What Is Phenolic Resin and Its Transformative Role in Crafting Superior Casters?
Victoria Forney

What Is Phenolic Resin and Its Transformative Role in Crafting Superior Casters?

When learning about different types of casters, you might encounter something called a phenolic caster. The term refers to casters that contain phenolic resin or polymer as part of their construction. So what is phenolic resin and why is it a big deal in caster production?

Caster Central is a prime source for high-quality caster wheels, bearings, accessories, and other items. With over a century of industry experience, we know what it takes to manufacture the best quality casters. Here, we discuss the many uses and advantages of phenolic resins in various environments and industries.

If you'd like to explore the benefits of phenolic resin with superior casters, contact us today. 

What Is Phenolic Resin?

Phenolic resin is a thermoset polymer with phenol that changes properties after curing. However, it's not like plastic polymers since you can't melt it and mold it again after it cures. Instead of cooling down and hardening as it cures, the polymer undergoes an exothermic chemical reaction during its hardening phase.

Phenol combines with formaldehyde and at least one additive to create permanently bonded molecules. On its own, phenolic resin is brittle. Including synthetic fibers, silica, wood flour, glass fibers, and other materials dramatically increases the strength and durability of this resin. 

Still, phenolic resin is a widely used compound because it has excellent hardness levels, heat resistance, dimensional stability, and resistance to chemicals. It's also non-conductive to electricity and has great thermal insulation.

Manufacturers who produce this resin separate them into two categories depending on the balance between phenol and formaldehyde. Novolac phenolic resin requires catalyzation using acid and a curing agent. It has less formaldehyde than phenol.

The resole version of phenolic resin is the opposite of the novolac variety. It has excess formaldehyde and less phenol. Resole needs alkali catalyzation but not a curing agent. 

What Makes Phenolic Resin Integral To Manufacturing Certain Products?

As you learn more about the answer to, "What is phenolic resin?" you'll see that the material has many characteristics that make it a common ingredient in many items, not just casters. 

Physical Attributes

In most cases, phenolic resin as a molding compound usually looks like a fine powder, unlike the pellet form that many thermoplastic moldings have. However, phenolic resins can also have a sheet-like or tube-like appearance. It's possible to mold the resin into many complex shapes.

You can't tell phenolic resin from other polymers according to color since it can come in many shades. It's often a dark shade of brown or black, but the resin could also look red or green. 

As a molding compound, the material can take two-stage forms. The single-stage molding resin is suitable for in-mold placement for metal parts and accessories that need extra corrosion resistance. Thanks to its properties, single-stage phenolic molding resin can bond well to other materials and accept mechanical assembly.

Unfortunately, you can't recycle, reshape, and reuse phenolic resin the same way as thermoplastics. The polymer changes permanently under heat. 

Chemical Resistance

Phenolic resin reacts well to many organic and halogenated solvents despite responding poorly to oxidizers and inorganic bases. As such, this material is widespread in the architectural and transit industries because it produces low smoke emissions. Incorporating different types of phenolic resins into products can improve their UL fire ratings, ensuring they meet the fire resistance standards set by Underwriters Laboratories. 

Common Uses and Applications for Phenolic Resin

One of the first applications of phenolic resin was electrical equipment insulation. You can still find the resin in other electrical applications today, like circuit boards.

The uses for this material are far-reaching and span many industries. Take a look at some of the most common applications of phenolic resin. 


Phenolic resin is a popular material for laboratory countertops. The material's increased durability makes countertops resistant to stress and impact fractures. Many laboratories use phenolic resin countertops for other reasons beyond durability, including:

  • Excellent chemical resistance
  • Great bacterial resistance
  • Superior fungal resistance
  • Good ability to withstand prolonged heat exposure up to 350 degrees

Automotive Industry

The automotive industry uses phenolic resin in several ways. It's a suitable binder for friction materials due to its superior heat resistance. As such, the resin is a common component in clutch discs and brake pads. 

The resin can also improve vulcanized rubber products like tires. By combining the rubber with phenolic resin, car tires can have more traction, which can help increase road safety. 

Lumber Industry

The creation of oriented strand board is possible thanks to phenolic resin. This kind of lumber resembles a particle board. Producers make oriented strand boards by adding adhesives to layers of wood stranders in different orientations and compressing everything.

Combining resole resin with heat and compression can strengthen the bond between plywood layers. As a result, the enhanced plywood can hold up well in environments with excess moisture or other harsh conditions.


Phenolic resin countertops aren't only for laboratories. You can find them inside kitchens as well. Manufacturers soak layers of natural craft paper in the resin and compress them under high heat to produce a solid, durable, and lightweight countertop without seams or joints.

Novolac resin and different fillers can produce heat-resistant products like knobs and handles for cookware. The material is also part of many knife handles because it can create a lovely shine after polishing and produce a firmer grip when wet. 

Other Uses

Phenolic polymer is so versatile that you could encounter something with it daily and not realize it. Other applications for it include:

  • Billiard balls
  • Refractory bricks
  • Ballistics
  • 3D printing
  • Metal coatings to boost mechanical strength
  • Adhesives containing neoprene rubber

Why Phenolic Resin Is Ideal for Making Casters

What is phenolic resin as it relates to casters? Caster manufacturers like Caster Central use phenolic resin to produce high-grade caster wheels and accessories. Thanks to these benefits, phenolic casters are a step above standard casters consisting of steel and rubber:

  • Chemical Resistance: Since phenolic resin is chemical-resistant, using them to make casters bolsters their chemical resistance as well. You could use these casters in environments that involve solvents, oils, and other chemicals without damaging them. 
  • Heat Resistance: Some phenolic casters are fire-resistant and can withstand temperatures over 500 degrees without melting or altering their properties in any way. These casters will continue working under extreme heat, making them ideal for heating appliances like ovens.
  • Lightweight: Phenolic casters are one of the lightest caster types. These casters consist of synthetic resin, not metal, so they usually weigh less than iron, steel, and other metal casters. 
  • Versatility: You could purchase laminated phenolic casters that have a multilayer design. This type of phenolic caster has several heat-treated layers to increase their impact resistance and load capacity by up to 40% and 25%, respectively.

Get the Best Phenolic Casters From Caster Central

To understand why phenolic resin is an excellent material for crafting caster pads, wheels, and many more everyday items, you should know the answer to the question, "What is phenolic resin?" If you're ready to experience firsthand the unmatched appeal of phenolic casters for your business's material handling applications, trust Caster Central to provide the best options for your needs. 

After more than 150 years in the business, our company is at the top of the caster and wheel production and sales industry. If you're unsure which products will suit your needs best, our courteous and professional staff will use their years of expertise to guide you.

We offer expedited shipping and guaranteed satisfaction. Call Caster Central at (800) 445-4082 today to place an order.