What is Epoxy Resin and How Does it Work?
Epoxy resin is a synthetic resin that is usually mixed with a hardener to start a curing process that results in a solid product. The curing process is exothermic meaning that heat will be produced while the resin cures. Epoxy resin is clear and can be colored with alcohol inks or resin dye.
There are a few different types of resin like UV-resin, deep pour resin, art resin, epoxy putty, and so on.
Some require you to mix them with a hardener to start the curing process like deep pour resin, art resin, and epoxy putty.
And others like UV-resin will cure when they are exposed to UV rays.
Epoxy vs. Resin. What are the Differences?
There is a common misconception that epoxy and resin are fundamentally different materials but that is not really true. Epoxy is essentially the finished product after the resin has cured. Resin is the uncured often liquid material.
There are a few differences between Resin and Epoxy. You can read all about the differences and why there is a differentiation in the first place in my article about the differences between epoxy and resin right here.
Choose the Right Type of Epoxy Resin for Your Project
There are a few different types of resin. Choosing the right type of resin is generally quite easy. You can look at the table below to quickly identify the best resin for your specific project.
|Epoxy Resin||Best Used for||Where to Buy|
|Art Resin||Jewelry, smaller castings, and thin coatings (less than an inch deep)||On Amazon or in local crafts shops|
|Deep Pour Resin||River tables, fake water for dioramas, big castings, and thick coatings (deeper than one inch)||On Amazon or in local hardware shops|
|Epoxy Putty||Adding details to miniatures, sculpting smaller figures, and gluing broken statues||On Amazon or in local crafts shops|
|UV-Resin||Thin coatings, adding shiny details, jewelry, and 3D printing||On Amazon|
|Epoxy Glue||Gluing various materials including metal, wood, plastic, clay, and more.||On Amazon or in local hardware shops|
You only have to ask yourself one question when choosing the right type of resin. How big will the area or the casting be? If you plan on making a river table or a big casting with resin then use deep pour resin. For the rest, use art resin, or for smaller applications use UV resin.
And if you want to glue something then use epoxy glue.
How to Use Epoxy Resin
- Prepare the mold or create barriers for the resin
- Mix and color the resin
- Pour the resin
- Pop the bubbles on the surface of the resin
- Demold the epoxy
- Sand and finish the epoxy
If you follow these simple steps then you will have no trouble working with epoxy resin. I will go over each of these steps in more detail in the following sections.
1. Prepare the Mold or Create Barriers for the Resin
When working with epoxy resin you will need something to pour the resin into that does not stick to the resin.
I recommend using silicone when you want to use molds or acrylic sheets when you need to create barriers for your resin project.
So create a barrier if you plan on pouring the resin on a table or for making fake water or place your silicone mold on an even surface before mixing the resin.
2. Mix and Color the Resin
Next up is mixing and coloring resin. I have a full guide on coloring resin that you can check out right here.
But generally, what you want to do is to mix the resin according to the instruction. Depending on the type and brand of the resin the mixing ratio will vary.
Use a digital scale to accurately measure both components before you mix the two compounds.
You can also color the resin at this stage with some alcohol ink or resin dye.
You can also use acrylic paint or paint pigment to color resin but then the resin will no longer be transparent.
3. Pour the Resin
Pouring the resin is a very important step.
Pour the resin very slowly and make sure that no air is trapped under any potential objects inside the resin.
Try to pour the resin in a very thin stream to reduce bubbles forming slightly.
4. Pop the Bubbles on the Surface of the Resin
Before you let the resin cure it is important to pop all of the bubbles inside the resin.
You can use a blowtorch to pop the bubbles on the surface of the resin. Simply slightly torch the surface of the resin with the blowtorch to remove the bubbles.
Alternatively, you can also vacuum-chamber to remove the bubbles from the resin. But those are expensive and can only be used on smaller projects.
There are also epoxy resins that are degassing but even those often have issues with bubbles forming on the surface.
When all of the bubbles are popped, cover the mold with something to keep dirt and debris out of the uncured resin.
5. Demold the Epoxy
Carefully remove the epoxy from the mold.
It is best to use avoid using sharp objects when removing the mold. I recommend using a plastic spatula or something similar.
6. Sand and Finish the Epoxy Resin
After demolding, the resin will most likely have some thin resin residue on the top parts of the walls or at the seams.
You can easily remove these with a sharp Exacto knife or a sharp box knife.
If the resin has scratches on it or other surface imperfections then you can get rid of those by sanding the resin. The finishing pass should be done with very fine grit sandpaper and some water.
Add some water to the sandpaper and then sand the surface of the resin.
This is called wet sanding and it is the easiest way to get the surface of the resin clean and smooth again.
Epoxy Resin Properties and Frequently Asked Questions
Is Resin Durable?
Resin is very durable. The durability of resin varies depending on the type of resin but it is generally very durable and can be used in a wide variety of projects without any issues.
Is Resin Hard?
Resin is about as hard as red maple once it is fully cured. So it is hard to put a dent in it but most resins can be easily scratched if they are not protected with a topcoat.
Is Resin Clear?
Epoxy resin is transparent and there are types of resin that are even as clear as glass once they have cured.
How Heavy is Resin?
Epoxy resin is not very heavy. 1 cubic foot (30,5 cm) of epoxy resin weighs around 62 pounds (28 kg) on average. In comparison, 1 cubic foot of ordinary window glass weighs around 157 pounds (71 kg) and 1 cubic foot of steel weighs around 493 pounds (223 kg).
How Temperature Resistant is Resin?
Regular art epoxy resin is not very heat resistant and can only withstand around 20°C to 60°C (68°F to 140°F) of direct heat. But special high-temperature epoxy resin can withstand direct heat of anywhere from 204°C (400°F) to 316°C (600°F).
Is Resin Waterproof?
Resin is generally waterproof. In my tests, I found that art resin, deep pour resin, epoxy putty, and UV resin are all waterproof.
Can Resin be Used Outdoors?
Resin can generally be used outdoors but only if it is UV resistant. Epoxy resin will eventually become brittle when exposed to the sun for multiple years, though.
Does Epoxy Resin Adhere to Wood?
Epoxy resin does adhere to wood and you don´t have to sand the surface before applying the resin. The epoxy resin adheres based on the surface energy of the material that it has contact with and does not only create a mechanical bond.
Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.