my searches yesterday and was planning to phone on Monday and ask what the material is. With it being described as 'laminate' I thought it might be of laminated construction and not homogeneous.

I need to make 20-30 panels about 240mm square so I need to find 8x4 sheets or whatever 8x4.

Its for equipment used in tropical climes and needs to be transparent to radio frequencies so metal is out. 3mm is about the maximum we can use and not many plastics are stiff enough (push button and other controls mounted on it) Acetal is too floppy and too shiny, rigid PVC is too soft, Paxolin, Tufnol etc are either wrong colours or too expensive hence looking for this skirting stuff.

Ian P

JasonB13/06/2021 19:50:52
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Formica, Decamel and all the other similar products are "High Pressure Laminates" HPL

Roderick Jenkins13/06/2021 20:00:45
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How about HPL/Trespa from here:

Plastic sheet shop

HTH,

Rod

Edited By Roderick Jenkins on 13/06/2021 20:06:15

Ian P13/06/2021 20:14:20
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Posted by Emgee on 13/06/2021 17:00:19:

I used the same material for engraved signs until I got fed up filling the colour and went to the much more expensive Traffolite sandwich 2 colour engraving material. The skirting material I had was only 100mm wide.

I think paxolin sheet is the closest substitute these days, Tufnol with reinforcement would not be suitable for engraving but may suit your use.

Emgee

Did the material you used have a name?

Seems odd that the only known use of this material is for skirting. It extremely heavy and dense and although I dont know all its properties its virtually incompressable and the 7"x2" oddment I have hardly flexes when I try to bend it using hand pressure. 1.5mm mild steel the same size/force would be permanently bent.

The intention is to engrave and fill but its only a few characters per panel so not a problem.

Ian P

Ian P13/06/2021 20:23:50
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I've not come across Trespa but it might be suitable, 3mm seems thin on the ground. One thing I noticed on the descriptions in the website Rod linked to was this statement

'Keep in mind that HPL expands or shrinks faster than other plastic panels' !!!

Ian P

Robert Atkinson 213/06/2021 21:08:16
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Posted by Ian P on 13/06/2021 19:46:32:
Posted by JasonB on 13/06/2021 19:22:15:

Laminate Skirting

I did see that on my searches yesterday and was planning to phone on Monday and ask what the material is. With it being described as 'laminate' I thought it might be of laminated construction and not homogeneous.

I need to make 20-30 panels about 240mm square so I need to find 8x4 sheets or whatever 8x4.

Its for equipment used in tropical climes and needs to be transparent to radio frequencies so metal is out. 3mm is about the maximum we can use and not many plastics are stiff enough (push button and other controls mounted on it) Acetal is too floppy and too shiny, rigid PVC is too soft, Paxolin, Tufnol etc are either wrong colours or too expensive hence looking for this skirting stuff.

Ian P

If it is for an RF window I'd be wary of decorative materials. many of them are lossy at Radio Frequencies. A particular problem is melamine. It is very lossy at RF and is used a a facing material in formica and similar. Depending on frequency the phenolic board I linked to earlier may be OK.
Fibreglass epoxy board like that used for circuit board bay be the best material. Obviously you don't want the copper clad version

Names for this are FR-4, G10 and Tufnol "Glass". G10 at least is available in black.

Robert G8RPI.

Edited By Robert Atkinson 2 on 13/06/2021 21:09:02

Emgee13/06/2021 22:42:13
2147 forum posts
265 photos
Posted by Ian P on 13/06/2021 20:14:20:
 
:Did the material you used have a name?

Seems odd that the only known use of this material is for skirting. It extremely heavy and dense and although I dont know all its properties its virtually incompressable and the 7"x2" oddment I have hardly flexes when I try to bend it using hand pressure. 1.5mm mild steel the same size/force would be permanently bent.

The intention is to engrave and fill but its only a few characters per panel so not a problem.

Ian P

Mine came from a subby who was installing Z frame office partitioning 40 years ago, I have only known the material as office skirting, if you fix in a vice and bend it will break in a similar manner to Formica and other similar board materials.

By the sound of your application I don't think you should worry too much over the material cost as long as it provides the protection required.

Just did a search on net and there are several companies offering Paxolin in various sheet sizes and thicknesses, depends on location as to which may be best for you.

Emgee

Edited By Emgee on 13/06/2021 22:58:46

Bill Pudney13/06/2021 23:20:07
559 forum posts
24 photos

We used to use melamine sheet, it was available up to at least 1.6mm thick, in sheets. It is basically thick formica. Paxolin, fibreglass sheet, tufnol, (synthetic resin bonded paper, synthetic resin bonded cloth) are entirely different products, which may or may not meet the OP requirements.

cheers

Bill

Russell Eberhardt14/06/2021 10:43:16
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Posted by Robert Atkinson 2 on 13/06/2021 21:08:16:

If it is for an RF window I'd be wary of decorative materials. many of them are lossy at Radio Frequencies. A particular problem is melamine. It is very lossy at RF and is used a a facing material in formica and similar. Depending on frequency the phenolic board I linked to earlier may be OK.
Fibreglass epoxy board like that used for circuit board bay be the best material. Obviously you don't want the copper clad version

Names for this are FR-4, G10 and Tufnol "Glass". G10 at least is available in black.

Robert G8RPI.

Edited By Robert Atkinson 2 on 13/06/2021 21:09:02

For RF transparency I would avoid any black plastics as the common pigment used is carbon black which will make it rather lossy depending on frequency. For making printed UHF antennas we used to use clear high impact polystyrene but I guess that is not what the OP wants.

Russell

Russell.

Ian P14/06/2021 15:06:47
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2512 forum posts
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I contacted the company that Jason linked to and they stock cut strips (100mm wide 3m long) of the exact material I am looking for. However they are unable or unwilling to give me the name of their supplier or even what the material is called, as far as they are concerned its just 'skirting laminate'

TBH their supplier might not be able to help as the sales person I spoke to said they had tried to get 150mm wide strips from them and been told (the warehouse) only stock 100mm.

I'm pretty certain the strips are cut from large sheets as visually the long edges appear to have been sawn whereas the ends are definitely unfinished.

Its frustrating to know this material exists and that regardless of what search terms I the only hits are to partition skirting (and there are not many of those).

Black glass Tufnol sounds interesting, presumably, even though black its RF properties would be OK, the control unit has an 868MHz transmitter and a 433MHz receiver (common low power remote control frequencies).

Ian P

Daggers14/06/2021 15:10:39
27 forum posts

A few years back my company needed some blank fibre glass panels 4mm thick 600x300, the order was placed with the firms PCB supplier. He offered blank panels from 1.5 to 5mm thick, no copper, in a couple of different substrate types. I seem to recall they were dark green took a router quite well and drilled fine.

Stuart Smith 514/06/2021 15:20:59
229 forum posts
27 photos

Ian

This company might have something suitable. They list engraving laminate which looks like Traffolyte. I used to get engraved labels made from Traffolyte and it is quite rigid.

https://www.plasticstockist.com/Default.aspx

Stuart

Edited By Stuart Smith 5 on 14/06/2021 15:21:27

Adam Mara14/06/2021 15:46:11
153 forum posts
10 photos

Gravograph Gravostrat may be something like you need, used it when I was working, think it was 1.5mm and 3mm thick, needs to be machine engraved wiuth a carbide cutter. If I remember correctly, came in 4' x 2' sheets, but no idea on the price these days. My sons run the business these days, and they are always complaining about material shortages and big price increases!

https://www.gravotech.co.uk/products/materials-consumables/engraving-materials/gravostrat

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