6 Types of Laboratory Work Surfaces and the Differences Between Them

Every laboratory has specific requirements and choosing a work surface that covers all of those needs can be overwhelming, especially as it’s a long-term investment. Grasping the difference in materials when it comes to endurance, appeal, and functionality can help you narrow it down, so here is a general overview of six types of work surfaces to help you understand your choice.

High-Pressure Laminate

Don’t let the appealing look of this surface trick you into thinking the material’s only looking good but failing in functionality. It is incredibly functional and resistant, made of surface paper, saturated in melamine and phenolic resin. It is economical and perfect for general needs and purposes of technology labs, for example. Even though it has a high heat exposure, it is not recommended for labs with significant moisture levels, as it has low bacterial, fungal and chemical resistance.

Epoxy Resin

Epoxy resin has been the go-to standard for laboratories for years because of its resistance to heat, chemical exposure, and moisture, making it perfect even for environments where there is frequent contact with water. Cured as a solid from a mixture of resin, silica, hardener, and filler, epoxy resin is an exceptionally durable plastic reinforced with fiber. There is no need for additional coatings, making it resistant to cracks and discoloration.

Phenolic Resin

Although sharing significant characteristics with epoxy resin, the phenolic resin is, however, the cheaper option. It is perfect for laboratories that are exposed to heat because of its high resistance and durability, but more importantly for experiments that need to be free of contamination, as this work surface is mostly bacteria free. It is made of kraft papers soaked in phenolic resin and then treated under high heat, forming a solid surface.  

Stainless Steel

Perhaps one of the most visually appealing materials on this list, stainless steel, guarantees that modern, slick look while being environmentally friendly. It is low carbon steel, which is resistant to rust, heat, moisture and chemical stains. Being a solid, compact surface, it is perfect for sterile environments, as no liquids or other substances can get through, allowing bacterial growth.

Butcher Block

Being incredibly sturdy as it is, this work surface can endure a lot of impacts. Made of wood that is chemically treated, it is perfect for laboratories that conduct physical experiments as it can take a lot of force. Affordable and available, and easy to repair if damage does occur, this material is not for laboratories that are exposed to chemicals, heat or moisture.

High-Density Polyethylene

Light and easily accessible, high-density polyethylene is an excellent inexpensive choice for any laboratory working with chemicals. Most often used in food laboratories, it is non-absorbent which means it stays clean and bacteria-free and is resistant to most solvents.  However, it doesn’t do well with high heat as it is flammable and somewhat soft material.

When making your choice, it is important to remember each of these materials has pros and cons. Laboratory work surfaces are going to be a part of your everyday work, and since each laboratory is specific, it is paramount to choose a material that works best with your needs. Consult with a reputable lab supply company for advice and the best input.

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