Design Portfolio: Highlights of high presssure laminates
March 17, 2023 | 9:18 am CDT

Photo By Wilsonart

HPL is produced by saturating multiple layers of kraft paper with phenolic resin. A layer of printed décor paper is placed on top of the kraft paper before pressing. The resulting sandwich is fused together under heat and pressure (more than 1,000 PSI). As phenolic and melamine resins are thermoset plastics, the curing process transforms the resin into plastic by a cross linking process that converts the paper sheets into a single, rigid laminated sheet. Thermosetting creates strong, irreversible bonds that contribute to HPL’s durability.

Inspirations: High pressure laminate is considered one of the most durable decorative surface materials. It performs well in both horizontal and vertical applications, including furniture, cabinetry, flooring and wall treatments. It’s also well-suited for high-traffic areas such as retail, hospitality, healthcare and corporate environments.

HPL utilizes a variety of adhesives to adhere to particleboard or MDF, which are ideal substrates to provide a stable, durable, consistent and economic foundation. It is a durable decorative surface material that is available with special performance properties, including chemical, fire and wear resistance. Special grades of HPL can be postformed around curved edges by applying heat and restraint.

HPL performs well in horizontal and vertical applications for high-traffic settings such as hospitality, office furniture, health care, retail casework, commercial interiors and educational facilities.


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There are many types or grades of high pressure laminates engineered for specific performance requirements:

General Purpose: Most widely used HPL. Suitable for horizontal and vertical surface applications. Typical thicknesses range from 0.028” to 0.048” (0.71 to 1.22 mm).

Postforming: Can be formed around curved edges by applying heat and restraint. Maximum thickness is approximately 0.038” (0.97 mm) and can normally be formed to radii as small as 3/8” (9.5 mm).

Backer: HPL is produced without a decorative face. Available as standard (most common; slightly thinner than decorative HPL) or regrind (reclaimed HPL with decorative sheet sanded off).

Special Products: Special purpose high pressure laminates include cabinet liners, high-wear, fire-rated, electrostatic dissipative and chemical-resistant laminates.

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In addition to aesthetic attributes, the lamination of particleboard or MDF with HPL can improve the physical performance of the substrate. For example, a shelf of 3/4” industrial (M-2) particleboard that is 24” long will carry 45 lbs. per square foot (psf) of uniform loading with 0.133” deflection. The same shelf can carry 85 lbs psf before reaching the same deflection if overlaid with HPL.

Continuous Pressed Laminate
Relatively new in HPL technology is the Double Belt Press (DBP) to produce Continuous Pressed Laminate (CPL). CPL is decorative paper impregnated with resins and fused under heat and high pressure with resin-impregnated backer(s).

Properties are similar to standard HPL and iit has a typical thickness range of 0.4 mm to 1 mm. CPL is available in desired sheet lengths or continuous rolls.

Flexible CPL is decorative paper impregnated with flexible thermosetting resins and fused under heat and high pressure with resin-impregnated backer(s). This engineered CPL offers a unique range of formable decorative laminates suitable for profile wrapping and edgebanding applications. The common thickness range is 0.2 mm through 0.4 mm. Surface properties are like vertical grade HPL and are used significantly to complement HPL and TFL laminates.

View a spec chart of Composite Panel Association members that produce high pressure laminates.


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