A History of TUFNOL Laminated Plastics

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TUFNOL is a proprietary brand of non-metallic material used to make engineering components for a wide range of uses. This type of material is known as 'synthetic resin bonded laminated plastic', and is made from layers of paper, cotton cloth or woven glass fibre cloth, dipped in resin, then compressed and bonded together in a hot press (see What is TUFNOL?). It is a strong, hard material, made in a number of different grades with varying properties and uses.

When TUFNOL was first introduced in the 1920s, synthetic materials were new to engineers and plastics in engineering were almost unknown. With its emphasis on high quality, consistency and reliability, from the beginning TUFNOL employed engineers as salesmen, to help customers develop knowledge and confidence in using it for new applications. The company also built large machine shops, highly skilled in special techniques to provide finished machined TUFNOL components, made-to-order for each customer.

TUFNOL Laminates had a profound effect on the development and acceptance of modern non-metallic materials in engineering. For many engineers and designers in Britain and other countries, TUFNOL provided their first experience of engineering plastics with such useful properties of strength, light weight, easy machinability, and very long life for engineering components in arduous working conditions. TUFNOL provided millions of components, for thousands of new applications in many industries.

Although initially made for electrical insulation, TUFNOL was quickly adopted by the burgeoning aircraft industry in the 1930s and still, today, 'aerospace' remains the largest user. Early collaboration in the 1930s and '40s with the Ministry of Aircraft Production and the British Admiralty led to the development of official British Standards for laminated plastics, laying the foundation for the international quality standards we have for technical laminates today.

TUFNOL pioneered many uses of plastics in engineering, solved many problems and helped to change the expectations of engineers in what synthetic materials could do.

This website aims to tell the story of TUFNOL, where it began and how it has evolved.

Go to The History of TUFNOL Laminates