How can I cure epoxy resin faster?
Sometimes you may find yourself in a situation where you need to speed up the cure time for your epoxy resin. Cure times for epoxy resin vary. Here are some suggestions on the fastest way to cure epoxy.
Before we get into that though, let me take a bit to explain a little resin chemistry so you know what we are dealing with. An epoxy resin kit contains a bottle of the epoxy resin plus a bottle of the hardener. They are sold together in a kit and designed to go with one another — like a lock and key. Once hardener is added to resin, a chemical reaction occurs causing the mixture to heat and eventually solidify. Without the heat production, the mixture would never get hard. Likewise, if the surrounding temperature of your resin casting area isn’t warm enough, the mixture won’t cure because it can’t maintain the temperature of the reaction.
So we can speed up resin curing by attacking one or both of those variables: the warmth of the reaction and/or the warmth of the casting area temperature.
Warmth of resin reaction
1. Warm up your resin and hardener bottles in a hot water bath for about five to ten minutes. By warming the bottles, you can jump start the reaction with additional heat. This will help the resin to cure faster. If you want to learn more about this, be sure to check out the article what temperature should I mix resin.
2. Once you have cast the resin, apply extra heat. You can do this with a heat gun or propane torch. Watch your resin carefully. There can be ‘too much of a good thing’ and applying too much heat in one area can make that spot cure quickly and possibly crack or cure with lots of bubbles.
Casting area temperature
Resin ideally likes a temperature of the low 70’s F or low 20’s C. So what are some ways we can raise the temperature?
1. Create a resin ‘hot box’. By increasing the resin working area’s temperature you can speed up resin curing. A heat source such as a lamp with an incandescent bulb over the resin can be enough to keep it extra warm. Here are some articles showing how to create a resin hot box:
2. You can cast your resin outside if that temperature is above the recommended 70 to 75 F temperature range.
3. Cure your resin in a warm oven. A 150F oven is great for helping resin to cure faster. *Once you have used an oven for resin curing, do not use it for food purposes again.*
What should you not do?
-Don’t add more hardener than recommended. This can reduce the pot time of your resin, and it may start to cure before you can get it all poured.
-Don’t use a different hardener than the one that came with your kit. It is likely incompatible and your resin won’t cure at all.
-Don’t mix more than the maximum of each component that the manufacturer recommends. Your resin and hardener will heat up too quickly and will cure before you can ever pour it.
-Don’t add anything extra to the mix to get it to cure faster unless the manufacturer recommends it.
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