A little over a year ago, I reported on some nifty new countertop alternatives coming out of Europe. Stone, wood, and tile all made appearances, but one granite alternative stuck out as particularly forward-looking: a nanotech material from Italian manufacturer Arpa Industriale, called Fenix NTM.
At first glance, this stuff doesn’t really seem that special—from afar, the look isn’t unlike any number of other laminate finishes you can apply to your average MDF or particle board countertop.
But unlike Formica and other traditional options, Fenix NTM has some high-tech tricks up its sleeve.
This stuff is soft to the touch, won’t reflect light (available finishes all have a matte look), repels fingerprints, has anti-microbial properties, prevents static buildup, and can heal micro-scratches with the application of dry heat. That’s down to the use of nanomaterials (particles less than 100nm wide) and next-generation resins.
Though it debuted in Italy, Fenix NTM has recently made its way to America through Willis, a distributor of building materials that also works with DuPont Corian and Zodiac surfaces. Unlike those finishes, however, Fenix NTM can be used for all sorts of non-countertop applications, including chairs, cabinetry, and desks.
Product reps at at Dwell on Design 2015 told me that in America, Fenix NTM is most commonly used for countertops and cabinetry, while in Europe it’s coming into its own as a solution for furniture. In both cases, it’s prized for its long-term durability and resistance to blemishes—something previous technologies struggled with.
At the company’s Dwell booth, I checked out a stylish IKEA-style modern desk and accompanying chair decked out in Fenix NTM, which comes in thicknesses of 0.9mm and 1.2mm (thin) or 10mm and 12mm (solid). The former is great for more flexible applications, like the chair, while the latter is ideal for flat surfaces like the desk (or countertops and cabinets).
The finish comes in a total of 14 colors, including eight solid shades, three iridescents, two wood grains, and one stone variety. All of these were on display at the company’s booth, but while the wood grain was convincing, I preferred the more modern-looking solid colors. Your mileage may vary.
If you’re interested in including Fenix NTM in your home or office, you’ll need to talk to your contractor about linking up with Willis for an estimate. According to John Topic, Willis’s national marketing manager, the material goes for an average of about $5 per square foot. Fabrication and installation will add to the cost, of course.