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What is epoxy?

About epoxy

This high-performance thermosetting polymer was developed in Germany and Switzerland in the 1930’s and quickly made a name for itself as a flexible and useful binding agent for coatings, adhesion, and other manufacturing applications. While Dr. Pierre Castan made breakthroughs with the first cured epoxy polymer, Dr. Sylvan Greenlee in the United States was conducting similar research simultaneously. His formula for epoxy resins went on to become the most widely used commercial-grade resin in the world. Scientists were thrilled to discover that epoxy had many other uses beyond its intended application as a coating. Today, epoxy is used in the food production, pharmaceutical, aerospace, automotive, maritime, electronics, and manufacturing industries, among others.

Epoxy can be used as a glue when mixed with a hardener

 

Properties

The fundamental component, the end-product resin, and the epoxide functional group are all called epoxies. Epoxy can be produced as a viscous liquid or as a crystalline solid with a high melting point. All forms of epoxy share certain characteristics: they are durable, strong, resistant to chemicals, fires, moisture, shrinkage, impacts and stains and easy to clean and decontaminate. They are also watertight, have favorable electrical properties and very long shelf life. Epoxies are highly modifiable, can be produced with a high or low molecular weight and can be reacted with various substances (such as hardeners) to achieve different chemical and physical properties. Some examples include infusion resin, which has a low viscosity and an ambient cure, and heat-activated epoxy resins for compression molding and protrusion

Applications

Epoxies are so vastly modifiable that the range of applications seems limitless. Epoxy enhances, protects and insulates coatings and paints, and their sheer strength makes them suitable for coating wind turbines, power stations, satellites and vessels. Epoxy resins are particularly useful in the wind energy sector and are responsible for maximizing size, efficiency and corrosion resistance of wind turbine rotor blades. Epoxies also coat floorings in public buildings such as clinics, and they also coat vehicle surfaces, electrical components, water pipes, and canned products.  Light, strong and durable sporting equipment are manufactured in or coated with epoxy resin.

 

Production and processing

Epoxy resins are the result of a reaction between epichlorohydrin and bisphenol-A, or a similar material. In a reactor, the elements are charged, combined with caustic soda, then boiled. This is followed by phase separation, rinsing and vacuum distillation. Epoxy resins are transformed into a rigid, solid form by curing with hardeners such as polyamine or aminoamide. The curing process has one of two effects: either the epoxy resin reacts with catalytic homo-polymerization or it becomes cross-linked with the hardener. The epoxy thermoset polymers that result from the curing process can be blended or mixed with further additives to achieve the desired physical and chemical properties.

Main advantages of Epoxy

  • Reliable and durable
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Lightweight
  • Highly versitile