Hailed as the first of its kind, Corian is the brand name for a top-of-the-line solid surface countertop material developed by DuPont scientists back in 1967. Today, there are several brands in the market based on the original Corian countertops development, including Samsung’s Staron and LG’s HI-MACS. These different brands differ mainly in the designs that they come in, which presents a myriad of beautiful designs for customers to choose from (with Samsung Staron coming in patterns interspersed with metallic dust).
Solid surface countertops are composite of synthetic polymers (acrylic and polyester) and alumina trihydroxide (ATH). The combination of flexible polymer and the fire retardant and chemically-resistant alumina trihydroxide layer also create a non-porous layer that is resistant to stains and bacterial growth. The particulates of alumina trihydroxides are also very fine, which lends to the smoothness of its colours. They are also fairly heat resistant (100°C) and are chemically inert (i.e. resists acid etching).
Another important advantage of solid surface materials is in how workable the material is. Corian-based solid surface materials can be sanded and polished without ruining the surface. Joints can be polished down to make seams disappear and cuts and scratches easily repaired with nothing more than a Scotch-Brite pad, or a mechanical sander.
But perhaps solid surface’s most attractive characteristic, from a design and manufacturing perspective is that Corian solid surface countertop materials are thermoformable. Thermoforming is the process of heating up a material to a sufficient degree as to make it malleable and stretchable, which can then be formed into a wide variety of shapes.
Thermoforming involves less complex fabrication tools, which make the process marginally cheaper than, say, injection molding. In addition to lower costs, thermoforming allows for much larger parts to be produced, which is useful for countertops.
Also, you’ll be glad to know that thermoforming manufacturers reuse most of their waste plastic, which is good for the environment (and cost!).
To ensure that their products are safe around people, solid surface countertop manufacturers like Corian adhere to strict production guidelines. Controlling the emissions of toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is important because, as its name suggests, can vaporize and mix into the air that we breath. Heavy metals are also not used in solid surface countertops, either, again for health reasons.
However, proper precautions should still be taken that care is taken when working around solid surfaces. Trivets and pads should always be used when placing hot objects on solid surfaces, as extreme heat would not only cause damage, but also burn and eject toxic fumes into the air.