Allow the lay-up to cure for a minimum of 24 to 36 hours before handling.
Optimum cured properties can take up to 7 days depending on the ambient cure condition.
The ideal temperature cure condition of most room temperature epoxy resin is 22 to 27 degrees Celsius at 20% relative humidity.
Higher ambient curing temperatures will promote faster polymerization and development of cured mechanical properties.
Improving mechanical performance via post heat cure
A short heat post cure will further improve the mechanical performance of most epoxy resins. Allow the applied resin system to cure at room temperature until for 18 to 24 hours and if possible, expose heat cure it in an oven or other source of radiant heat (220°F to 250°F) for 45 minute to an hour. You can also expose it to direct sunlight but place a dark colored cover, such as a tarp or cardboard to protect it from ultraviolet exposure.
In general room temperature cured epoxy resin has a maximum operating temperature of 160°F or lower.
A short heat post cure will insure that the mixed epoxy system is fully cured,
especially for room temperature cured system that can take up to 7 days to achieve 100% cure.
Some darkening or yellowing of the epoxy resin may occur if over exposed to high temperature (>250 F).
The affinity of an amine compound (curing agent) to moisture and carbon dioxide creates a carbonate compound and forms what is called amine blush. Amine blush is a wax-like layer that forms as most epoxies cure. If the epoxy system is cured in extreme humidity (>70%).
It will be seen as a white and waxy layer that must be removed by physical sanding of the surface followed by an acetone wipe.
Although we have formulated the MAX CLR, MAX BOND and MAX GPE product line to be resistant to amine-blush, it is recommended not to mix any resin systems in high humidity conditions, greater than 60%.
Always make sure that the substrate or material the epoxy resin system is being applied to is as dry as possible to insure the best cured performance.
OTHER TYPES OF EPOXY RESIN CURE MECHANISM
LATENT CURING SYSTEMS
Latent epoxy resins are systems that are mixed together at room temperature and will begin polymerization but it will not achieve full cure unless it is exposed to a heat cure cycle. In general, these are high performance systems that demonstrate exceptional performance under extreme conditions such as high mechanical performance under heat and cryogenics temperatures, chemical resistance or any environment that epoxy room temperature system perform marginally or poorly.
Upon the mixing of the resin and curing agent polymerization will begin and will only achieve partial cure. Some resins may appear cured or dry to the touch, this state is called ‘B-Stage Cure’ ,but upon application of force will either be gummy or brittle almost glass-like and will dissolve in most solvents. The semi-cured resin must be exposed to an elevated temperature for it to continue polymerization and achieve full cure.
UV CURING SYSTEMS
Similar to “addition cure” or catalytic polymerization, Ultraviolet Curing is another method that has gained popular use in the polymer adhesives and coatings application. It offers a unique curing mechanism that converts a liquid polymer into a solid plastic upon exposure to UV radiation. The two common commercially significant method are “FREE RADICAL INITIATION” and CATIONIC REACTION. In both reaction polymerization occurs via decomposition of a Photoiniator blended within the resin system; upon exposure to adequate wavelength of Ultraviolet energy the photoinitator degrades and cause a ring opening or cleavage of the photoinitiator molecule and induces rapid polymerization or cross linking.
The polymerization reaction can be either free radical or cationic and occurs almost instantaneous creation of a polymer network.
HEAT ACTIVATED CURING SYSTEMS
This type of epoxy system will not polymerized unless it is exposed to the activation temperature of the curing agent which can be as low as 200F and as high as 400F. In most instances our MAX EPOXY SYSTEMS epoxy system can be stored at room temperature and remain liquid for up to six months and longer
USE AN INFRARED HEAT LAMP FOR LARGER PARTS IF A PROCESS OVEN IS NOT AVAILABLE
POSSIBLE HEAT CURING TECHNIQUES
If an oven is not available to provide the needed thermal post cure, exposing the assemble part to direct solar heat (sun exposure) for a period will provide enough heat cure for the part to be handled.
Other heat curing such as infrared heat lamps can be used if a heat chamber or oven is not available.