Phenol formaldehyde (PF), often referred to by the trade name Bakelite, is a rigid compression moulded thermoset polymer.
Bakelite is named after the chemist Leo Baekeland who patented it in 1907. Baekeland’s wood filled material was not widely used until after 1915 but it became known as the ‘material of 1000 uses’. Phenolic resin, an unfilled material, often translucent and rich in colour was developed in 1927.
Phenol formaldehyde with various fillers, including wood and rag, has been used in many applications including insulating handles on irons and kettles as well as wood simulating radio cases. The unfilled material can take warm colours suitable for decorative pieces.
As a thermoset phenol formaldehyde cannot be reheated and reformed so is difficult to recycle.