In a laboratory setting, sinks and equipment must be capable of withstanding frequent exposure to chemicals and hazardous materials. The right lab sink will not only hold up against a wide variety of substances, but also allow for safe disposal and easy cleanup. To avoid damage and corrosion, evaluate different types of lab sinks and select the best model for your specific needs.
Epoxy sinks consist of resinous polymers, which create a very strong and durable surface. Epoxy sinks can be moulded to form any shape or size, and may be built as part of the countertop or a separate unit. They are also easy to clean and often last for many years, even when exposed to harsh materials or conditions. According to the National Science Teacher's Association, epoxy sinks cost more than any other lab sink, but also offer the highest level of chemical resistance. This makes these sinks particularly well-suited to chemistry labs, where researchers and students use large quantities of corrosive materials.
Stainless steel sinks offer an affordable alternative to epoxy resin in applications with budget restrictions. According to the National Science Teacher's Association, stainless steel sinks typically cost less than epoxy or stone, but also provide less resistance against corrosion and damage from chemicals. Because of their decreased durability, stainless steel lab sinks often offer the best solution in labs where corrosive materials are used infrequently, such as elementary and middle school science labs. Because stainless steel is very easy to clean, it serves as an effective choice in labs which deal with biological medium, rather than chemical.
Concrete or sandstone sinks cost about the same as epoxy resin according to the National Science Teacher's Association. While stone tends to offer less durability and chemical resistance than epoxy, it may be found in older lab sinks that were installed before epoxy sinks became widely available. Stone may be more porous than other sink materials, making it more difficult to clean and decontaminate in a laboratory setting.
PVC sinks may be used in labs where researchers and technicians work with dry ice. According to the University of Michigan Department of Architecture, Engineering and Construction, dry ice may cause an epoxy resin sink to shatter. While PVC offers less corrosion resistance against caustic chemicals, it serves as an effective option for dry ice disposal. It should not be used in sinks subject to frequent chemical exposure or disposal.
- National Science Teacher's Association; Guide to Planning School Science Facilities; 2007
- A. Keith Furr; CRC Handbook of Laboratory Safety; 2000
- University of Texas at Austin Dana Center: Furniture, Fixtures and Accessories
- University of Michigan Department of Architecture, Engineering and Construction: Laboratory Casework