The Micarta Division at Trafford, PA is recognized as the largest plant of its kind in the world. The original plant, erected in 1929, had a total working area of ninety thousand square feet; today the floor space approximates two hundred and sixty thousand square feet. With present facilities, including presses up to 3750 tons capacity, more than one million pounds of material can be produced per month. Enough paper and cloth are need in one year to cover twenty-five thousand miles, o r a complete turn around the earth a t the equator.
Micarta is a Westinghouse trade-name that covers all of the molded products manufactured by the Micarta Division. It is a plastic material using paper, cotton cloth, wood or fiberglass as filler materials. The fillers are impregnated with a fluid synthetic resin that is composed basically of phenol. When properly compounded with other chemicals this produces a fluid resin that can be changed to a solid by the application of heat. This change from a liquid to a solid is known as polymerization.
The filler materials, after being impregnated, are partially dried, and later cut into sheets, rolled on metal mandrels or chopped into small sizes and molded in steam heated hydraulic presses. Carefully controlled temperatures as high as 350°F and pressures exceeding one ton per square inch are used.
Micarta products are, pound for pound, as strong as structural steel; yet the? weigh only half as much as aluminum. The electrical properties are unsurpassed, and the effects of moisture, acid, and alkalies do not impair its usefulness. Ordinary metal working tools are used to machine Micarta into many useful industrial and decorative applications.