Plastic laminate has been part of our surroundings for decades, yet most people don't know much about the product that is found virtually everywhere in homes, restaurants, hospitals and even bowling alleys! The name itself "plastic laminate" can lead to misunderstandings.
High pressure decorative laminate (HPDL) is made by saturating sheets of decorative and core paper with resins, then pressing them under high heat, fusing the layers into a single sheet. Surprisingly, a sheet of laminate is only 30% plastic resin; the rest is paper!
Laminate sheets are bonded, using special adhesives, to "substrates" made of plywood, fiberboard or particle board which give the final product its strength and substance. The laminate surface provides resistance from wear and impact.
Here are some interesting "factoids" about laminate:
- Laminate was originally invented as a material for electrical insulation, not decoration.
- "Woodies," the wood paneled station wagons popularized in the 50s and 60s, were actually sided with woodgrain laminate.
- Today, most bowling alleys are surfaced with laminate. Wood lanes can be warped by the weight of bowling balls; plastic laminate lanes allow for a more accurate bowl.
- Laminate is the material that lines the chutes of many vending machines, allowing candy bars and sode cans to quickly slide out.
- Interiors of pleasure boats are often manufactured with laminate because of the product's durability, easy maintenance and resistance to salt.
- Many of the 20th century's greatest designers worked with laminate: Donald Deskey, Aero Saarinen, Ray and Charles Eames, Norman Bel Geddes, Raymond Loewy, Florence Knoll, Vladimir Kagan, Robert Venturi, the Memphis Group, Michael Graves, even Frank Lloyd Wright.
|Countertop laminated with Smoky Topaz 4589-7|