Common Types of Curing Agents for Epoxy Resin Systems

Basically, epoxy resin systems consist of two components, namely the resin and the curing agent (hardener), that react with each other to form a hard, inert material which is used in several applications to glue, seal, laminate or encapsulate other materials. Uncured resins are viscous solids or liquids which are usually long-chain polymers. These are often the bi-product of the condensation of Epichlorohydrin and Bisphenol-A, a general-purpose resin that demonstrates excellent resistance to alkaline, acid and other solvents.

On the other hand, curing agents (sometimes referred to as hardeners, accelerators, activators, catalysts or setting agents) can be roughly classified into the following groups: amines, mercaptans, sulfones, cycloaliphatics, and polyamides. This plays a major role in determining the properties of the final cured epoxy, including the drying time, pot life, and penetration and wetting ability. These various compounds are chosen according to the type of application, but basically once the curing agent reacts with the resin, it will form a very hard epoxy material.

Amines

The most diverse group of curing agents used to catalyze epoxy systems are amines and amine derivatives. These are also the earliest catalysts used with epoxy resins with its performance labeled as “unmatched” – a fully polymerized epoxy resin system exhibits a wide range of mechanical and thermal properties that will fit a variety of applications. Some examples of amine compounds include aliphatic polyamines, polyaminoamides, ketamine, alicyclic diamine, aromatic diamines and several others.

Mercaptans

When it comes to automotive, construction and various industrial applications and products, mercaptans are among the curing agents that are more commonly utilized. These have exceptionally rapid cure speed and hardness development properties that are perfect for DIY enthusiasts. Some types of mercaptans may offer cure speed of as fast as a minute to half an hour. These will also bond effectively on metal, concrete, glass, wood and other materials. Mercaptans may also be used to accelerate other catalysts such as amines and polyamides.

Sulfones

This agents are used for high performance applications because these offer outstanding chemical and thermal resistance properties that may reach up to 150 degrees Celsius. These are usually solid at room temperature and will require some increased temperature before application. These are widely used as adhesives and coatings for several applications such as in aerospace works, electronic encapsulation, potting, PCB laminates and more.

Cycloaliphatics

These ring structured aliphatics are basically ammonia with a single or more hydrogen atoms replaced by organic groups. These curing agents generally provide better resistance to water and moisture, weatherability and chemical resistance. These are designed for applications that require good electrical insulation performance, high-temperature resistance and UV resistance. Basically, these are commonly used for outdoor solvent-based coatings.

Polyamides

These are basically ammonia with a hydrogen atom replaced by an oxygen or carbon and organic group, which can also be considered as modified polyfunctional aliphatic amines. The reaction of polyamides with epoxy resins are also similar to amines but the ratio of the resin and the curing agent is less critical because polyamides are large polymers. Properties of the end material may either be semi-flexible to hard. These agents cure at room temperature, and may rapidly lose structural strength and insulation value with fluctuations in temperature, thus it is highly advised to be used for applications under 65 degree Celsius.

When using epoxy for certain applications, one must always keep in mind safety and, thus, handle the product with utmost care, especially the curing agents as these may be more irritating and sensitizing than the resin component itself. Most catalysts are active irritant for the eyes, skin and respiratory system. Some agents, such as amines, may even cause severe burns and other skin problems such as dermatitis. Thus, not only should one observe standard care procedures but should also wear necessary and appropriate personal protective equipment when dealing with epoxy resin systems.

Advertisements

Essential Considerations for a Concrete Floor Coating Project

Since the early civilization, concrete has already played a vital role in the construction of homes and buildings. Some of the structures built during those times are still standing up to this date – an evidence that this materials is indeed an excellent choice in terms of durability and strength. In modern era, concrete is still widely used, especially as a flooring system, for several construction projects such as malls, corporate buildings, hospitals, schools, airports and several others.

Unlike the olden times, nonetheless, buildings of today have smooth, bright, polished and beautiful-looking concrete floors, thanks to the advent in technology that paved the way for newer designs, and for the creation of floor coatings. Concrete surfaces are no longer left as they are – rough, uneven and a torture to the human eye. Instead, now we see residential, commercial and industrial flooring systems that are nothing but a display of magnificence! However, aesthetic appeal is not the only reason why people get their concrete floors coated. You receive tons of benefits if you opt for it such as added protection from chemical spills, thermal shock, skid marks and sudden impact. Not to mention, it makes cleaning and maintenance a lot easier!

There are several types of coatings available in the market today. Although this gives you more options, it also makes it more difficult to pick out that which will best suit your needs, more so the kind of surface you plan to cover. In choosing the right coating for the kind of concrete flooring you have, there are several essential factors you need to consider. These include the durability, overall performance, cost and maintenance requirement, and, not to forget, the aesthetic value. Coating a floor is a very complex process that does not only entail “pour-and-let-dry” method; every aspect of it needs to be carefully inspected to make sure that nothing stands on the way for the creation of a smooth, polished and well-bonded surface.

To make your life easier, and to ensure that things will go smoothly, it will be wise to seek the assistance of professional flooring contractors. These experts will not only look into these above mentioned factors but will also take into consideration whether the floor coating has to be level or slope into a drain. They will carefully inspect any leveling, sloping, patching or repair requirement, and chose a coating that is compatible to the surface to be worked on. Even with the help of flooring experts, it is also advisable to be knowledgeable of the different areas you need to look into before finalizing your decision on a specific coating. These include:

Durability and Strength – Not all coatings out there are of the same quality and durability. Others are not meant for high traffic areas, thermal shock, chemical spills, abrasions, heavy impacts, and the like. You need to keep in mind your needs and the damaging elements that your flooring system is constantly exposed to. A generally accepted maxim is that the thicker the application, the better is its performance.

Installation Schedule – A floor coating project varies in installation schedule. Some obvious reasons include the size of the area being covered, the condition of the workplace and even the temperature of the floor at the time of the installation. So, if you need to continue with your business as soon as possible, then you might want to consider fast drying floor coatings.

Life Expectancy – We all want to have a flooring system that will last forever, but there just isn’t a material that befits this feature. Coating products will surely add protection for your surface but this is not a guarantee for a long life expectancy of you do not do your own part – proper and regular cleaning and maintenance.

Aesthetics – As mentioned earlier, there are several option to choose from, it is now up to you to pick that which will suit your palate. In most cases, especially for residential and commercial properties, the choice will be based on the type of area to be covered and the overall design and style of the structure. Your hired flooring experts will also have several suggestions that you will certainly find very useful!

Concrete floor is certainly among the top choices when it comes to commercial and industrial structures, and even residential properties. This material has been tested by time and has definitely proven itself as a strong and durable material. Nevertheless, with the several damaging elements these surfaces are exposed to in modern times, these will certainly need some added protection, and what better way to achieve this but through floor coating. May this article be of great use!

Considerations before an Industrial Concrete Floor Coating

Concrete is one of the most common options when it comes to industrial flooring because of the several benefits this material provides. However, like any other option out there, this will eventually surrender to the harshness of the several damaging elements that certain facilities have such as foot traffic, abrasions, chemicals, extreme temperatures and so much more – resulting to cracks, uneven surface and an overall unsightly flooring system. As a porous material, this will gradually create dust from wear and tear.

Fortunately, during the past years, experts have developed several ways of protecting concrete from deterioration and contamination, and extend its lifespan in general. This is achieved through the use of highly sophisticated protective coating or surfacing products that not only provide added shield from such damaging factors but also offer several other benefits such as increased aesthetic value, ease of cleaning and maintenance, non-skid properties, chemical resistance and a myriad of other positive features.

Opting to protect your concrete flooring with coating materials is certainly a wise decision. However, there are several factors that need to be considered before one can get started. It is not simply choose and coat, unless you want to waste your time, effort and money on such venture. In essence, it is best to have expert contractors not only during installation but also from the very beginning of the process.

Evaluate the Area

Your contractors should evaluate the area they will work on. The concrete must be clean, structurally intact and without any foreign material that may hinder the application process. If the surface has imperfections such cracks and unevenness, it is very important to initially do repairing, leveling and patching. In doing so, the materials to be used should be compatible with the entire system and are of quality because cheap and low-performing leveling and patching materials will only compromise a good coating.

Another important aspect to consider is surface preparation – a step that has a huge impact on the longevity of the entire system. While there is no “best” way of preparing a surface, one must remember that even if the floor is new, this also needs proper preparation as much as an old surface requires – removal of curing compounds, achieving a desirable texture, and removal of surface laitance.

Identify Common Flooring Problems

1. Abrasion – One must always consider the amount of traffic and wear a surface is exposed to such as steel-wheeled or rubber-wheeled traffic – where the former would most certainly require special treatment procedures to ensure long term wear.

2. Impact or Pressure – The heavier the load, pressure or impact a floor is exposed to, the thicker coating it should receive.

3. Extreme Temperatures – It is essential to consider changes or fluctuations in temperature a surface is exposed to. Certain procedures, such as steam cleaning, may cause thermal expansion that causes the bond to loosen up. In selecting the appropriate coating material, the coefficient of expansion should be carefully considered.

4. Chemical Exposure – Certain chemicals cause major damages to flooring systems, and although concrete is naturally durable, it is no exception. Your contractors should assess which types of chemicals your floor is exposed to, including the frequency and the usual amount.

Other Considerations

Although, the following factors may not be as essential in the eyes of the contractor, these may be at the top of the priority list for the client. These includes aesthetics, life expectancy, time requirements and budget. Certainly, you would want a coating that would look great and would appeal to whoever lands his feet on it, a material that will last for several years, one that will not compromise the production of your facility and a product that is within your budget.

One must carefully consider all these factors before choosing a coating material because if certain areas are missed out, these may compromise the whole system and will only end up as resource-wasting project. As mentioned earlier, the entire process is best left to the expertise of reputable and trusted flooring contractors because they have the skill, knowledge and tools to accomplish the job from start to finish.

Essential Floor Coating Systems for the Food Industry

Every industry in the United States are obliged to adhere to several federal government standards to ensure that the safety of the general public and even the environment is not compromised. With this, the food processing industry is definitely no exception! In fact, because of the nature of the products produced by such industry, food manufacturing plants and facilities are under more critical inspection by regulators compared to other businesses. In this article, we discuss some regulations and the common floor coating systems utilized for the food and beverage processing facilities.

In comparison, let us take or example light industrial areas or warehouses which do not involve consumable good. Thus, these may pass even with uncoated concrete floors. On the other hand, food and beverage facilities with flooring systems not covered with appropriate protective coating will certainly have to face consequences. Remember that cleanliness and purity are cardinal factors for such business, requiring flooring systems with appropriate protective coatings.

The flooring system of a food and beverage processing plant is basically exposed to numerous corrosive byproducts which may cause major damage to the concrete. These contaminants can certainly infiltrate uncoated concrete, leading to consequences such as increased growth of bacteria – ultimately degrading the purity of the entire industry.

Now, the big question is, “WHAT is the appropriate coating to use?” In order to ensure safety and sanitation in a processing facility, industrial maintenance operators and managers need to know the right kind of coating that meets the demands and requirements of government regulators. They need to consider that the areas of a facility (including mixing and canning areas, dry and cold storage rooms, slaughtering areas and the like) are not exposed to the same corrosive conditions, byproducts, or other materials that are potentially damaging to the flooring system. Luckily, through the several developments in the flooring industry, different coating systems have immerged to manage such conditions. Here is a list of the most common coating systems for application in food processing industries.

1. Epoxy Coating

There are several types of epoxy flooring products approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), including 100% solids and high-solids epoxy flooring products. High-solid epoxy resin systems are a great choice for areas that are constantly exposed to alkalis and acids. This provides outstanding adhesion, has fast curing properties, compatible with textured and anti-slip additives, and can withstand abrasive cleaning. Further, this type is also low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

As for clean-room floors and even areas where highly acidic products are produced, a popular choice is the 100% solids binder resin which is not only self-leveling but is also easily applied with a notched trowel and back rolled with a texture roller. This type has strong bonding properties, is resistant to thermal and mechanical shock, and can withstand frequent high pressure hot water cleaning. Another type that is commonly used in less demanding areas such as food packaging rooms is waterborne epoxies. In addition, epoxies can also be blended with certain aggregates like quarts or marble for non-processing areas such as entryways or lobbies for an overall clean and appealing look.

2. Polyurea Coating

This is another common option for food and beverage industry floors because it is flexible, tough and resistant to high impacts. This is also odorless, formulated with no VOCs and dries up quickly to a seamless surface that can withstand extreme temperatures ranging from -20°F to 250°F. Since this coating is very elastic, it is very useful for cracked concrete, bridging gaps up to 1/8th of an inch.

3. Urethane Coating

Although it is somewhat costly compared to the other types, polyurethane coatings are also growing in popularity because of its several benefits, one of which is its superior resistance to thermal cycling. During application, this is also less odorous and results to a seamless surface that is very easy to clean. Additionally, there is a wide array of decorative choices which customers can also customize such as in the case of adding aggregates for more texture. However, one of the best benefits of such coating type is its fast-drying properties, allowing the progress of production in just six hours.

4. Methyl Methacrylate

MMA coating is commonly used for cold storage areas like walk-in freezers because this can be applied in relatively very low temperature, cure quickly and is low in odor, making the whole process more convenient and reducing the risk of imparting undesirable taste and odor to the stocked foodstuff.

These are the common types of floor coating systems which can be utilized for the food and beverage processing facilities. Always remember to adhere to federal government regulations and standards to ensure that your business will not bring about problems to both man and the environment. May this serve as your guide in making your business an instrument for safe and healthy food manufacturing services.

Safety Handling Procedures for Epoxy Resin Systems

Epoxy resin systems are among the most common materials utilized in several construction projects or even simple DIYs. Made from the combination of epoxy resin, a curing agent (also known as hardener), and other chemicals like fillers, solvents and pigments, this material is used in a lot of applications that both professionals and hobbyists perform.

Although most of the epoxy resin systems available in the market today are manufactured with both human and environment safety in mind, these may still pose chronic health risks through overexposure because epoxy resin is reactive and still contains the necessary epoxide chemicals. Thus, it is highly advisable to practice safety handling procedures and wear appropriate personal protective equipment when working with such material.

The most common means of exposure to epoxy resin systems is through skin contact. Even repetitive minor exposure can cause sensitization symptoms. Thus, to avoid such occurrence, wear appropriate clothing and protective gloves. For supplementary protection, use barrier skin creams. In the event that epoxy chemicals or mixtures get to your skin, immediately apply citrus or oil-based cleaners on the exposed area and thoroughly wash it with soap and water. If possible, also use skin cleaners to remove epoxy spills on your clothes.

It is also a must to protect your eyes with the appropriate eye wear because resin, hardeners, sanding dust and mixed epoxy can cause severe damages. If these materials get into your eyes, immediately flush with low pressure water for at least 15 minutes. If irritation or discomfort persists, seek medical attention.

Another common point of entry is through the respiratory system. Though some manufacturers create epoxies with very low volatile organic content (VOC), and these products evaporate slowly, overexposure through inhalation can be a problem in unventilated workplaces. Risks are increased in enclosed areas or when these products are heated. So, avoid breathing sanding dust and concentrated vapors, and ensure that your workplace is properly ventilated. Further, wear approved respirators when sanding epoxy because this process creates airborne dust that increases the risk for exposure.

Although the possibility is miniscule, ingestion of epoxy resin products may also be a means of exposure especially when it contaminates food and drinks. Thus, it is essential to thoroughly wash hands before eating, drinking or doing anything that involves the oral cavity. Also, have a separate dining and break rooms from your work areas. In the instance that you ingest epoxy, never induce vomiting because the curing agent is corrosive and doing so may only lead to more burns to the upper digestive system. Instead, drink a lot of water and immediately consult a doctor.

Aside from these safety handling procedures, always ensure that you are well informed of the product before using it. Read the product’s safety data sheet to familiarize yourself with its potential hazards and the essential first aid measures. If possible, use the least hazardous product available. In addition, always create a safe work environment. Properly store hazardous materials, ensure effective ventilation and have a first aid center and a kit readily available. Do a regular cleaning of the workplace to reduce contamination by uncured mixtures and wear the appropriate personal protective equipment when using epoxy materials.

Finally, practice proper disposal of waste materials. Never dispose of resin or curing agents in their liquid form because not only are these highly toxic, but are also combustible. Thus, it is necessary to mix and cure epoxy resin materials into a non-hazardous solid material before disposing. When it comes to spills, immediately control the situation and collect as much spilled material through absorbent towels, sand and clay. Never use sawdust or other fine cellulose materials because these can spontaneously combust. After which, dispose these properly. Remember, proper disposal of waste materials is always the responsibility of the user. May all these safety procedures essentially lead to a better and safer workplace for your protection, that of others and the environment.

Essential Personal Protective Equipment for Epoxy Resin

Epoxy resin is used in countless applications as a way to seal, laminate, glue and encapsulate metal and other components. This is being applied to surfaces in a variety of methods such as through the use of a paint brush, syringe, to molding or impregnation through a vacuum, and several other ways. This material is popular for its workability, low volatility and high mechanical performance. When properly handled, it can also be considered as one of the safest options for both common people and professionals working in coating and construction industries, composites and adhesives manufacturing facilities.

Though most modern epoxy resins are bio-based, the required epoxy chemistry or structure to create a high-performance material is still necessary. Thus, every manufacturer will advise users to wear necessary personal protective equipment and practice necessary precautionary measures when handling this material especially that this is reactive and may lead to health risks when overexposed through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact. People who are continuously exposed to such material may be ‘sensitized,’ meaning the person will eventually develop an allergy even to small doses of direct contact. The result may be as simple as development of skin rash or redness to more serious problems such as respiratory and systemic allergic reaction that will require medical attention.

The susceptibility of epoxy sensitization varies among individuals and some even show signs of central nervous system depression. Thus, the best way to prevent sensitization is to minimize exposure and have the necessary personal protective equipment. These include:

1. Gloves – There are different kinds of gloves that are used for different purposes. Make sure to utilize appropriate types when dealing with epoxy resin. When it comes to routine mixing and application, the PVC gloves is sufficient enough to prevent skin exposure to small quantities of epoxy resin and curing agent. However, this type of gloves is not suitable for certain instances as containing and cleaning up a chemical spill. When solvents are to be used to clean up a spill, polyvinyl alcohol gloves should be used for methyl chloride; neoprene gloves should be utilized for the use of acetone; and Nitrile gloves for the use of Freon TF.

2. Respirators – A respirator may be necessary for certain operations such as when mixing large amounts of the material or grinding cured epoxy. This is to protect oneself from inhaling vapors especially in unventilated areas. Thus, it is essential to get on with the Industrial Hygiene Office for the appropriate and approved respirator with an organic vapor cartridge necessary for the type of work and chemicals you deal with.

3.  Eye Shields – Protect your eyes from contact with hardeners, mixed epoxy and sanding dust by wearing appropriate eye protection. For most small scale operations, ordinary glasses should be sufficient. When mixing resins and curing agents, however, workers should wear splash-proof chemical goggles.

4. Booties – Disposable foot coverings should be worn by workers in areas where spills may occur, such as when transferring or pouring liquid resins into larger or smaller sized molds. These disposable booties may be removed after the operations and should be disposed properly.

5. Mixing Devices and Spill Materials – It is important that workers utilize mixing materials such spatulas or mechanized devices like a hand drill with an attached stirrer. Paper towels or adsorbent materials must also be readily available to wipe or mop up minor spills.

These are among the most important personal protective equipment needed when working with epoxy resins. Both professional workers and hobbyists should have these materials whenever the task at hand deems it necessary to avoid overexposure and contact. If in case major contact occurs, it is essential that one must seek immediate medical attention. At most, workers should also be knowledgeable and skillful in providing first aid services. Finally, never underestimate the negative effects of overexposure to epoxy resin and always work with great care and precision.

Epoxy Resin Systems – Health Hazards Prevented Through Professional Application

In today’s modern world, there have been a lot of developments especially in the construction industry. From the technology, to the equipments, techniques, materials and several aspects involved in building homes, and commercial and industrial structures, it is pretty obvious that man has certainly progressed massively (and still continues to discover several other developments that make things a lot easier and convenient for everyone). An example of which is the evolution of epoxy as a construction material.

When one mentions “epoxy”,  most people immediately associate it to adhesive or binder. While it is true that this material is used as a powerful adhesive, there are several other applications in which epoxy is being utilized. To name a few, we have paints, surface coatings, electronic component potting system, molded and reinforced plastics, dental cement, spray foams and a lot more. These are seen in applications that require durable and tough coatings, common in auto body shops, ship yards, aerospace, electronics and various construction industries.

Epoxy resin system, also known as polyepoxide or simply “epoxy”, is the combination of epoxy and a curing agent (also referred to as hardener or catalyst). At times, this also contains pigments, additives such as organic solvents and fillers like sand or fiberglass. The reaction of polyepoxides with themselves or with the catalysts will result to the formation of a hard thermosetting polymer that usually comes with strong mechanical properties and resistance to chemicals and high temperatures. Some epoxies harden in a few minutes while others need additional time to “cure”. The final characteristics of a hardened epoxy mainly depend on the epoxy monomers (single molecules), catalysts or hardeners, solvents and other fillers added.

While a hardened polymer is almost non-toxic, it is the exposure to the uncured resin components that can cause certain negative health effects. Epoxy products usually come in two types of packaging: two-component and single-component. In the former, the resin and the curing agent are separately packed and must be mixed together before application. On the other hand, a single-component comes in a pack where all the components are already mixed, making it less toxic, and the components do not evaporate easily into the air.

It is essential to let experts in the industry handle epoxy resin applications because, as mentioned earlier, the chemicals in this material can affect your health when you come in contact especially to the uncured form. Such harmful chemicals may enter your body through the skin or when these evaporate, form a mist or combine to the dust you inhale. The common signs of overexposure include irritation of the nose, eyes, skin and throat, asthma, skin irritation and allergy. Other solvents may also lead to dizziness, headache and confusion.

1. Skin – One of the common effects of epoxy resin is skin irritation which may result to itching, redness, swelling, and sometimes even flaking on the face and hands and other areas that are most exposed. Others may develop skin allergy after a few days of contact or after years of exposure. For those who develop sensitivity to such, they may have inflammation, redness, itching and blistering even for a brief contact.

2. Lungs – The vapors and mist formed by epoxy resin may also irritate the respiratory system. Cases of people developing asthma from the curing agent have also been reported and symptoms include shortness of breath, chest tightness, coughing and wheezing. People who are allergic to curing agents may also experience asthma attacks from the sand produced from grinding or sanding of hardened plastic.

3. Eyes, Nose and Throat – Irritation of the eyes, nose and throat is also very common which can also lead to development of headaches. If liquid epoxy or its components are splashed into the eyes, this may cause severe damage. In this case, one must immediately rinse the eyes with flowing water for about 15 minutes and then seek medical attention.

Another part of the body that may be affected by epoxy resin is the nervous system. When absorbed through the skin, this may cause headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, slurred speech and loss of consciousness. In addition, it is likely possible that epoxy resins may affect reproduction as it was found out to reduce sperm count and cause birth defects in laboratory animals. Similarly, older types of epoxy resins caused skin cancer in laboratory animals, but newer types do not seem to have such effect.

For years, people have been living and working around epoxies on a daily basis, more so for builders and epoxy manufacturers. Today, these materials have even become more available to common people that homeowners and several DIYers utilize these for several applications. With all these negative health effects, may those who are regularly exposed, or even those who occasionally utilize epoxy, be more cautious in handling such material. Better yet, let appropriate professionals deal with applications that require the utilization or epoxy resin systems.