Epoxy resin refers to an adhesive synthetic substance with many uses in different fields of human activity. The production of epoxy coatings (or paints) is just one of the spheres where these resins are utilized. Due to their wide applications, the manufacture of epoxies generates a net profit of over 15 billion dollars every year.
Chemistry of Epoxy Resins
Epoxy resins are copolymers, i.e., they are formed from two chemicals, a resin and a polyamine hardener. When these components are mixed, a reaction called polymerization (or curing) takes place. This chemical process may be controlled via the temperature under which it takes place as well as the selection of hardener compounds and resin. Depending on these variables, it can last from minutes to hours.
Physical Properties of Epoxy Resins and Epoxy Coatings
Epoxy resins are most often used as adhesives in the construction industry. Although their properties may vary based on their chemical components, as a whole they are highly resistant to heat and abrasive substances. They can also serve as good electrical insulators and are often utilized in the electronics industry. The combination with a diamine makes them so strong and durable that it is practically impossible to melt or mold them. Most epoxy resins are clear semi-liquids, but you can tint them with an oil paint if desired.
Since epoxy coatings are produced from epoxy resins, they share many properties with them. The coatings, too, have outstanding resistance to corrosive chemicals and heat; they are extremely strong and can adhere to a wide range of surfaces, including glass, metals, fibers as well as numerous other materials.
Epoxy coatings can be subdivided into two broad categories, waterborne coatings and powder coatings. A waterborne coating is typically cured at room temperature; it is non-hazardous, has low flammability and, due to its water base, is easier to clean up.
A powder coating, on the other hand, is polymerized under controlled, high temperature and requires much greater preparation and attention when applied.
Uses of Epoxy Resins
As already mentioned, epoxy resins are used in a large array of construction, maintenance and repair activities. For example, they can be very valuable at home when it comes to repairing glass, wood, metal and leather articles.
In addition, they are used for some marine applications, although they should not be applied on outer layers because exposing them to UV light will damage the resin.
In the electronics industry, epoxy resins are employed in the production of transformers, insulators and switchgear.
These of the epoxy resins which cure through exposure to UV light are commonly used in fiber optics, optoelectronics and dentistry where they provide material for tooth fillings.
Uses of Epoxy Coatings
In building and construction, epoxy coatings may be used both for heavy-duty and decorative flooring. In the food industry, they are applied on metal containers to prevent rust and taste degradation. These coatings are also employed in the manufacture of boats where they serve as primers for decks and hulls.
General Safety Precautions
When using epoxy materials, make sure you work in a well-ventilated room. Avoid inhaling the resultant fumes and always wear protective gear according to the manufacturer’s prescriptions.
Any spills or excess material you can clean up by rubbing alcohol or vinegar.