Earlier this year we launched a revolutionary new surface, backed by a technology which is entirely new to the worktop sector. This technology, years in development has been refined and honed over years of research and testing to produce what we now call Apollo Ceramicá.
What is sintering?
Sintering is the process of combining materials into a solid piece using heat. Think of Sintering as dry smelting; in that materials used are fused together, but do not become a liquid.
From the first ceramics produced 24,000 years ago, to some of the first in-tact finds from around 6,000 years ago, early sintering was used to create makeshift containers and jewelry from minerals dug from the earth. Over thousands of years we refined this process to produce stronger, more practical and cost effective products.
In the early 1900’s, Sintering piqued the scientific community, and was transformed by teams across the world trying to refine and perfect the process to create stronger metals, better conductors and more reliable machinery. For decades we pushed the standards and produced some of the purest metals and strongest alloys ever to exist.
Only in recent years has this technology returned back to its’ roots. Using raw minerals and compacting them using heat, compression, and vibrations to engineer the perfect stone.
How does sintered stone compare with Granite?
Granite, as with Quartzite, is essentially mother nature’s own sintered stone. Minerals fused together through intense heat and pressure over millions of years from within the Earth’s crust. Granite is extremely tough, and can blunt knives if used directly. It is also UV stable, naturally heat resistant, and is hard enough to withstand most household impacts without cracking.
The difference between these natural stones, and engineered sintered stones, is the ingredients. Granite rocks are comprised by chance selection of earth’s natural minerals. Apollo Ceramicá is a meticulous composition of the toughest and most resistant elements available.
Perhaps the biggest weakness of Granite is its’ natural porosity. Impurities in granite’s composition create micro-pores which can trap dirt and grime on the surface, causing dullness over time. Apollo Ceramicá as a sintered stone has overcome this issue, benefiting from a sterile manufacturing environment free of contamination, and a process of vibro-compression, which tightly compresses the particles to the point that the material is completely impervious to moisture.
How does sintered stone compare with Quartz?
Quartz, like Apollo Ceramicá, utilizes the strength of natural Quartzite, and is engineered to create a surface which is non-porous and easy to maintain. Both, as man-made materials, can produce highly consistent and beautiful designs; and can be produced in polished or matt finishes.
In terms of composition, Quartz is on average around 93% Quartz crystals, bound with dye infused resins. Because these elements are so densely compacted, Quartz is considered to be unrecyclable. Sintered stones however are the only man-made stone to be comprised of 100% natural minerals, with no resin binders. This means the material can be broken down and reused in future.
Sintered stones essentially are the next generation on from Quartz worktops, perfecting the blend of man-made processes with natural minerals to create a surface which is more resistant to chemicals, abrasion, scratching, impact & thermal shock. This means while they come at a higher price point, they are mechanically superior in every way.
What can you do with sintered stone that you can’t do with other worktops?
Because of it’s exceptional properties, Apollo Ceramicá opens up a new realm of possibilities. Extreme thermal shock resistance means that a worktop can be simultaneously heated and cooled at the same time, maintaining food and drink temperature directly through under-counter heating and cooling. This also means that hot pans and dishes can be placed directly on the stone surface, without damaging the surface. This ultra-tough surface exceeds the durability of Granite and Quartz, withstanding direct cutting without leaving a mark.
Apollo Ceramicá is also chemically sealed. This permanent treatment on all exposed edges in different from the oils and lacquers which can be applied to seal Granite and Wood worktops. Since this is a permanent chemical change rather than simply a protective layer, the resistant properties will be unaffected even after extreme temperatures and heavy duty scouring. This naturally antibacterial barrier means the worksurface is both hygienic enough to eat off, while still retaining a natural shine.
In terms of appearance, the purity of elements in Sintered Stone mean it can achieve a range of hues which are unobtainable by preexisting technologies. The whitest white and the blackest black, both possible with Apollo Ceramicá.
For more information and for our gallery of colours, please visit the Apollo Ceramicá product page