View Full Version : Is Corian brittle?

tony ennis
10-25-2007, 12:37 AM
You know, the fancy-pants counter material.

What are it's machining properties?

10-25-2007, 02:17 AM
Corian, the kitchen counter wonder.....

It is a "filled-epoxy" material, I believe. Can be cast to shape. It is cut & worked using normal carbide tipped wood working tools. Router bits work well on it. I've used a powerful router and carbide bit to cut holes in counter tops and hole saws to cut holes to mount faucets. Unlike granite, I haven't ruined a counter, either.

Like all plumbers, I tend toward the lazy side, I usually let the counter fabricator lay out & cut the sink & faucet holes.

Some similar material is used in schools, colleges & labs for bench tops. That stuff is tough & resists acids, alkalines and most solvents. I don't know how it would stand up to machine shop use though.

I have an artist customer who draws on her Corian counters (using felt pens I think), then simply washes off the artwork when she wants a change.

Have fun with it.

10-25-2007, 03:14 AM
I recently received some samples of Corian, with the intention of checking machining properties.

It machines like a dream on the CNC router. Holds fine detail and is quite tough. DOC up to 1/4" per pass and feed at about 9"/min gave a very acceptable finish.

I made a couple of small plaques from the 4" sq samples.

Tin Falcon
10-25-2007, 03:27 AM
Yes Very machinabble it is popular with the guys that make pen/pencil sets. I have built a couple of air powered gines from it. On the engines I used metal for the piston and crank shaft most of the other parts can be made from corian. It will machine with high speed steel.
with the right tooling you can get extemely smooth finishes. and it can be sanded and polished to a marble like finish.
Tony here is a link to my work.
also look up corian in the archives this topic has come up before.

10-25-2007, 06:23 AM
Yep,Us pen turners love it , it turns and polishes great.

It is brittle when it is thin , but what isn't?

10-25-2007, 09:11 AM
As a matter of interest, just how flat and what is the thickness of that "Corian" bench-top material in the "as supplied" state as used on bench tops?

I was wondering how good it would be as a rough-ish surface or marking-out plate or working surface in the shop. I use thick scrap laminated "float" glass at present and that is quite (very!!) OK.

10-25-2007, 09:45 AM
For my money, you'd be better sticking to the float glass Mick.

10-25-2007, 09:53 AM
For my money, you'd be better sticking to the float glass Mick.

Thanks Lin.

As you say, I will stay with the float glass.

tony ennis
10-25-2007, 10:29 AM
Think you can make gears out of it? Lots of small pieces of Corian on ebay, I'm just looking for alternate uses. Steel is probably cheaper. I'm just curious.

10-25-2007, 12:13 PM
Since it's a filled epoxy material, I wonder how good it would be as a mill/lathe base. There's a looong discussion going on at cnczone.com about using concrete or epoxy-granite composite as machine beds.

john hobdeclipe
10-25-2007, 12:16 PM
DuPont Corian is a mineral filled acrylic (not epoxy) material. There are many other brands available, some are high quality stuff, others may be a bit questionable. The generic term for this stuff is "solid surface."

Some brands of solid surface material use polyester instead of acrylic. These are the ones that are used in labs, etc. because of their chemical resistance.

The acrylic base materials can be thermoformed at about 280 degrees or so. The polyester base materials do not thermoform well.

You can't rely on it being or remaining flat. It will twist or droop or bend if not supported well. If the underlying cabinet is distorted, the surface will eventually distort as well. However it does make an excellent work table top if properly supported. Most brands are available in 1/2" and 3/4" thickness, and sometimes 1/4".

You can glue it together with CA adhesives, or you can get specially formulated adhesives just for solid surface. Most of the major manufacturers offer color matched adhesives that will create an invisible seam.

For household countertops I wouldn't use anything else. It's easy to fabricate and relatively easy to repair. It has a bit of "give" so things aren't as likely to break when dropped on it, unlike the harsh natural stone countertops that are all the rage today. And unlike plastic laminate tops, solid surface can be fabricated with all rounded corners and no sharp edges.

You can use the same carbide tipped saws and router bits that you use on wood. Keep in mind that the dust is very fine and rather abrasive.

More info, tools, adhesives, etc. can be had from these folks. http://www.specialtytools.com/

Pete H
10-25-2007, 12:18 PM
Check out the Wikipedia item http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corian - but note that it's "disputed".

Looks like the stuff is pretty strong, although it might be too brittle for gears. I recall that when I tried to cut some 1/4" Corian with a table saw, it chipped out, rather than cut smoothly. A bandsaw with an 18tpi blade did much better. It machines well, as other people have noted.

Also... DuPont has something else, called "Zodiaq" - it's an "engineered stone", supposed to be 93% quartz, bonded with a resin. It might be interesting to work with, but probably would beat the blazes out of tool edges, except for carbide.

I remember that grey-black stuff that they made lab countertops out of - I think that it contained asbestos, and probably was a variation on "transite". They stopped making it with asbestos some time in the 1980's. When we re-fitted our chemistry lab in 84, I scrounged some cutoffs of the new stuff. It cut reasonably well with a saw or drill, but tended to dull the tools. I always was very careful of the dust, though: Asbestos or not, fibrous materials just aren't good in the lungs.

Best, Pete in NJ

10-25-2007, 01:21 PM
One thing that Lab countertops, the black kind were made of is a material called fireslate which is a steam treated concrete with additives.

Zodiaq is a quartz epoxy composite treated with ungodly pressures and vacuum. See the Breton Stone Process patent from italy.

I think to do a good job of working zodiaq, one would have to use diamond tools.

Corian is acrylic with fillers but I got the impression that a lot of those fillers were also chipped acrylic. Not really sure.


10-25-2007, 01:24 PM
I think it's all been said above.

It's a great material for decorative or domestic use, but I don't see a place for it in the workshop. It scratches easily. Its main claim to fame is that scratches or burns can be easily sanded out.

Unless, maybe, you wanna pay a fortune for your anodizing line benchtop :D

Frank Ford
10-25-2007, 02:08 PM
It's the best counter top I've had, and I use Corian for small hand sanding blocks, and for occasional other things in the shop. But, the first time I tried it as a clamping caul for guitar repair, I cracked a 3 x 3 piece of 1/2" Corian with a simple squeeze of a small C-clamp. Since then I've heard from others who used it as a structural material, also with catastrophic structural failures.

Machines, carves and polishes beautifully, but it crumbles under pressure. . .


Frank Ford
FRETS.COM (http://www.frets.com)
Gryphon Stringed Instruments (http://www.gryphonstrings.com)
My Home Shop Pages (http://www.frets.com/FRETSPages/Machining/index.html)

10-25-2007, 05:59 PM
Copied from Frank Ford's post:
Machines, carves and polishes beautifully, but it crumbles under pressure. . .........

Thanks Frank.

Couldn't resist it.

Sounds like some people who either have a bad attitude in a work-shop or who shouldn't be there at all!


10-25-2007, 07:34 PM
From my experience it only comes in 1/2 inch sheets. It is brittle, easy to machine and tap. we use it to insulate the ends of large electric heating coils. it makes a good electric insulator and doesn't readily melt. it gets crumbly over time when exposed to too much high heat.

Tin Falcon
10-25-2007, 08:13 PM
it does come in 1/4 inch and 3/4 inch thicknesses 1/2 is most common. note: the wicapedian posts the "nutrallity "of the article was disputed as far as I can tell the facts are staight. i Think thay are saying someone from Dupont wrote the piece.
making gears out of it?? If it was a decorative hand cranked demo piece yes. to transfer torque or for change gears on the lathe no way would it hold up too brittle.

10-25-2007, 11:54 PM
Have not played with corian much, though I do have several samples. As far as gears go, I found that coffee table resin, envirotex or nu-lustre, whatever it's called, has just enough give to it to make decent gears. I don't know how trustworthy it would be under real world conditions, but of all the epoxies I tried, that worked best.

Back to corian, I'm glad to hear that it turns nicely. I'll have to find my pieces and make something.

Mad Scientist
10-26-2007, 01:23 PM
I agree it with all that has been said, it does machines nice, however when milling one needs to be careful not to break corners off.
It is best used it to make “pretty” things, do not use where extreme strength is required. It is too brittle.