Most people have probably seen epoxy in its cured plastic form, even if they didn't realize what it was. But what actually is epoxy? How do people make this strange glasslike material from chemicals?
In this article we'll explain what epoxy is, and how it comes to be.
What is epoxy?
Epoxy as a term is a bit vague. Commonly, it refers to the cured (solidified) forms of a group of polymers called epoxy resins.
The science behind this can go deep, but basically what makes epoxy resins work is that they are highly reactive under certain conditions at a molecular level, and that trait is what allows them to spontaneously bond with other epoxy resins or a secondary component called a hardener.
This two-component bonding reaction is what people who work with epoxy are likely familiar with. It involves mixing epoxy resin and a hardener to generate an exothermic reaction, which simply means that the two components are combining with each other at a molecular level, continuously releasing heat as they "cure".
In chemistry, curing is a process of transforming a polymer from a soft or liquid state to a hardened solid state.
For epoxy resin, curing is usually induced through heat. The exothermic reaction mentioned above is the source of the heat in most cases. It leads the epoxy mixture to gradually harden until—ideally—it has become an incredibly durable plastic.
In the case of epoxy, it is classified as a thermosetting polymer. This means that it cures through heat and that the process is permanent. It can't be reverted to its original liquid state.
Though cured epoxy is found in many forms used for different purposes, the one most people may know is a hyper durable epoxy often called table top epoxy. It has a glasslike finish and is used to preserve and protect softer or weaker objects and materials.
What is epoxy used for?
There are many uses for epoxy. Sometimes it is used to repair damaged constructs. For instance, a partially rotting wooden column can be cleaned out and filled with epoxy to restore it's integrity, allowing it to continue doing its job of supporting heavy weight without yielding.
Other times epoxy is used for protecting something on display or subject to frequent human interaction. An example of this is a kitchen countertop. Many homeowners will choose to build an epoxy countertop in their kitchen because epoxy is naturally clear and can display the beauty of any material it covers while simultaneously protecting it from damage normally caused by hard impacts, scratching, and moisture.
Still others see epoxy solely as a means to express themselves creatively. There are numerous artists who create epoxy arts and crafts using resin molds or through custom sculpting of cured epoxy itself.
In fact, with special color additives like mica powder pigments or special liquid pigments, many artists will create unique jewelry, figures (such as of animals), and utility items like epoxy coasters, charcuterie boards, and trays.
Where is the best place to get epoxy?
Epoxy resin has a reliable chemical formula. However, some manufacturers may seek cost-cutting measures when creating their own resins. A problem that may occur with these practices is that the epoxy resin doesn't cure as well. It may have trouble solidifying, or may be more susceptible to cracks and other forms of damage in the long term.
Epoxy resin that meets conventional standards is deemed safe to use, but not every manufacturer has the user's best interest in mind.
It's therefore important to buy your epoxy from a trustworthy brand. That's why we offer our own UltraClear epoxy brands. We wanted to make sure that people who need epoxy resin wouldn't worry about being sold a low quality product.
If you've been searching for a credible epoxy brand you can trust, take a look at our epoxy lineup. We offer only premium epoxy that meets the high resilience standards each customer deserves.
Have any questions or want assistance? Contact us!
At UltraClear Epoxy, we pride ourselves on providing excellent customer service. If you have questions about epoxy, or if you'd like assistance in planning an epoxy project or gathering the necessary supplies, contact us via email or phone here. You can also chat directly online with one of our epoxy experts by clicking the help button at the bottom right of your screen.