Epoxy curing occurs when a curing agent combines with the epoxide compounds of epoxy resins to form a strong polymer bond. This process is very useful in household projects. One of the biggest drawbacks is the length of time it takes to finish the process. Speeding up the process of curing is possible and it starts with understanding the factors affecting epoxy curing time.
Sunlight and temperature are the main factors that affect curing time of most epoxies. The warmer your epoxy mix, the shorter the curing time. You can manipulate epoxy curing by speeding up the reaction by adding heat or slowing it down by making the environment cooler.
Step 1 – Mixing More Epoxy Curing Agent
The chemical reaction rate behind epoxy curing is increased when you add more epoxy curing agent to the resin. However, you should strictly follow the resin to hardener ratio in your curing agent’s label instructions. A good rule of thumb is using the same amount of hardener to the same amount of resin use. An example would be mixing half a bottle of hardening agent to half a bottle of resin. If you notice that your mix has become too hard and chunky; this means that your curing agent content is not in proportion with your resin. You can start experimenting with smaller portions of resin and curing agent to determine which ratio works for your mixture.
Step 2 – Controlling the Temperature
During the summer, you can extend your working time by leaving your mixing container in the shade or by putting it inside the refrigerator or ice cooler. Epoxy curing time is also faster in a large concentrated mass as compared to resin spread over a huge, flat area. In high temperatures, spread your resin mixture to a large and shallow paint tray to disperse more heat. Fillers such as fibers will also insulate the resin’s heat which helps speed up the reaction.
During winter or cooler weather, keep your resin mixture in a warm room or set them in a basin with warm water. Ideal temperature for resins and hardeners is 70 degrees F.
Step 3 – Adding an Epoxy Accelerator
You can buy an epoxy accelerator in your nearest hardware. Aside from speeding up the process, accelerators will also help you produce a better finish when the epoxy dries. There are several accelerators for different epoxy types. Using the wrong type of accelerator will only ruin your epoxy mixture. Read label instructions for the estimated curing time.
Step 4- Utilizing an Epoxy Curing Oven
An epoxy curing oven is used after the curing process itself. You should leave the mixture to initially cure first then heat it up in the oven once it’s completed. If you don’t allow it to initially cure before oven curing, the epoxy may be damaged. Extreme temperature in your oven can affect the epoxy’s durability; regulate your oven’s temperature with a thermometer.