High pressure laminate materials – what is it made of?
High-pressure laminate has long been a favorite among long-time veterans in the construction and interior design industries, and for good reason. HPL sheets combine the practicality of a versatile and sturdy construction material with the stylish appearance of a beloved interior design element. Wherever you go, you are sure to find laminates for interior walls, or HPL tables in use. But exactly what are HPL sheets made of? Read on to find out more about this wonder material and learn about everything from composition to the production process of high-pressure laminates!
But First, What is HPL?
HPL, also known as high-pressure laminate, is a popular construction and interior design material that is best described as a durable, decorative surface that is built to resist impact, moisture infiltration, heat, and many more external factors. Suitable for both vertical and horizontal applications, high pressure laminate is frequently used in kitchens as cabinetry, counter tops, and dining surfaces. It is also utilized in both corporate and home offices, as a reliable work surface, dining area, and shelving unit material. HPL also comes in several finishes, such as solid and wood grain laminate.
In a short summary, HPL sheets are made of six-to-eight-layer material composed of paper, resin, and specially treated overlay and are sturdy enough for construction and interior grade use. With our world continuously and rightfully growing more and more conscious about responsible resource consumption, it pays to know what the goods we purchase or consume are made of, as well as how they are made.
What is HPL Made Of?
To take a more granular look at what HPL is made of it is important to consider the six to eight layers that comprise it.
- High pressure laminate users will be happy to know that the heavily fortified core of their HPL sheets is made up of Kraft paper—a strong yet naturally biodegradable material created from sulfate wood pulp. At the end of its lifespan or usage, Kraft paper naturally degrades into cellulose when composted. This means that you can rest easy knowing that your choice to use HPL is an eco-friendly one.
- Used as reinforcement, mesh is interlaced between HPL sheet materials to form layers that create structure while adding tensile strength. Both are necessary for HPL to hold its own in more high-impact applications such as shelving, tables, and cabinetry.
- A necessary saturating agent to reinforce the kraft paper layers, resin can come in both solid and liquid form. In the high-pressure laminate production process, resin is used in its highly viscous liquid state to imbue the kraft paper with additional strength for a stronger core. Though resin is considered a polymer material, it can be derived from both synthetic and plant-based origins. Resin naturally occurs in plants as a means of protection, coating itself in the sticky substance. Phenolic resin is a thermoset polymer, meaning it can be cured and hardened with the right level of heat.
- The top layer of HPL, décor paper is the final piece that creates the smooth, impressive finish of a laminate sheet. Derived from hardwood cellulose, this organic substance has a high absorption rate—allowing the resin to seep in and bind the décor and kraft papers together to form one uniform HPL sheet.
How are HPL Sheets Made?
The high-pressure laminate production process is divided into three primary parts.
- In this layering process, multiple sheets of kraft paper and mesh are laid on top of each other to form a strong core for the HPL sheet. Comprising roughly five to seven layers, these form the strong foundation for the laminate. This is topped off with the décor paper of choice, carrying the chosen finish of the consumer or brand producing it.
- The layered HPL materials are then heavily saturated with a mixture of phenolic resin. With each of the materials consisting of mesh or porous material, the resin deeply penetrates the papers comprising the sheet. This saturates the materials and allows them to meld together in preparation for the final step.
- Phenolic resin is a thermoset polymer. This means that at a specific heat level (usually exceeding 1,000 PSI), the phenolic resin will cure and harden. During the thermosetting process, a combination of strong pressure and the 1,000 PSI heat cures the HPL sheet, creating a strong, chemically bonded construction and interior material that is impact and infiltration resistant.
We hope that this article shed some light on the materials and production of high-pressure laminates. As a material derived mostly from botanical origins, HPL sheets are made of components that will naturally return to the earth when the time comes for their replacement or composting. Make ethical and eco-friendly construction and interior design decisions by contacting a trust-worthy HPL supplier in the Philippines and include high-pressure laminates as part of your space!