Melamine is a white, crystalline powder made from urea. More than 95% of melamine production worldwide is used as a raw material to make amino-formaldehyde resins. This liquid resin is further processed and used for impregnating or gluing purposes or cross linkers for coating resin. Melamine is used in a variety of applications such as:
- Laminates – Laminates are produced by compressing either paper or cloth which has been saturated with the resin onto a substrate or core.
- Wood Adhesive Resins – melamine-based wood adhesives are used in a variety of products including plywood, particleboard, medium density fibreboard (MDF), etc.
- Surface Coatings – Melamine Formaldehyde (MF) resins are used mainly in:
- Automotive coatings: acrylic clear and base coats along with polyester primers.
- Metal Containers: it is used in exterior varnishes and based coats for food and drink containers.
- Coil coatings
- Metal office furniture
- Electrical coatings
- Moulding Compounds – Moulded melamine items have strong physical properties. Its main application is in dinner ware, particularly in dinnerware that is used in restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals and schools.
- Other Uses – Melamine resins are also used in textile treatments, as a cross linking agent in paper coating and as a leather tanning agent.
The remaining 5% is mostly used as melamine crystal or melamine salts for various flame retardant applications. Flame-retardants such as melamine cyanurate and phosphates are used due to its ability to decompose and release nitrogen gas, which inhibits combustion. It also has properties which allows for heat to be absorbed and thus further slows down combustion. Flexible polyurethane foam is the largest application for melamine crystal as a flame retardant.
Benefits of using melamine
- Resistant to scratches, weather, water and chemicals.
- UV stable, heat resistant and have good chemical resistance.
- Specifically, they have excellent electrical and thermal resistance and are able to withstand extremely high temperatures.