Epoxy resins have been around since 1943 but their popularity outside of industrial use has risen quite significantly in the last couple of years. Especially the arts and crafts space has begun to use epoxy a lot, me included. But what exactly is epoxy and what can it be used for?
Epoxy resin is a reactive substance that cures to a solid when it is mixed with a hardener. Epoxy often comes in two parts, the epoxy resin, and a hardener. Epoxy can be used as glue, for woodworking, jewelry making, and even for 3D printing.
There are many use cases in the hobby realm but most epoxy resins that are sold in hardware stores are specifically for gluing.
In this article, I will tell you, in simple terms, what epoxy resin is and what it can be used for. You will also learn what kind of resins there are and what these are commonly used for.
What is Epoxy Resin
I could tell you the exact chemical composition of epoxy resin but that is quite complicated and in the end, you will probably still be confused and not know what epoxy resin is, just like I was. So what is epoxy resin in simple terms?
Epoxy resin is a synthetic resin that consists of reactive polymers with epoxide groups. While polymers can be organic, epoxy is synthetic. It is basically a type of plastic that is liquid until it is mixed with a hardener at which point it will start to cure and become solid.
Epoxy resin can take many forms like liquid epoxy or kneadable putty epoxy but the basic principle is always the same.
You have two compounds (the epoxy resin and the hardener) that have to be mixed in a specific ratio to start the curing process of the epoxy resin.
Important to note is that resin is not epoxy. There are epoxy resins that cure into epoxy and there are resins that usually cure into acrylic. If you want to know more about the differences between epoxy and resin then consider reading this article that I wrote about the topic.
After the epoxy is cured it will be solid. This makes it a really strong glue as it adheres to surfaces in its liquid form and once it is cured it will bound the two parts together really strongly.
But epoxy is not just used as glue.
What Epoxy is Used For
Epoxy has a very broad spectrum of applications.
You can find it being used in many different industries, in a lot of hobby projects, and even for commercial use.
Epoxy Resin as Glue
Epoxy resin adhesives can be found in almost any craft store or hardware store.
Epoxy resin can be used to glue plastics, metal, wood, stone, ceramics, and many more materials.
You can find epoxy glue in syringes that will mix the glue as you apply it, in separate tubes that you have to mix manually, or as an epoxy putty that you have to knead until the two compounds are sufficiently mixed.
All of these epoxy resin variants are waterproof once cured and will adhere to almost everything with the exception of some plastics.
Epoxy adhesives are also used in the industry to glue heavy-duty items to each other.
When anchoring heavy-duty machines to a concrete slab, for example, epoxy resin is often used to permanently fix the bolts and therefore the machine in place.
Epoxy Resin for Crafting
Resin is also used a lot in crafting. I personally use it for many of my projects in a lot of different ways.
Here are some of the ways that resin is used in the crafting world.
Epoxy resin is used in woodworking a lot these days. It can be sanded almost like wood and it is just as if not even more durable than wood.
Epoxy resin can be used to fix holes in wooden surfaces, glue slabs of wood together, create river tables or similar projects, encase wood entirely in resin, coat wood surfaces in a protective coat of epoxy resin, and more.
There are literally thousands of ways that you can use epoxy resin in woodworking projects.
Using epoxy resin for jewelry making isn´t new but it has spiked in popularity recently, especially on Etsy.
Resin jewelry is easy to make and you will get amazing and long-lasting results without the need to learn how to work with metals.
Resin jewelry often utilizes other materials together with epoxy resin such as wood, metal, or even dried flowers.
This is another area where epoxy resin has recently become very popular in.
There literally is no other way to make fake water effects more realistically than with epoxy resin.
The liquid resin is colored with alcohol inks and then poured into an area of the diorama where water should be. Then, after the resin has cured, waves are added by utilizing white crafts glue or something similar to create the illusion of water ripples on the surface.
This method of making fake water is so effective and looks so realistic that many dioramas nowadays use it to great effect.
Epoxy Resin for 3D Printing
But not only the crafting world has seen an increase in resin used. The world of 3D printing has seen the introduction of a new kind of 3D printer.
The resin 3D printer (also called SLA-Printer).
This printer is mainly used for making highly detailed figures or other models that have a lot of details on the surface level that a regular FDM 3D printer would not be able to print.
These printers work by using UV-resin. This type of resin cures when it is exposed to UV light.
Read on if you want to know more about the different types of epoxy resins there are.
Different Types of Epoxy Resin
There are a lot of different types of epoxy resins out there and I will not cover every single one of them as there are simply too many.
But I will tell you about the three most frequently used epoxy resins. Liquid epoxy resin, UV-resin, and epoxy putty.
Liquid Epoxy Resin
Liquid epoxy resin is by far the most used resin in the arts and crafts world.
It starts out liquid and transparent. It can be colored and will only start to cure when it is mixed with a hardener.
This type of resin is often used for making river tables, resin jewelry, dioramas, and so on.
If you want to know how to work with it then consider reading my guides on how to color epoxy resin and what kind of resin is transparent and which is not by following the links.
UV resin is really unique because it does not require a hardener to be added to it to start the curing process. Instead, the resin is cured as soon as it is exposed to UV light.
While most epoxy resins need multiple hours or even days to fully cure, UV resins will often cure within minutes.
UV-resins are mostly used in the arts and crafts world and for 3D printing.
Epoxy putty is most often used as glue.
Epoxy putty comes with two compounds that have to be combined before the curing process starts. It can be used to glue almost anything with some rare exceptions.
But epoxy putty is also very frequently used to fix holes and gaps in miniatures or for adding details to them.
Green stuff is probably the most widely known brand of epoxy putty.