High pressure laminate is what most people refer to as ‘Formica’ it is manufactured by saturating layers of paper with melamine resin, then pressing them under heat and high pressure to form a single sheet of laminate.
Laminate benchtops themselves are manufactured by pressing the laminate sheet onto a substrate (usually particle board) between 30mm and 70mm thick. Leading edges can be formed to a top and bottom radius of between 6mm and 15mm or square clashed.
There are differing levels of quality when it comes to laminates. Usually thicker is better, however the thicker laminates will not form around a radius tighter than 9mm whereas thin laminates will. Also premium laminates such as textures, metallics, and high gloss are more expensive than standard range laminates.
Roughly 80% of all benchtops supplied in New Zealand are laminate. Their popularity stems from the huge range of colours and finishes available and the fact that they are good looking, hard wearing, long-lasting, easy to clean and inexpensive compared to other benchtop options.