Worktops are a critical element of laboratory furniture and the most vulnerable to damage. Therefore, the material used for worktops can have an adverse influence on the outcome of experiments and other work in progress. Also, for environments where there are large numbers of users or a high demand for hygiene, the choice of materials becomes even more important. Laboratories used frequently by different individuals or groups need to be strong and resistant to wear. They must look their best at all times, because visible signs of wear can sometimes lead to an excessively casual approach by subsequent users. Because of these reasons, durability, maintainability and reliability, together with aesthetics, are key factors to be considered in selecting laboratory worktop surface material.
Main considerations in selecting laboratory countertops include use, appearance and cost. Countertops for laboratory use include: Hardwood, Epoxy Resin, Stainless Steel, Trespa Toplab Plus (solid phenolic).
1… Hardwood – Maple or Oak
Hardwood, either oak or maple, finished with an acrylic coating is used as a substance for laboratory countertops. Hardwood laboratory countertops are effective in settings where mechanical or physical work levels are high, yet are a poor candidate for situations involving chemicals. Although the product had a fair chemical resistance, it is not recommend for use in chemical laboratories, such as those in chemistry experiments.
2… Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel provides many unique values that make it a powerful candidate in the material selection process. Stainless steel is low carbon steel, which contains chromium at 10% or more by weight. This addition of chromium gives the steel its unique stainless, corrosion resisting properties. Stainless steel also has special high chromium and nickel-alloyed grades and has the ability to retain its strength at high temperatures. However steel is the most expensive laboratory countertop and because of its conductive properties, it is not ideal for use in a science laboratory. Steel countertops have many beneficial properties that have proven to work well in medical facilities.
3… Chemical Resistant Laminate
Chemical resistant laminate offers moderate resistance to non-corrosive and non-volatile chemicals. Chemical resistant laminates are suggested for light duty laboratory applications or where price is the most important purchase criteria. Chemical resistant laminates are not suggested in environments where surfaces may come in contact with carbon-based chemicals, environments conducive to communicable diseases, or environments prohibiting volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
In an environment where hygiene and avoidance of contamination is key, Trespa® TopLabPLUS® provides an ideal choice. Thanks to its unique closed surface composition, the products show significantly low dirt pick up, are impervious to mold and rot, and are resistant to non-abrasive organic cleaning solvents – thus making the product easy to clean and disinfect.
CHEMICAL RESISTANCE Used extensively in a wide variety of laboratories worldwide, including chemical, analytical, microbiological and educational laboratories, Trespa® TopLabPLUS® is resistant to a large number of aggressive chemicals as identified by SEFA (Scientific Equipment and Furniture Association) and PSI (Professional Services Industries), if cleaned within 24 hours.
ANTIMICROBIAL PERFORMANCE Trespa ® TopLabPLUS® has inherent antibacterial properties without the addition of microbial additives. An independent test by British Industrial Microbiological Services Ltd. (IMSL) shows an almost complete elimination of certain bacteria after 24 hours.
LONG LIFE TIME Trespa® TopLabPLUS® is a versatile material featuring an incredibly durable surface. Engineered for moisture and scratch resistance, the product retains its aesthetic appeal throughout its lifetime. This is why Trespa® TopLabPLUS® is used for work surfaces, shelves and cabinet construction in laboratories around the world.
DESIGN FLEXIBILITY Today’s laboratory is fast-paced and professional. With a dense and homogeneous core, Trespa® TopLabPLUS® can be machined similar to high quality hardwood using standard carpentry tools – leaving crisp, clean edges and uniform openings.
Trespa® TopLabPLUS® can also be easily retrofitted in the field for new taps, sinks and other equipment, without compromising performance or appearance. Using carefully selected panel sizes of Trespa® TopLabPLUS®, laboratories can be designed allowing for material optimization and reduced number of joints for various applications.
Worktop Selection and Comparison Chart