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What Is Post-Formed Plastic Laminate?

What Is Post-Formed Plastic Laminate?

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Post-formed laminate is created using a different process to conventional laminate. The aim of the post-forming process is to allow the laminate to bend, offering a greater level of flexibility. By contrast, traditional laminate tends to be stiffer and less easy to work with, not to mention thicker.

Post-formed laminate was first manufactured in the 1950s, and was particularly popular in the 1970s. It still continues to be popular to this day.

What is it Used For?

Post-formed laminate is used for a variety of different purposes. It is most commonly used in cabinetry and serves as an effective method of wrapping edges on laminate countertops.

However, it is also utilized in other industries; and is sometimes used to wrap end tables, columns and even the bases of slot machines.

How is Post-Formed Laminate Made?

Initially, laminate is made through fusing layers of both core and decorative paper into one single sheet. This sheet is then soaked with resins and pressed together using high levels of heat.

After the laminate has been formed, it is heated to soften the resins within the material. This gives the laminate greater flexibility and less rigidity. It is made of a combination of decorative paper, core (kraft) paper and melamine resins. To make post-formed laminate in accordance to technical specification, the kraft papers must be soaked with phenolic, heated to nearly 300 degrees Fahrenheit and pressurized to above 750 psi. In previous years, post-formed laminate was made using a solvent-based, volatile cement. However, for safety reasons, PVA adhesive is now used instead.

It’s common to hear post-formed laminate being referred to as ‘Formica’. However, Formica is actually the name of the company most commonly associated with the manufacture of this type of laminate, not the product itself.

The Manufacturing Process

The manufacturing process is generally automated.

  1. Firstly, a machine cuts the material to size, before bonding build-down sticks to the underside of the substrate. It also shapes the edge detail.
  2. The system then adds adhesive to the substrate and the laminate.
  3. The substrate and laminate are aligned, ready to be bonded.
  4. A Pinch Roller is applied to bond the two together.
  5. The post-forming machine heats and moulds the laminate around the substrate, then cuts away the backsplash from the main section.
  6. An AutoCove machine heats and molds the backsplash into a 90 degree position. It fixes this into place with a cove stick.
  7. Finally, a trim saw cuts the laminate into lengths.

Once the post-formed laminate is made, it is ready to be distributed.

What Happens Next?

Once the post-formed laminate countertops have been distributed, they simply need to be cut to the desired length, mitered and fitted. Fitting tends to involve simply dropping the countertop into place, with the backsplash already in place. This is particularly advantageous when compared to conventional laminate, where the backsplash has to be added separately. The post-formed laminate countertop may also require end capping, if there is an end section on display. This is only for aesthetic purposes.

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