is a brand name for a thermosetting polymer popular in the 1930s. Developed when the American Catalin Corporation took over the patents for Bakelite
in 1927, Catalin is a cast phenolic, which can be worked with files, grinders and cutters and polishes to a fine sheen. Chemically, it is a phenol formaldehyde resin
Phenol formaldehyde resins include synthetic thermosetting resins such as obtained by the reaction of phenols with formaldehyde. Sometimes the precursors include other aldehydes or other phenol. Phenolic resins are mainly used in the production of circuit boards...
. Catalin has a different manufacturing process (two-stage process) than do other types of Bakelite
resins (without using fillers such as sawdust
Sawdust is a by-product of cutting lumber with a saw, composed of fine particles of wood. It can present a hazard in manufacturing industries, especially in terms of its flammability....
or carbon black
Soot is a general term that refers to impure carbon particles resulting from the incomplete combustion of a hydrocarbon. It is more properly restricted to the product of the gas-phase combustion process but is commonly extended to include the residual pyrolyzed fuel particles such as cenospheres,...
). Catalin is transparent, near colorless, rather than opaque, brown. Therefore, unlike other bakelite phenolics, it can be dyed bright colors or even marbled. This fact has made Catalin more popular than other types of Bakelite. In the 1930s-1950s, it quickly replaced most plastic consumer goods.
Catalin is heavy, quite greasy in feel, and as hard as brass. It is heat resistant and does not soften under boiling water. Like Bakelite, it gives off a distinctive phenolic odour when heated and can be tested using Simichrome, which turns from pink to yellow. Due to oxidation, older Catalin items darken in color with white fading to yellow. This caused some very interesting effects when radio cabinets were made from Catalin. Catalin radios were often made in stylish Art Deco
Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...
designs and are highly sought after by collectors.
Catalin is a trademark of the American Catalin Corporation.
Catalin bakelite is, perhaps, the most worldwide recognized plastic and was used from the 1930s to 1950s for many household objects, jewelry, small boxes, lamps, cutlery handles, and desk sets. Catalin jewelry, more commonly referred to now as Bakelite jewelry, was made from the 1930s until the end of World War II when it became too expensive as every piece had to be individually cast and polished. The Catalin Corporation introduced 15 new colours in 1927 and developed techniques to create marbling. The colours included yellow, orange, red, greens, blue, and purple, with clear, opaque and marbled versions. In the 1930s, jewelry made from these colours were very popular with sets of beads, bangles, earrings, and rings being worn together. Even though the jewelry made out of this material is referred to as bakelite in the antique trade, the household items, radios, cutlery, etc. are accurately referred to as Catalin.