The Bakelite Switch….
.……..the story so far………….
The original Bakelite material was patented by Belgian born Leo Hendrik Baekeland in New York in 1907, it was the first truly synthetic thermosetting plastic which meant it could not be melted or changed by heating once formed!
Once set, this plastic was unaffected by heat, solvents or acid, and was electrically resistant and shatter-proof. Neither would it crack or discolour when exposed to sunlight.
Bakelite was promoted as “the material of a thousand uses”, the first form was moulded and was quickly adopted by a variety of manufacturers in a range of products including, telephones, light switches, electrical insulators, car parts and many other industrial and electrical items, which until then had been using the more expensive shellac.
The standard light switch to this point had been fairly unreliable and the contacts were prone to malfunction due to the nature of the switch mechanism.
In 1919 the ‘quick to make and break switch’ was patented in England which revolutionised the reliability of the standard light switch and once coupled to Baekelands material the ‘Bakelite’ switch as we know it was born.
With every new decade the fashion and style for switches and sockets changed and by the 196o’s manufacturing had ceased in the UK of the traditional Bakelite switch.
As a manufacturer of designer electrical accessories over the past two decades, Switch to Wood have been involved in many interesting and varied restoration projects and were keen to reintroduce a Bakelite switch that reproduces the original look and feel of those first iconic switches and complies to the latest British safety standards.
So after careful consideration of the design and the history of those original Bakelite switches, Switch to Wood are launching the ‘Bakelite Collection’, moulded in the original material and conforming to BS EN 60669-1. Offered as a standard 1 or 2 way switch, as well as a push to make link switch, which with the use of a dimming pack gives you the ability to dim your LED, halogen or incandescent lights or daisy chain a number of switches together., thereby overcoming the need for a dedicated intermediate switch.
Hardwood bases are supplied in 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 gang versions with the 2 and 3 gang being available with a vertical or horizontal mounting option. The hand finished bases of Unfinished Oak, Light Oak, Medium Oak, Dark Oak , Unfinished and Finished Ash providing endless design possibilities.