Urea formaldehyde

Acronym and details:   UF

Group:   thermoset

Developed:   patents taken out 1915 but only becomes practical for commercial use as thiourea urea formaldehyde in 1925; improved to urea formaldehyde in 1929; role taken by other plastics by 1950s

Trade names:   Beetle; Beatl; Bandalasta; LingaLonga; Plaskon; Scarab

Manufacturing process:   compression moulding

Cost:   medium

Colour:   naturally white but any slightly muted or pastel colour; also speckled and marbled effects

Transparency:   opaque or translucent; never transparent

Rigidity:   rigid

Feel:   hard

Smell:   usually none but occasionally a faint smell of urine

Other:   brittle; less than a high gloss

Typical uses:   domestic wares, picnic sets; jewellery; electric fittings and casings

Degradation:   dulls, discolours, cracks; acquires an orange peel effect on the surface; badly affected by hot water; otherwise reasonably stable