Original Dixon & Meldin® History
A Tale of Two Materials
In the late 1960s, a material called ‘melamine’ was introduced to the market for high temperature applications. A thermoset plastic material, it was previously used in the late 1940s in many factories and dinnerware production. Due to its nostalgic value, the everyday items are considered very collectible today. Your grandmother may still have a piece in her home!
Melanine was actually discovered in 1834 by Justus von Liebig, a German scientist, who first isolated the material as a colorless, crystalline compound. However, there was no practical use for the substance at that time. In the late 1930s, the cost of melamine in its raw form dropped to their lowest, and manufacturers began to consider practical applications for it. Called a “wonder plastic,” melamine was virtually unbreakable and dishwasher-safe, withstanding under conditions where brittle Bakelite and water-soluble resins had failed.
In the early to mid-1970s, Dixon Industries in Bristol, Rhode Island, concentrated their efforts to develop a material that would compete with melamine and be a filler for their patented and widely used Rulon® material (created by Robert Rulon-Miller who was President at Dixon). This led to Ted Rulon-Miller creating “Melamine from Dixon,” which eventually became an early form of Meldin® thermoset polyimide material. The “Mel” from the beginning letters of melamine and “din” from part of the letters in Dixon were used to create this Meldin® name. First came the Meldin® 2000 series followed by the Meldin® 9000 & Meldin® 8100 grades, which were porous polyimide structures.
In 1970, Draper Laboratories collaborated with Dixon on an U.S. Air Force sponsored research project that required a new, porous, non-metallic, single-base ingredient bearing retainer material. Meldin® 9000 material was the resulting porous polyimide. By 1980, it was qualified for additional U.S. military programs due to the material’s successful completion of 3,000 hours of life testing at the customer’s testing facilities - a significant technology advantage compared to a life of only 300 hours or less for other traditional materials!
Passionate about discovering other uses for the material as well as pushing the boundaries of process techniques, Dixon initiated an exploratory project in 1987 that would lead to a commercial porous bearing solution that was more cost-effective but still provide performance superior to the presently employed composites. The Meldin® 8100 material was born out of this relentless dedication. Not only were thermoset polyimides at the forefront of their research and development but also thermoplastic materials. The Meldin® family of thermoplastic products was launched in 1980, starting with the Meldin® 1000 and 5000 series. The Meldin® 4000 series was added in 2014 after the L+S acquisition.
The most popular polyimide solution remains the Meldin® 7000 series, which was developed in the late 1990s and commercialized in 2001. To this day, the Meldin® solution continues to provide the most complete range of high-performance thermoset polyimide materials and a diverse array of engineered thermoplastic products based on polyphenylene sulfide (PPS), polyetheretherketone (PEEK), and polyamide-imide (PAI). Each series is designed with unique characteristics and has been proven for specialized applications in aerospace, automotive, electronics, and other industries where high thermal resistance and good mechanical properties at high temperatures are required.