How to Choose Epoxy Curing Agents
Epoxy curing agents are chemical reactions that form a cross-linked three-dimensional network that converts the epoxy resin into a hard material. Epoxy resin defined is a polymer created through a combination of epoxide resin with polyamine hardener. Epoxy resin includes a wide range of activities to which it is put to use. There are plenty of epoxy curing agents found in the market today. In non-technical language, the curing agent serves as an additional support to the hardening of the epoxy resin.
The epoxy curing agent industry over time has continued to grow with an expansion of epoxy resin products. A health risk of the epoxy resin products however, may result in a severe allergic reaction if one is sensitive to the hardener or the epoxy-curing agent. Certain steps must be considered in choosing the epoxy-curing agent to be used.
Step 1 - Know the Material Type
Know the materials for which you will be using the epoxy resin; there several types of epoxy resins for every surface. Paints and coating require less epoxy strength because of the surface texture; generally the ratio of this epoxy resin to hardener depends on the type of surface of the material.
Another type of epoxy is those that harden when exposed to ultraviolet light. These are mostly used in optics, fiber optics and dentistry.
Thus it is essential you first identify the material you shall be using it for; this is vital for choosing the right epoxy-curing agent.
Step 2 - Know the Proper Room Temperature
For some epoxy resins in specific and more difficult projects such as aircrafts and automobiles, the curing agent can only achieve maximum effectiveness if cured at a prescribed room temperature. Some epoxy curing agents have very specific temperatures; i.e. to achieve durability to the fullest.
Some types of epoxies may be used at a wide range of temperatures; e.g. well below freezing to significantly above boiling. These curing agents are perfect for glass like castings and potting applications.
Step 3 - Know the Time Span of the Curing Agent
The dry time will give you a better idea as to the time requirements to successfully complete your project; you must consider the time it takes to dry at a given temperature. A typical all temperature epoxy has a hardening period for the epoxy resin of 24 hours at 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
The dry time is an important consideration; variations in temperature may create a faster curing period. You need to also consider the time limit of the curing agent to work properly. You might be extending the exposure of the epoxy-curing agent way too long which will reduce its durability later on.
Step 4 - Know the Cure
Follow the instructions provided with your intended epoxy. Mix with the proper ratio prescribed in the curing agent instructions. Be fast yet gentle at the same time, some surfaces need delicate handling. If the expected results do not meet your demand, you might need another epoxy-curing agent.