Melamine resin is a very common additive applied to many of our everyday objects such as kitchenware, tile flooring, and laminates—but why is it used so much? What are the benefits of melamine resin? To help you understand why it’s used, we’ll discuss what melamine resin is used for.
To help you better understand what melamine resin is, first, let’s take a quick look at the properties that make it so desirable. Melamine resin, or melamine formaldehyde, is a hard, highly durable, and versatile thermosetting aminoplast known best for its resistance to heat and fire. The resin achieves this flame-retardance by releasing nitrogen gas when burned, helping to put itself out.
To prevent formaldehyde emissions in particleboards, melamine resin is often co-reacted with urea-formaldehyde which has the added benefit of preventing the degradation of glue bonds. This combination is called melamine-urea-formaldehyde. The particle boards it’s made with is more heat, moisture, scratch, and chemical resistant compared to natural wood or wood veneers.
Melamine resin can even be turned into a foam. This foam is relatively new, having only been used in the last 20 years, but has grown in popularity and use since then. The melamine foam is ideal for insulating buildings with distinctive pore structures that would be difficult to fill otherwise. It’s perfect for insulating pipes and ductworks. Other ways melamine foam has been used is as soundproofing for studios, sound stages, and auditoriums. It’s even safer than your typical insulation: because of the nitrogen gas being released when melamine is burned, the foam has very low smoke and flame properties, which reduces it as a fire hazard. Lastly, as of only recently, melamine foam has been explored as a cleaning abrasive. Similar to sandpaper, it’s capable of cleaning out tiny grooves and pores. This has made it useful for “uncleanable” messes such as crayons, grease messes, or markers.
Flame resistance is a common point of discussion for melamine resin. One of the most widespread applications is with plasticware; it keeps heat from warping and melting the plastics, as well as extending durability. It’s also used in floors and walls to make them far less flammable and self-extinguishing (to an extent) so they smother fires before the flames can get out of control. A particularly important type of wooden board—called particle boards—is preferred for this reason, but more on that soon.
Melamine resin is also greatly used in protective clothing such as firemen uniforms, thermal liners, or heat-resistance gloves and aprons. Melamine resin has been found to be the most effective at fire-proofing textiles. When not woven in with other textiles and clothing, melamine resin manufacturers can spin the resin into a flexible, fire-proof fleece that doesn’t even shrink or have any environmental impact, as making these fleeces doesn’t cause any kind of carbon emission.
The resin is a very flexible and versatile material. Manufacturers can vary the weight, density, fiber width, color, and texture to fit any customer needs or preferences. In fact, melamine resin materials are becoming more commercially available. Overwhelmingly positive customer feedback has declared the resin’s usefulness and effectiveness.
Returning to particle boards, their fabrication has been so important thanks to the superior protection they provide over natural woods. It’s not even a large investment to have your home installed with particle boards, as they’re often cheaper than traditional plywood or medium-density fiber boards. Particle boards are much lighter and easier to move around; shipping them around and handling the labor is far easier. As an added bonus, particle boards have a very smooth surface, so a bit of lacquering and staining will make them look smooth and flat for a fresh, pleasant look much harder to achieve with plywood.
Particle boards come in a few different grades, such as:
- Industrial Grade—Boards that can be used to make furniture such as cabinets and fixtures.
- Commercial Grade—Boards best used for projects like laminated panels.
- Countertop Grade—As suggested, this grade of board can be used on post-formed countertops.
- Shop Grade—Wildly available but not to be used for any structural applications.
Something else that melamine resin is used for is enhancing concrete. When sulfonated melamine formaldehyde is added to concrete, the melamine creates a super-plasticizer that bolsters the concrete for high resistance. However, this additive primarily serves to reduce the water content within the concrete while still keeping it fluid and workable when being poured and shaped. The end result is concrete with lower porosity and a higher mechanical strength. It boasts a durability against aggressive weather or environments by preventing erosion, resulting further in a longer lifespan.
The superior hardness, scratch resistance, and heat resistance makes melanin resin applicable to laminating practices and application. The resin itself doesn’t color whatever it’s being applied to, so feel free to apply it to surfaces while still having the color of your choice. While often a bit more expensive to make than laminates using P-F resins, melamine laminates have become increasingly popular for decoration purposes. The laminate is valued for its protective properties while still being available in a wide variety of colors. This has made melamine laminates perfect for tabletops as a popular decorative choice and protection for your table to avoid stains and scratches.
Notes To Consider
Objects applied with melamine resin are usable between -30 and 120 degrees Celsius, and though it’s very resistant to damages from chemical stains and heat, melamine resin shouldn’t be used to store hot oils or highly acidic and deep-fried foods. Unfortunately, melamine resin is vulnerable to alkalis and concentrated acids such as sulphuric or oxalic acid. The resin itself can also be hazardous if consumed.
Particle boards are made from a combination of wood chips, shavings, fibers, and adhesives that might cause nails and screws to not hold as well in comparison to plywood, which has a stronger structure for nails and screws to grab onto.