Silica-free benchtops are crafted using alternative materials and processes to avoid the health risks of crystalline silica, which can cause inhaled silicosis. The production of these benchtops involves using different materials that provide similar durability, aesthetics, and functionality without silica. Here’s a look at how silica-free benchtops are made:

Materials Used:

Recycled Glass: Recycled glass benchtops are made from crushed glass combined with resins or concrete. This process not only avoids the use of silica but also promotes sustainability by reusing glass materials.

Resin-Based Composites: These benchtops use a mixture of resins and other natural or synthetic materials (like quartz engineered to be silica-free). The resin acts as a binding agent, giving the surface durability and various aesthetic options.

Natural Stone AlternativesMaterials like soapstone and certain types of granite have low silica content and can be used as safer alternatives. Soapstone, in particular, is non-porous and resistant to heat and stains.

Manufacturing Process:

Material Preparation: Recycled glass is sourced from post-consumer and industrial waste. It is cleaned and crushed into small pieces. Resin-based composites involve preparing the resin mixture and combining it with fillers, pigments, and other aggregates.

Mixing: The glass or other aggregates are mixed with the binding agent (resin or concrete). Pigments may be added to achieve the desired colour and pattern.

Molding and Pressing: The mixture is poured into moulds that shape the benchtop slabs. It is then compacted and pressed to ensure the materials bind tightly and uniformly. Sometimes, vacuum vibration removes air pockets and creates a denser material.

Curing: The slabs are cured to harden the binding agent. Depending on the specific material and manufacturer, this process can involve air curing, kiln drying, or a combination of both.

Polishing and Finishing: After curing, the slabs are polished to the desired finish, whether matte, satin, or glossy. The edges are also finished according to design specifications. Surface treatments, such as sealing, may enhance durability to protect against stains and scratches.

Health and Environmental Benefits:

Reduced Health Risks: By eliminating or significantly decreasing silica, these benchtops minimise the risk of silicosis and other respiratory issues for workers and end-users.

Sustainability: Many silica-free benchtops incorporate recycled materials, promoting environmental sustainability and reducing waste.

Using alternative materials and advanced manufacturing processes, silica-free benchtops offer a safer and more sustainable option for kitchens and laundries without compromising quality or aesthetics.