(from Googles wise Geek)
Melamine resin is used in Formica and similar construction products made from composite materials. Formica is made using melamine resin, which is used to coat the fibers in the upper layer of the construction product. The melamine resin makes the end result heat resistant, so that hot objects can be set on the counter without concern. The surface of the material is designed to be easily wiped and cleaned, creating a long lived household product.
Maybe there're different grades of melamine, the only product I ever dealt with was cabinet interiors, (easy cleaning, bright white) had to be careful not to scratch during install.
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