In the early 60’s quarried 1.25” thick stone worksurfaces, usually imperial stone or sandstone, were the standard for laboratory applications. Stone tops were cut and sold to fabricators by many companies throughout the United States. With the advent of epoxy resin, these stone tops were often coated with epoxy resin to provide additional chemical resistance.
By the mid 1960’s, word about epoxy resin’s superior chemical and fire resistant characteristics was spreading. One of the leading innovators, The Duriron Company had been fabricating piping and fittings from the new material.
In the early 1970’s Duriron (by now called Durcon) began making epoxy resin laboratory products. Also At this time a small stone fabricating company named Laboratory Tops, or LabTops for short, began fabricating the product and molding sinks from epoxy resin.
In the mid 70’s Laboratory Tops took its experience in sink manufacturing and began pouring LabTops Epoxy Resin slabs for the general laboratory market. The first mold was a replica of the stone standard of 6’long by 31” wide by 1.25” thick. By the late 1970’s epoxy resin manufacturers, Laboratory Tops and Durcon, were producing and improving the material and fabrication process. The mid to late 1980’s saw tremendous growth in the epoxy resin worksurface industry, with the material eventually becoming the leading choice for chemical and heat resilient, structurally durable worksurfaces. As a result, competition increased, quality increased and prices fell making the material both affordable and excellently suited to the harsh laboratory environment. With its quality focus and innovative spirit, Laboratory Tops was positioned to take a significant market share.
Laboratory Tops moved to an expanded manufacturing facility in the late 1980’s. The new facility, located at 206 Allison Drive in Taylor, TX was a state of the art production space featuring 75,000 square feet designed especially for the creation of epoxy resin worksurfaces, sinks and accessories.
The 1990’s, fueled by the booming economy, were a decade of innovation for the epoxy resin worksurface industry. New laboratories were being built at an unprecedented rate due to the need for updated facilities (many schools and research labs had been built in the 1940’s and 1950’s and were grossly outdated), new research (pharmaceuticals, electronics and biological sciences all made great advances in the 90’s) and new equipment (research was increasingly reliant upon computers and computer aided machinery and the old labs lacked wiring and bench space to support this new equipment).
During the 1990’s Laboratory Tops lived up to its innovative mission by introducing new formulations that raised the physical properties of the product as well as new products to keep up with the ever-changing lab environment. LabTops partnered with lab designers and architects to bring current industry standards to the market such as lipped “DropIn” sinks, ergonomic edge options and lighter more user-friendly colors.
In the first decade of this new millennium, the laboratory market saw tremendous growth and opportunity. During this time Durcon and Laboratory Tops merged into one company, keeping the Durcon name. This unified group quickly joined resources to develop new products including Durastone, which contained crushed granite and its first truly environment friendly surface solution, Greenstone, which combined post-consumer recycled glass with super tough hardened epoxy resin.
In late 2013 Durcon was acquired by residential and commercial surfacing pioneer, Wilsonart. Wilsonart continues to share its global resources to add to Durcon’s technical ability, capacity and efficiency.
The laboratory worksurface market for the next several years is promising. Thanks to a rebounding economy, a construction of new and improved schools and continued growth in the pharmaceutical and research industries, demand for epoxy resin is at an all-time high.