In the early 1960s, 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 1960s, 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 1970s, 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, began fabricating, as well as molding sinks, from epoxy resin.
In the mid-70s, 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 72" long by 31" wide by 1.25" thick. By the late 1970s, epoxy resin manufacturers Laboratory Tops and Durcon were producing and improving the material and fabrication process. The mid and late 1980s 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 affordable, in addition to excellently suited for the harsh laboratory environment. With a focus on quality and innovative spirit, Laboratory Tops was positioned to take a significant market share.
Laboratory Tops moved to an expanded manufacturing facility in the late 1980s. The new facility, located at 206 Allison Drive in Taylor, Texas, 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.
Fueled by the booming economy, the 1990s 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due to the need for updated facilities (many schools and research labs built in the 1940s and 1950s and were becoming outdated), new research fields (pharmaceuticals, electronics and biological sciences all made great advances in the 90s), and new equipment (research was increasingly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 1990s 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 the 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 such as Greenstone, which combines post-consumer recycled glass with super tough hardened epoxy resin for a more environmentall friendly option for laboratories.
The laboratory worksurface market remains promising. Thanks to construction of new and improved schools and continued growth in the pharmaceutical and research industries, demand for epoxy resin continues to grow.
View a timeline of Durcon's history over the decades here.