Step by Step Guide to using Epoxy Resin
Before you start you need to know what type of resin you are casting with. This guide is for Epoxy Resins only. Polyester Resins are a completely different process in which you need to use MEKP (Methyl Ethyl Ketone Peroxide) as your catalyst. Personally, Polyester Resins are a lot harder to use as you need to be VERY precise and use of a surface curers are needed most cases. Granted Polyester Resins are grand in their own application, but for the sake of costuming, chances are that you would be better off using Epoxy resins for the sake of simplicity.
You will be working with chemicals!!! So it is very important to wear gloves, work on a cover surface, and if the smells are too strong for you, wear a mask. You can get these supplies at hard ware stores or your plastics shop.
Where to get Epoxy resin:
Tripp’s House of Plastics -http://www.trippplastics.com/products/details.asp?PDID=310&catID=57 *Highly recommend. Great customer service*
What you will need:
-Epoxy resin and its hardener
-Graduated disposable mixing cups (regular plastic party cups will work too, but make sure not use the wzx coated cups!)
-Mixing sticks (i.e. popsicle sticks or straws)
-Covered work area
-mold release (I use the spray on stuff)
-Resin surface spray (optional)
Written step-by-step instructions below video.
Part One: Covers basics, safety, molds, and pigments.
Part Two:Covers mixing, pouring, adding pigment/dyes and curing.
Most epoxy resins will have instructions with it, but if your here chances are they didn’t, got lost, or your are just plan curious. Anyway let’s start!!
1. Put on your gloves!
2. If you aren’t using a designated resin or silicon mold, grab your mold and follow the directions of your mold release. Do at least two coats, maybe three. If you don’t put this stuff on it will be SUPER hard, or impossible, to get the resin out. Trust me, it is worth the $7. Make sure they are dry before you pour! If you are using silicon or designated resin molds mold release is not necessary. DO NOT USE LATEX MOLDS WITH EPOXY RESIN. The resin reacts negatively with the latex causing poor surface replication and quick degradation of you mold. I highly suggest you use silicon molds.
2. Heat up the resin. This is to prevent cloudiness and bubbles in your cast. Both bottles should be warm to the touch. If they aren’t, set up a hot water bath and let them chill in there for about 5 mins or until they are warm, not hot, warm. NEVER put this in the microwave or oven!!!! Resin is flammable and we want to keep the chard houses to the minimum. Also make sure your caps are on tight to prevent water getting into the bottle. Water and resin is like mixing water and oil.
3. Find an area that is relatively dust/lint free and that will not be disturbed too much for 24 -48 hours. Cover the surface with newspaper, cardboard, or just plain old wax paper. Anything will work, its just to catch possible spilled drops. By now your resin is warmed and your molds are dry from the mold release it is time to get mixing!
4. Pour EQUAL amounts of both resin and hardener into one of your mixing cups, i.e. 1:1 ratio. Pour only what you can use because once it is mixed you can’t save the stuff for later. If you are unsure how much to mix, fill your mold with water and then pour that water into a measuring cup. If your mold held a 1/4 cup of water then you need to mix together 1/8 cup resin with 1/8 cup hardener (as 1/8 + 1/8 = 1/4). Make sense?
5. Add any dyes or pigments to your resin now.
6. Mix nonstop for 2 mins. Make sure you scrap the sides and bottom to get it throughly mixed.
7. Pour mixture into a NEW mixing container, mix for another 2 mins. Again make sure you scrap the sides and bottom to get it throughly mixed.
8. After mixing, pour directly into your mold(s).
9. Let set for at least 24 hours before you remove it, ideally 48 hours.
10. If your want your cast to be super shiny, hit it with some resin spray.
11. Drill, carve, polish, cut away until your hearts content. Congrats you did it!
My Cast is still sticky!
You didn’t put enough hardener in. You might be bale to fix it by spraying the surface with Resin spray.
I have a lot of bubbles in my resin.
Either your resin wasn’t warm enough or you didn’t mix well. The warmer the resin is the easier it is for the bubbles to release themselves. Also mixing well will help reduce bubbles.
My resin is stuck in the mold!
Well, that cast is shot. Next time make sure you coat your mold with mold release or use polypropylene plastic molds.
It has been a week and my resin still has not set!
I have this issue a lot in the winter months. Epoxy resin works best in room kept between 70*-80*. If it is colder then that then the resin may not set, remain super sticky, and ruin your mold completely! So make sure you cast in warm room, and keep it warm for at LEAST 24 hours.