A laboratory benchtop is the primary contact point for chemical attack, heat damage and scratches and abrasion, therefore it is vital that a suitable surface is chosen to enable laboratories to operate effectively whilst maintaining a quality appearance over an extended period.
This article details the key characteristics and test results for the Westlab Laboratory Compact Laminate, performed in a NATA accredited laboratory to the appropriate quality standards.
Chemical Resistant surface
Westlab Laboratory Compact Laminate has an Electron Beam Cured (EBC) surface for added durability and chemical resistance. Electronic Beam curing (EBC) is a surface curing process in the manufacture of high-pressure laminate (HPL) boards.
The process applies colour to a single sheet of Kraft paper which is adhered to a HPL board in such a way that it will keep its colour durably while remaining scratch-resistant. The EBC machine used in the curing process gives the finished HPL boards a surface that is both colour-fade resistant and has a high resistance to damage. The process works by first mixing colour pastes to the desired colour and then applying it to a single sheet of Kraft paper. This substrate is then put in the EBC machine together with a protective foil.
In the machine this sheet is then shot with electrons at such high velocity that the colour impregnated paper hardens almost instantly. After being stored in a temperature-controlled room for a short duration the sheets are ready to be adhered to unfinished HPL boards in a process called dry forming.
The Chemical resistance test is conducted by applying 2 or 3 drops of each reagent on the specimen surface at room temperature. After that, the reagent on the surface is covered with a watch glass.
After a period of 24 hours contact time under room temperature, the watch glass is removed and the reagent is rinsed off with water. Then the specimen surface is then inspected and evaluated from various angles at a distance of 400mm.
(RATING AFTER 24 HOUR EXPOSURE-TEST METHOD BASED ON EN438-2)
- 5. No effect
- 4. Excellent
- 3. Good
- 2. Fair
- 1. Failure
Of the over 90 chemicals tested, only 5 achieved a rating of 3 or below.
Based on feedback from laboratory professionals throughout Australia, the most important feature of a benchtop is its chemical resistance across a broad spectrum of analytical, life science and biological reagents.
The Westlab Laboratory Compact Laminate is outstanding in its overall chemical resistance making it a clear choice for most laboratory applications.
Test Method EN ISO 178:2019
This is commonly referred to as the ‘breaking’ strength or ‘stiffness’ of the board and is a key indicator of the mechanical stresses that the benchtops can withstand.
Boards are tested for tensile strength both longitudinally and cross-longitudinally and the results have to exceed a predetermined force. The machine used applies a steady increase in pressure on a representative sample and the results are recorded by graphical interface. Westlab Laboratory Compact Laminate exceeds the requirements significantly making it suitable for use in high demand environments and multiple bench units.
Wet and Dry Heat Test
Test Method EN438-2:2016
A representative sample is tested by placing a preheated wet and dry sample directly onto the benchtop surface and the surface visually inspected for any surface damage. The Westlab Laboratory Compact Laminate showed no signs of damage (heated to 160C/20 minutes) and achieved a maximum rating of 5.
Test Method EN438-2:2016
This is a test for lightfastness and is especially applicable in areas that are close to windows and exterior openings. The test is conducted over an extended period where representative samples are exposed to a Xenon arc light. Westlab Laboratory Compact Laminate showed no signs of discolouration, achieving a grade 5 rating.
Scratch and Abrasion Testing
Test Method EN438-2:2016 Clause 10
Pressure is applied to the laminate and the surface is closely monitored for signs of scratching and surface wear. This is a critical test for high demand laboratories that could have heavy equipment and continual movement of objects across the surface. The Westlab Laboratory Compact Laminate performed consistently better than competitor products both in terms of scratch resistance and anti-abrasive properties, thus providing a quality, long lasting finish for any laboratory,
In summary, the Westlab Laboratory Compact Laminate provides users with a highly durable surface that has been stringently tested to the highest standards both in terms of chemical and physical resistance. This makes it the obvious choice for laboratories that require a quality appearance together with a hard-wearing and chemical resistant finish.