The retro appeal of old Bakelite products and labor intensive manufacturing has made them quite collectible in recent years.
Bakelite AG (a German company) claims to own the trademark in the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, China, Cuba, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Malaysia, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, Switzerland, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom.
Bakelite Corp. was formed in 1922 from the consolidation of three companies: General Bakelite Co., Condensite Corp., and Redmanol Chemical Products Company, an early plastics manufacturer formed in 1913 by Chemist L.H. Baekeland. The American Catalin Corporation acquired the Bakelite formulas in 1927 and currently manufactures Bakelite cast resins.
Bakelite Limited was formed in 1926 from the amalgamation of three suppliers of phenol formaldehyde materials: the Damard Lacquer Company Limited of Birmingham; Mouldensite Limited of Darley Dale and Redmanol Chemical Products Company of London. Around 1928 a new factory opened in Tyseley, Birmingham, England. (The building was demolished in 1998.) The company was acquired by the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation in 1939.
Phenolic sheet is a hard, dense material made by applying heat and pressure to layers of paper or glass cloth impregnated with synthetic resin. These layers of laminations are usually of cellulose paper, cotton fabrics, synthetic yarn fabrics, glass fabrics or unwoven fabrics. When heat and pressure are applied to the layers, a chemical reaction (polymerization) transforms the layers into a high-pressure thermosetting industrial laminated plastic. When rubbed, original Bakelite has a telltale odor.
Bakelite Phenolic is produced in dozens of commercial grades and with various additives to meet diverse mechanical, electrical and thermal requirements. Some common types include:
(After following the patent link, click on the "Images" button to view the patent. You will need a TIFF (.tif) viewer to view the patent.)
Although it is no longer extensively used as an industrial manufacturing material, in the past Bakelite was used in myriad applications, such as saxophone mouthpieces, cameras, solid-body electric guitars, rotary-dial telephones, early machine guns, and appliance casings. It was at one point considered for the manufacture of coins, due to a shortage of traditional manufacturing material. In 1943, Bakelite and other non-metal materials were tested for usage as a penny in the United States before the mint settled on zinc coated steel.