Flexible laminates are most commonly used in applications where a thin layer of insulation is required. These applications typically require the material to be bent, formed, or simply punched into a shape that fits into a confined space. Typically applications include layer insulation in transformer coils, slot insulation in motors, turn-to-turn insulation in power generators, and phase-to-phase insulation in low voltage circuit breakers.
Because thermoset flexible materials maintain their dimensional stability at elevated temperatures, these materials have been used in electrical insulating applications since their discovery. Electrical equipment tends to generate a tremendous amount of heat due to the concentration of electrical wiring in a small space. The passage of electricity through electrical wires creates thermal energy or heat due to the resistance offered by copper or aluminum to the passage of electrons through their valence structures. Thus, the materials that insulate the copper or aluminum conductors must be able to withstand the thermal energy created without deforming or melting. For this reason, thermoset flexible laminates find common application in electrical equipment and other applications where dimensional stability at elevated temperatures is required.
By definition, composite materials are manufactured of two or more materials. In the case of most thermoset flexible laminates, the primary materials include one or more substrates or base materials such a paper, a fiber material, or a glass cloth material along with a resin or adhesive such as epoxy, melamine, or acrylic.