Porcelain and bakelite coexisted harmoniously for many years, and both switch colours, white porcelain and black bakelite, were equally popular. The synthetic resin bakelite was found to be an ideal material for electro-technical applications: its stability was unmatched and its temperature resistance and insulation were tremendous.
The material remained common in light switches and power outlets into the 1960’s, but then bakelite was replaced by cheaper synthetic materials. With the spread of thermoplastic as the new switch material, bakelite virtually disappeared from the scene. However, there is no comparison between bakelite and thermoplastic: Bakelite is much heavier and more pleasant to the eye and to the touch. This is due to its production. Instead of being produced using the injection-moulding procedure, bakelite is moulded directly from its raw form using the “matrix method”.
With the successful development of the porcelain switch system, we have set out to restore this harmonious coexistence. In close cooperation with our long-standing Westphalian partner in electro-technical switches for industrial use, we have brought the lost moulds and tools back into production and have found material manufacturers who are masters at processing bakelite - a skill which can no longer be taken for granted.
The result is the bakelite switch system: just like its porcelain counterpart, it is both functionally and aesthetically superior to other synthetic mouldings. Its functional superiority is due to its internal mechanics and it is aesthetically superior in three ways: to the eye, to the touch and to the ear (due to the pleasant “clicking” sound of the turn-switch).
When Leo H. Baekeland registered the patent for the production of the first completely synthetic material in 1908, he was aware of the hardships faced by the electronic industry, which was in dire need of a substitute material for the expensive material shellac.
His bakelite, the first-ever thermosetting synthetic material, made it possible to manufacture items for daily use at relatively low cost using pressing moulds. The new material was quickly adopted for the production of many household products: starting with knobs and switches, then moving to radios, telephones and even typewriters.
Bakelite is a registered trademark of Hexion Specialty Chemicals AG.
The switches and power outlets are delivered without external faceplates. Faceplates are available in single, double and triple form. System and double faceplates are consistent with standard spacing and can be easily used with existing installations. All switches and power outlets of the bakelite switch system can be combined with these faceplates.
The only exceptions are the antennae, telephone and data jacks: an individual faceplate (with a slightly larger inner diameter) is always included in delivery. On request, we also deliver purpose-built system faceplates in place of the individual faceplate. This system faceplate is designed as an external piece that cannot be combined with other faceplates. The switch systems fit in all standard concealed outlets.
To complement our tried and tested switch systems of porcelain, bakelite and duroplast we have now developed switches and sockets for surface mounting. Optically, their design is reminiscent of historical predecessors - whereby they do, of course, comply with all current standards and safety regulations. The robust 2.5 mm thick casings of bakelite or duroplast are moulded in one piece and provide sufficient impact protection for the electrical contacts underneath. To allow cables to be laid to or through the units, the casing has lateral sections which can be broken out along predetermined lines. The casing is open at the back, so that the cabling can also be laid below the surface.
The mechanical components fulfil the same standards in respect of durability and service life as the other switch series which have already proved themselves in manufacturing and shipbuilding. Installation: The inner components are mounted on the underlying surface and then connected with the cabling, after which the casing is put in place and screwed tight. Where the underlying surface is flammable, it should first be covered using a suitable layer of material, e.g. Pertinax. As part of the surface mounting product series we supply matching base plates made of bakelite or duroplast.
Come and visit us at Light + Building
18-23 March 2018 / Germany, Frankfurt
Padiglione 11.1 | Stand D 33