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Melamine in laminates

Melamine is used together with formaldehyde to produce Melamine-Formaldehyde (MF) resins, which are widely used in laminated products. MF resins laminates exhibit a particularly strong resistance to heat, stain and wear and their usage in housing (remodeling and furniture) and construction (residential and non residential) represent perhaps 95% of the MF laminates sector; the balance, (industrial laminates), are specialties used in electrical applications.

The color, the quality and the consistency of the melamine are of the essence for the performance of the complex machinery used for the production of laminates. MF laminates can be High pressure or Low-pressure type, depending on the conditions of production (High-Pressure 70-100 bar and 140-160°C ; Low-Pressure 20-30 bar and 160-190°C).
High-pressure laminates are high-density, homogeneous, durable surfacing materials which are extremely resistant to heat, chemical and abrasion. In order to make High pressure laminates, a sheet of decorative paper impregnated with MF resin is stacked under high pressure temperature on top of some sheets of paper impregnated with phenolic resin. The result is an hard laminate sheet, which is extremely hygienic, resistant to wear, stain and temperature and corrosion and which is suitable to be glued on wood, MDF, particleboard to make kitchen an bathroom countertops, strong furniture tops and exterior wall cladding.
Low pressure laminates are made by pressing a single layer of MF resin impregnated paper put on top of a wooden panel with the application of pressure and temperature. The result, which is more economical than High pressure laminate, but still very resistant to abrasion, moisture and chemicals is used for vertical furniture surfacing, partition walls and less expensive laminate floors.
The appearance and the finish of both types of laminate can be widely controlled by the color/printing process of the paper and the application method of the resins. Provided that crystal clear melamine is used, the results are often not distinguishable from real wood veneer, but for the strong resistance of the surface.