Formica® laminate was invented in 1912 by Westinghouse electrical engineers Daniel J. O’Conor and Herbert A. Faber. They discovered that high-pressure plastic resins could be used to make electrical parts, replacing the mineral mica, thus the name Formica. The Formica Products Company was established in 1913.
Formica originally consisted of layers of fabric bound together with resin; later, it was made with thick pieces of paper laminated with melamine. This tougher substance could resist heat and abrasion, while the paper opened up a wealth of possibilities for printing colors and patterns, which proved key to its success
By 1930, the Company begins to make the shift from industrial applications to decorative laminate products. Colorful, durable and cigarette-proof, Formica® Brand Laminate become a popular choice for the interiors of cafes and nightclubs, as well as railway cars and luxury ocean liners like the RMS Queen Mary. When U.S. entered World War II, The Formica Insulation Company focused on military production until the war’s end.
In the optimistic postwar world of the 1940s and 50s Formica came into its own as a cheap and cheerful surface. It exuded the popular streamline styling of the day, with an endless catalog of exotic patterns, bright colors. faux wood grains, and the iconic Boomerang pattern.
Throughout the company’s history, Formica has developed innovative new products in colors, patterns and finishes that target both the residential and commercial markets. The popularity of Formica endures, whether inspired by a retro or modern design aesthetic, and the new advances in green building has sparked a renewed interest in the uses of Formica laminate.