With great materials comes great responsibility. Not only do phenolic materials like G10-FR4 (MIL-1-24768/27) have a less than 0.0004% failure rate, but you’re also getting materials that come with longer lifespans, better corrosion resistance, incredible electrical insulating characteristics and more.
Those advantages, however, often come with a cost.
The trade-off for all this is that phenolics machining is a process that is normally more difficult than with more conventional materials, and it is slightly more dangerous, too. This is nothing to be feared, however – it is only to be understood. By getting a better idea of the difficulties and hazards that are present with phenolics machining, it will be easier to see how this effort definitely pays off in the end.
The Challenges of Phenolics Machining: Factors to Be Aware Of
One of the most important things to understand about all of this is that, generally speaking, phenolic plastics tend to introduce more machining variables that need to be managed during the production process than their conventional counterparts. Materials like G7 (Mil-1-247681/17 GSG) and G10, for example, combine layers of glass with a particular type of resin binder. The advantage of this is that you not only get unbeatable electrical insulation characteristics, but also superior dimensional stability and mechanical strength as well.
The downside of this, however, is that the aforementioned glass filler is highly abrasive by its nature. This means that if you’re not careful, the types of advanced machines and cutting tools you’re working with can wear much faster than they normally would. This is why many companies that are experts in phenolics tend to have their own tools that are specifically designed to work with these materials.
In addition to its natural complexity, phenolics machining also brings with it its fair share of hazards to watch out for, too. Depending on which specific phenolic is being worked with, one or more of the components could contain aromatic or aliphatic amine compounds that are skin, eye and even respiratory irritants. Likewise, machining these phenolics often creates a huge amount of abrasive dust in the air. Internal processes and best practices regarding safety need to be created and followed very closely in order to not just keep machines running at peak efficiency, but to allow for the cleanest and safest working environment for employees as well.
If nothing else, all of this underlines the importance of partnering with the right provider on all jobs and major projects involving phenolics in the first place. At JMJ Profile, we have decades of experience doing precisely that – partnering on projects for use in the healthcare space, with organizations like NASA and even with the United States military. Not only can we help mitigate the risks and hazards inherent in phenolics machining, but we also have the expertise necessary to embrace the level of experimentation that is always required to help make sure the job gets done properly the first time.
For more information please see this article we’ve previously written on phenolics machining in great detail.