So many options... Features to Know

Updated: Apr 19





For people who are unsure about the differences between our various resins, here is a condensed list of the features of each resin. A handy & hopefully helpful guide showing the differences & similarities to help you know which resin might be most suited for your project.


All epoxy resins are fantastic, but it’s important to find the right features for you & your projects. Some have a lower/higher heat resistance, some don't cure as hard, some are more susceptible to scratches, etc. Also when price comparing, it's not always apples to apples, as you are not only paying for the specific amount of resin ordered, but the quality of the chemicals and the properties each type offers.


Epoxy resins are all often developed for certain types of applications and some can cross over in to other areas, just keep in mind they will perform best for the applications they are designed for. If you decide to use a resin in an application it is not developed for, you may end up disappointed in your results.


Also note, different features in resins will add to epoxy resin costs. For example, when looking at high heat needs (countertops, coasters, trays, etc), they are higher priced (due to higher priced chemicals used to achieve that feature). Many UV additives also increase costs of epoxy resins, so if you are always colouring your resin, all the more expensive UV additives may not be required, and a less expensive resin can be used on those projects. If you are using clear resin or a lot of white in your projects, you will want a resin with good UV preventative additives, and they do reflect in the overall costs. Regardless of marketing claims, please note all resins do eventually yellow, but some will last many decades with barely any yellowing, and some will yellow very quickly (environmental factors plus preparation can also play a role). If people overheat their resin during creations, this can cause premature yellowing as well. Resins that cure crystal clear with low to no bubbles also have expensive additives that are not used in the less expensive resins. Some resins cure harder then others as well. While all epoxy resins do cure to a solid, they have different hardness ratings (look for their Shore D hardness rating). Wall art, and many mould casting projects (floral preservation, many decorative mould projects) often do not require the higher hardness ratings (sometimes referred to as softer cure resins). However wine caddies, cell phone holders, bookmarks, etc., will require a harder curing resin, so they don't go pliable and bendy in use or warmer temperatures.



Top-Coating Resins are often referred to as art resins, or countertop resins or finishing epoxy resins. These can usually only be poured 1/8"-1/4" thick per layer. The softer cure resins are okay to be used on artwork, but you'll want a harder curing resin for counters, tables, trays, coasters, charcuterie boards, tumblers, etc. A harder cure resin can also be used on artwork. These are usually a 1:1 ratio, and are often a medium to high viscosity, but some of the softer curing ones are low-medium viscosity. Thicker (medium to high) viscosity resins are great for doming. Top-coating resins have various cure times averaging from 8 - 24 hours depending on brand and volume used.


NOTE: For Resin Art - If you are creating resin art using coloured resin, and wanting to achieve certain designs on wall art, such as lacing (like you see in ocean waves), cells or designs that hold their shape a bit, you should use a thicker (medium to high) viscosity top-coating resin. Thinner (low) viscosity resins tend to be so fluid, that their movement often causes artists lacing, cells or designs to flow and loose their shape they worked at achieving. Also, when making wall art such as the geode inspired pieces, a thicker viscosity resin will often be more suited to pouring the various sections you may desire. If you want a super fluid flowy look and not needing any design shapes to hold, then a thin (low) viscosity resin can be used for wall art. Sometimes if people have a thinner viscosity resin, they may let it sit a bit to thicken to desired consistency, but this is not ideal, as the risk of pre-mature exotherm increases as it sits.


Most Casting Resins are best suited for items you would make in moulds, (and/or turn on a lathe, and sand down). Casting resins work best if poured a minimum of 1/4" up to roughly 2" deep (per layer), check each brands recommendation for their maximum suggested depth, as they are not all the same. However note, this is also often dependent on numerous other factors (type of mould, mass, inclusions, etc.). There are a variety of viscosities in casting resins, typically low to medium. There are also softer and harder cure options in casting resins, plus different mix ratio options (1:1 and 2:1 and 3:1 ratios). Casting resins have various cure times averaging from 24-48 (and more) hours, depending on brand and project (volume, environment, mass etc).


Small objects like jewelry and baubles often work best with a craft type casting resin such as Liquid Diamonds or iCoat TP21 hard cast (which can be cast in very shallow moulds 1/8" up to 2-3" per layer, depending on mould type & mass). Some artists do use their top-coating resins for jewelry as well, and in their shallow moulds (under 1/4"). Top-Coating resins tend to be medium to thicker viscosity, and can have potential to bubble more, so not always ideal for clear castings, unless you preheat the resin prior to mixing. If someone uses a resin in deeper layers than recommended, the resin will go in to pre-mature exotherm (some refer to as flash cure).


Deep Pour/Depth Casting Resins can often be poured from 1.5" up to 3 to 4" per layer, and is more commonly used in river table type applications or deep moulds. Each brand is different, but note that the shallower the resin is poured, the longer it will take to cure. If pouring under the deep pour recommendations, you should look into a non deep pour epoxy resin for that layer. These deeper pour casting resins are usually very low viscosity, and not as hard curing. They often come in 2:1, 3:1 even 4:1 ratios (our iCoat Depth is a 2:1 ratio). Deep pour resins have various cure times averaging from 48 to 72 hours plus, depending on project (environment, volume, mass, etc.).



 


***ArtWorks Resin is a top-coating resin, developed for artwork & various coatings. It can be used for wall art, tumblers, cheeseboards, trays, coasters, table/counter tops & more.


***Liquid Diamonds Casting resin was developed for the crafting industry. Great for things like jewelry, casting in moulds, pen turning, knife making, dice making, etc.


*** iCoat CT Counter Top (high viscosity) and

iCoat CT Medium Viscosity Epoxy Resin, are the same product, but with different viscosities. Both are top-coating resins that can be used for art, counters, trays, tables, coasters, wall art, tumblers, cheeseboards & more. These are our hardest curing epoxy resins. You can use either product for any top-coating needs, however for countertops and tables, it is recommended to use the regular countertop version (which is higher viscosity). The medium viscosity was created as an option for people who like to use the epoxy in projects requiring more manipulation and needing a thinner product to work with and better bubble release (then the higher viscosity version). The Medium Viscosity is ideal for wall art, small moulds such as jewellry, thin coasters, tumblers, a finish top coat and more.


*** iCoat CE2100 HV Casting Resin, developed as a 1:1 ratio casting resin to be used in moulds from 1/4" up to approximately 1" layers per session (dependent on various factors). This is a medium viscosity, softer curing casting resin often used in floral casting, river tables, and a variety of casting projects. Two layers a day is possible with this resin (project dependent).


*** iCoat TP21 Hard Cast Casting Resin, is a 2:1 ratio slow cure casting resin. It is often used for bubble free clear casts including jewelry items, and in shallow moulds that require harder cures, or deeper moulds up to approximately 2" layers per session (dependent on various factors). This is a low viscosity, harder curing casting resin. Also great for bubble free floral casting, and any casting projects requiring a hard cure.


*** iCoat Depth Deep Pour Casting Resin, is a 2:1 ratio deep pour resin developed for use in river tables, deep pour charcuterie boards, and moulds, minimum 1" up to max of 4" depth, per layer, mass, volume & temperature dependant



All resins start with similar basic chemical makeup, then each brand adds different additives and chemicals to give them their unique features for their usage (which also gives their pros & cons depending on your needs & preferences).


 

The resin names were shortened below to initials on this post as follows: ArtWorks Epoxy Resin = AW

Liquid Diamonds Casting Resin = LD

iCoat CT Counter top Regular (High Viscosity) = CT

iCoat CT Counter top Medium Viscosity= CT/MV

iCoat CE4100 HV Casting Epoxy = HV

iCoat TP21 Casting Epoxy (Hard Cast) = TP

iCoat Depth Casting Epoxy (Deep Pours) = DP

iCoat Fast Set Epoxy = FS



*UV Protection

AW has added UV protection and added HALS for extra UV resistance,

LD has added UV protection

CT, CT/MV, HV, TP, DP have recently added the most up to date UV technology available

FS is susceptible to ambering and does not have added UV stabilizers.


* Food Safety - FDA Compliant, FDA 21CFR175.300

All our resins have same food safety as all the leading brands, which are all FDA Compliant.


*Ratio, All Epoxy Resins are Two Part (Part A Resin and a Part B Hardener). If it's a 1:1 ratio, and your project requires 6 oz total for example, then you would use 3 oz of Part A & 3 oz of Part B. If needing 6 oz using a 2:1 ratio, then you would use 4 oz Part A Resin, and 2 oz Part B Hardener. If the resin is a 2:1 ratio, (divide total needed by 3), then you would use two parts of the larger container (Part A Resin), and one part of the smaller container (Part B Hardener). . You can use our handy resin calculator(s) page to assist in determining amounts needed for various projects.

AW 1:1 ratio

LD 2:1 ratio

CT and CT/MV 1:1 ratio

HV 1:1 ratio

TP 2:1 ratio

DP 2:1 ratio

FS 1:1 ratio


* Viscosity

AW Medium viscosity (thick like thin syrup)

LD Low viscosity casting (thin like water)

CT High viscosity (thick like a thick syrup)

CT/MV Medium Viscosity (like a thin syrup)

HV Medium viscosity casting

TP Low-medium viscosity casting (almost like water)

DP Low viscosity deep casting (thin like water)

FS n/a


* VOC's

All our resins are NO VOC's.


* Odour Our resins are all considered low odour, and typically will not leave lingering odour (overheated resins & premature exotherm will effect odour). Heavy torching or using heat gun can strengthen any resin odour. Typically odours come from the hardeners, and once opened, exposed to oxygen and aged the odour can get stronger. If you are sensitive to odour, try to use your resin within 3 months of purchase, and be extra careful not to overheat.

AW mild odour

LD very low odour

CT and CT/MV mild odour

HV low to mild odour

TP low to mild odour

DP low to mild odour

FS has an odour


* 100% Solid Systems Epoxy

All the epoxy resins in our store are Solid Systems Epoxies


* Mix Time

All our resins should be mixed about 4 minutes, but check the cup to see if there are striations following your stir, and if so, continue to stir until they are gone. If it's mixed thoroughly sooner, you don't need to stir the full 4 minutes. While stirring, occasionally scrape around the sides of the cup, and across the full bottom, to incorporate any product that may be sitting on the edge. If it gets poured on to your piece that unmixed part can effect your results.

In some cases people like to recommend to switch to a new cup and stir a bit more, but we don't find that necessary. Some resin manufacturers (Liquid Diamonds used to) recommend switching cups, but no longer does, unless you struggle with your mixes not coming out thoroughly mixed.


* Work time (pot life/open time) This often changes depending on temperature (of environment & resin), additional heat (torch/heat gun etc used), and ratio of colourants added, and more importantly for top-coating resins, how long it sits in the cup. To increase your work time with top-coating resins, get it out of mix cups asap, and poured on to the surface as quickly as possible. Leaving resin sitting in mix cups will shorten work time & possibly cause pre-mature exotherm (flash cure). If you are pre-heating the resin, this also shortens work time.

. Whereas with casting resins, it is sometimes (brand dependent) suggested to allow it to sit in mix cup for 3 - 5 minutes to de-gas, prior to pouring in moulds.

AW about 35-40 minutes

LD is 45-60 minutes

CT and CT/MV both about 35-40 minutes

HV about 45-60 minutes

TP about 60+ minutes

DP about 4+ hours

FS ?


* Maximum/Minimum pour depths TopCoating resins self level about 1/8"d but should not be poured in moulds over 1/4"d. Casting resins max depth below are all based on a variety of elements from temperature, mass, volume and shape of mould. More enclosed moulds, as an example, sphere moulds will hold in more heat, so layers should be poured shallower. Also when casting with organics, it's better to pour shallower layers throughout project area where the flowers are.

AW 1/8” (up to max 1/4") per layer, per session

LD up to 2” or so per layer,

CT and CT/MV 1/8" up to maximum 1/4"d per layer

HV Min 1/2" up to Max about 1"d, temp, volume, mass & mould dependent

TP 1/8" up to Max about 2"d, temp, volume, mass & mould dependent

DP Minimum 1.5", up to a maximum of 3-4" deep, temp, volume, mass & mould dependent.

FS ?


* Cure Times (Cure times vary greatly depending on environment, temperature and humidity, and for casting resins on mass, volume, and mould shapes used. The more resin the quicker it will cure. For deep pour casting resins, if too little resin depth is poured, it may not cure completely, or it may take a very extended time to cure. The warmer the room, the quicker the cure. If a room is colder then recommended, the resin may be unable to go through proper cure cycle resulting in improper cure). Also note if the the curing project(s) are exposed to temperature variances during cure cycle, it may effect the casting negatively. All epoxy resins continue to harden for up to 3 weeks to 30 days after initial cure (at which time they also reach their maximum heat resistance).

AW is Fast curing resin in only (8 to) 12 hours temperature & humidity dependent. Can recoat in 4-5 hours.

LD Cures to demold time in about (16-) 24 hours (project dependent), slow setting casting resin. Machinable at 24-48 hours @ room temperature of 78F.

CT and CT/MV Cures to touch in about 12-24 hours (or overnight in warm room). Often can recoat in about 8 hours.

HV Cures to touch in about 8-24 hours (lower depths will take longer), but if pouring 1/2" depth for example in a 6"x6"x3" mould, you can do 2 coats per day typically (project dependent).

TP Cures to touch in about 48 hours (lower depths may take longer). TP will still be liquid gel like at 24 hour mark, but typically cured by 48 hour mark (project dependent).

DP Cures to touch in about 48-72 hours to demould, lower depths will take longer. If poured at 2 1/2"d, will take about 30-48 hours to demould, volume, mass & temperature dependent. Thinner depths will need longer time to cure, and possible over 48-72 hours based on environment conditions, volume, mass etc.

FS Tacks in half hour, cures in ?


Note: All epoxy resins generally continue to harden for up to 3-4 weeks after initial cure, at which time they reach their full hardness rating & heat rating. iCoat epoxy resins are at 98% cured at 14 day mark


* Heat Resistance/Tolerance in Fahrenheit/Celsius, Unless specified otherwise, most heat resistant/tolerance ratings are NOT based on direct contact at that temperature. This means they can handle the item sitting in an extremely hot car for example, and it will remain in stable condition. Thinner items made with lower heat tolerances (below 200F/93C for example), will often go bendy in warmer temperatures.

AW 266F/130C

LD 244F/117C

CT and CT/MV Scorch resistant up to 500F/260C

HV 250F-300F/121C-148C

TP 250F-300F/121C-148C

DP 250F-300F/121C-148C

FS n/a?


* Shore D Hardness Scale Resins are scratch resistant, but no epoxy resins are scratch proof. The harder curing resins will not go pliable or bendy in heat (after full cures). The softer curing resins (if used in thinner mould applications), may go slightly pliable after full cure when exposed to higher temperatures, but will return to normal once exposed to normal temperatures again. iCoat epoxy resins are at 98% cured at 14 day mark.

AW D83, cures very rigid and rock hard, does not remain pliable, nor go pliable in heat

LD D78 cured after 24 hours (1/4" sample) cures hard, does not go pliable in heat.

CT and CT/MV D85 at 14 days, (D80 at 7 days), remains hard, does not go pliable

HV D63 at 14 days, (D58 at 7 days), a bit more of a softer cure resin, if poured in too thin layers could go pliable/bendy in warmer temps, but returns to normal once out of heat.

TP D78 at 14 days, (D74 at 7 days), cures hard, does not go pliable

DP D71 at 14 days, (D65 at 7 days), due to depths this is poured it will remain hard.

FS ?


* Environment Temperature & Bubble Dispersion. To ensure best results in getting to know your epoxies in your area of the world, and your own work space environment, we highly recommend you get used to using an infrared thermometer, regularly. Some people also like to have a hygrometer in the room, to measure and keep track of humidity in their work/curing space. If you live in a very humid climate, keeping an eye on humidity can help with reducing amine blush in the thinner casting resins. You want to ensure temperature of room is in correct range for type of resin. Some resin bottles (brand dependent, but more often the thicker higher viscosity types), may need warming prior to mixing for best results. You can aim an infrared thermometer down the neck of the open resin bottles to see if they are at an ideal temperature for using, and to see if you need to heat the bottles before pouring. Just because your room is warm, does not mean your resin is too. Guessing often ends in undesired or less then best possible results.


Top-coating resins are typically thicker and bubbles will be created during mixing. If it's colder resin or you are stirring fast, there will be more bubbles, however this is not typically an issue when using as a top-coating resin, since bubbles are torched out easily on most surfaces. If needing less bubbles because of using top-coating resin in a project in a mould, you will need to pre-warm your resin bottles, to reduce amount of bubbles in mixing process. This helps to avoid using torches on sensitive moulds. To protect moulds use a long neck barbecue lighter on small moulds, and keep flame away from mould & resin. Many people prefer to use (99% or 91%) isopropyl alcohol misting to remove bubbles, but that can cause tiny indents or issues on some resins if overused. Alcohol breaks down epoxy resins, so be careful with how much, and ensure it's only a fine mist to reduce any potential issues.


AW Use in room temperature of 72-77F (23-25C), and resin should be in that temperature range as well.

LD due to it's super low viscosity, has low to no bubbles. Ideally use in a room temperature of 72-80F (23-27C), and keep room temperature consistent throughout cure process. If used correctly you will have no micro-bubbles. Often people will heat their resins to make them more viscous, however LD will not get any more viscous then it already is, so it is not necessary to heat LD bottles prior to mixing.

CT/MV Use in a warm room 72-77F (23-25C), resin bottles if cool may need to be warmed prior to mixing. They should be at least as warm as room. But if using in moulds, you will need to heat bottles up to 82F/27.5C before mixing, to help reduce bubbles in moulds.

HV Use in a warm room 72-77F (23-25C), With this resin, always warm resin bottles to 82F/27.5C to help avoid microbubbles, and make it more viscous.

TP Is low viscosity, and has no bubbles unless they are introduced. Use in a warm room 72-77F (23-25C). Only warm bottles up if they are cold (such as 60F/15.5C range), but best results will be from this resin being about room temperature to start.

DP Is low viscosity, and has no bubbles unless they are introduced. Use in a warm room 72-77F (23-25C). Much like the iCoat TP, this resin does not need to be pre-heated prior to mixing, it will not get any more viscous, just be sure the room is a good steady temperature throughout cure, and the resin is not cold.

FS - ?


* Gloss Finish

All our epoxy resins have a high gloss finish.


* Shelf Life

All our resins have a shelf life of 12 months unopened, and 6 months once opened. Ideally try to use up resins within 3 months of opening. Also, try not to purchase more then you plan to use within a 6 month period.



For more detailed information about each of these resins, see the information tabs related to the product.


Cheers,

Michele

ArtWorks Resin Canada



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