Alternatives to Phenolic Resins deliver real benefits

Coes doing things just a little bit different with phenolic resins...
Coes phenolic resins are approved for use on nuclear submarines

Coes phenolic resin alternatives are approved for use on nuclear submarines

Technical development has always been at the heart of Coes’ work. We are regularly contacted by clients who are trying to do something just a little different. They want to know whether GRP or other fibre reinforced plastics can help them. Phenolic resins are opening up some interesting opportunities.

With over 60 years’ technical and practical experience in the field we are always willing to take a look at their problem and see if we can help them develop a solution.

With the huge range of fibre, resins and additives that are available today, results are now possible that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago.

Starting at the beginning

Phenolic resins were some of the first thermosetting resins used in reinforced moulded plastics and are a constituent part of Bakelite – arguably the first synthetic plastic.

Although some of the earliest, phenolic resins (phenolics) continued to find favour because they are naturally non-conductive and fire-resistant, ideal for use in high-risk areas. However, phenolics also had disadvantages, particularly around their use during manufacture.

  1. Temperature-controlled storage. If un-cured phenolics are subject to long-term storage, temperature must be maintained at 7C or higher
  2. Phenolic resin requires heat for cure. This makes them more expensive to process than resin systems that can be cured at room temperature — a deterrent to some processors.
  3. Outgassing. Large amounts of water are produced in the phenolic reaction. As the process temperature approaches 93°C, the water vaporizes, causing inconsistences in the surface finish.
  4. Moldmaking materials are limited. The acid catalysts used in modern phenolic formulations tend to attack molds of aluminum, plain steel and some other metals.

Alongside these technical considerations, another big issue is Health & Safety.

Phenolics give off formaldehyde as they cure and while introducing ventilation systems addressed the immediate problems of the risks to workers health, simply expelling formaldehyde into the surrounding area was soon outlawed. As the regulations became tighter, the costs of using phenolics started to rise.

Finding a solution

Coes have an ongoing relationship with resin manufacturers and other partners and they have worked together over many years  to develop alternatives to phenolics that are easier to work with yet retain the key safety properties that make phenolics so popular across many sectors.

We have developed alternatives that have been stringently tested in some of the most challenging environments. Passing these tests with flying colours, our phenolic alternatives are approved for use by numerous organisations across the UK, operating some of the most stringent safety standards in the world, including:

  • The Ministry of Defence
  • London Underground
  • Network Rail

Our phenolic alternatives are also approved by Lloyds Register allowing them to be used in marine and other offshore applications. Furthermore, they can be more cost effective than phenolics – a real win-win.

The above article demonstrates Coes of Derby’s practical approach to developing solutions and helping customers make the most of the advantages on Fibre Reinforced Plastic components in their own business. If you would like to discuss the possibilities, please get in touch