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Topic: Resin Safety?  (Read 2645 times)
Tags for this thread: resin , safety , epoxy , polyester , fingernail_polish , floor_polish , resin_simulations , diamond_glaze  Add new tag
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mclaire
« on: June 06, 2009 06:05:29 PM »

Hello,  Smiley.  Posting here as I'm interested in working with resin as part of a project for my mother's birthday.  The trouble is I'm worried about working with the resin formula itself, as I'm discovering that they typically suggest using NIOSH approved respirators?  Is it really that toxic?  I was surprised.  My level of concern comes from the fact that I suffer form a health problem that causes my immune system to be more vulnerable, and I don't want to take any major risks here.  On the other hand, I was really excited to finally get started playing around with resin as it has appealed to me for quite some time. 

Does anyone have any ideas of something I could use to replicate the look of resin, specifically for pendants and things?  Even if it's not quite as nice, I'd still like to experiment.

And if I do go about this the traditional way, what is my best bet for doing it safely and properly?  Do you have to use a new mask every time?  Are there perhaps even formulations available that don't require these extra safety precautions?

Any input would be of great value to me.  Thank you for your time!!

martha claire
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2009 08:28:26 PM »

depending on what type of project you are doing there are several alternatives to resin..

sealers,diamond glaze,glossy accents,DG3(which is similar to diamond glaze) you could also use clear embossing powder..

so again depending on the application you have several options..

with resin again depending on brand and type some are more fumey than others..I use easy cast it has low odor but still using the same precautions-mask,gloves,etc..

one thing to also think about is the fumes while its drying..there maybe no odor but there still may be gases in the air making sure that where it dries doesnt interfere with your health..it could travel through the vents too...
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Diane B.
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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2009 08:02:55 AM »

First, keep in mind that there are different levels of "safety" for the different kinds of craft resin.
In order of worst to best, they are:
...polyester resin (Clear Polyester Casting Resin with Catalyst--by Castin' Craft/ETI, for example)
...regular epoxy resin (Envirotex Lite, Ultra Glo, etc)
...tweaked epoxy "casting" resin (Easy Cast)
...soft-set epoxy resin for containers, and often silk flower arrangements, etc. (also called floral setting resins)

The polyester stuff is definitely the worst (it's the one that's mixed with a small amount of the catalyst to a large amount of the second part...epoxies are mixed one-to-one).  As long as the opening, mixing, using, etc, is done with plenty of ventilation and you don't stand over it and breathe deeply (or don't wear a suitable mask--about $20 at a hardware store I think), it should be fine though for occasional work with it.  (Always have ventilation or a mask when sanding any resin though because any airborne particulate matter can get into one's lungs.)
Some of the others may be really "safe."


As mentioned, there are other materials that will also give a thick, clear, glossy coating to objects, and many of them are less problematic than polyester resin at least.  
Just how you want to use them would make a difference too though since some are more easily scratchable, and more susceptible to later clouding from humidity, than others.  In approximate order of "hardness" and least scratchability to most scratchability, some other alternatives to clear resin would be:
...clear, water-based, gloss polyurethane
...clear fingernail polish (certainly acrylic, and perhaps others)
...cyanoacrylate floor polishes (Future-Pledge, Mop 'N Glo)
...liquid polymer clays (may be the hardest?), but must be cured and difficult to get truly clear if not thin
NOT SURE OF THE ORDER OF THE REST... MAY BE ABOUT THE SAME:
...clear "acrylic mediums" (intended to be mixed into acrylic paints)
...other kinds of "one-part resin" (I don't know a lot about those, but see 1st link below)
...clear embossing powders (UTEE)
...permanent "white glues" (Sobo, Elmer's GlueAll, etc) thinned down with water,  and "dimensional white glues" like Glossy Accents or Diamond Glaze, for example (the new version, DG3, is supposed to be better but still has the problem)

All of those could be laid on in layers or all could be used inside shallow "cells" of various kinds to contain them (but none will "dome" when added to a flat surface except for the dimensional glues and epoxy resin).  
Some cannot be used for deep applications of over 1/2" or so, even when applied in consecutive layers (regular epoxies).
Also, the tweaked epoxy (Easy Cast) tends to get softer and somewhat flexible when exposed even to body heat so that has to be taken into consideration.
(And floral setting resin wouldn't be good for most jewelry applications unless the surface weren't exposed very much--it's soft and collects dust).

If you were simply putting the clear material into a "cell" of some kind though (say into a metal bezel frame, metal bottle cap, polymer clay cell/frame), then the scratchability possibility becomes less important because the hardened material will likely be below the level of the walls of the cell and so somewhat protected depending on how it's worn or used.


There's lots of info on all those kinds of resin as well as other ways to similate resin on this page of my site:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/other_materials.htm
....see Polyesters and Epoxies, and also click on Simulations of Resin

And this page deals most with the polyurethanes ("Varathane" is a favorite in the polymer clay community because it's UV resistant and has an "interpenetrating network" which means it gets down into the surface more deeply than most other polyurethanes), cyanoacrylates, fingernail polishes, etc:
http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/finishes.htm


HTH,

Diane B.

P.S.  Given your situation, also be careful with things like E-6000 glue.

« Last Edit: June 07, 2009 08:26:23 AM by Diane B. » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2009 01:03:59 PM »

As long as you have good ventilation and a mask, you have nothing to worry about. I usually do it in a room with the door closed, window open, and a mask, and when I'm done casting, I leave the room for a few hours. (I usually do it before I leave the house to do other things.) I also have fans on the floor because resin fumes are heavier than air. I put my filled molds in shoeboxes and leave them to cure outside until the resin is set.

You don't need to change the filters on the mask every time - which is good, since the filters cost around $10. You need a filter rated for OV (organic vapors) for casting. As others mentioned, you also need to wear a mask when you're sanding, but you need a different filter since you need it to filter out particles, not vapors. I think the one that I have is P95 or P100. There are also combo filters that block both particles and vapors, but they cost twice as much - since they basically have the two layers sandwiched together - so since you don't need to block the particles and the vapors at the same time, the combo filters aren't best suited for resin casting. I imagine it's also more difficult to breathe with the combo filter than with a regular filter.

There isn't a good way to know if the filter is still working that I know of. However, to prolong filter life, take them off when not in use and store them in a ziplock bag. This way, they're not "filtering" anything that might be in the air, getting dusty, and so on.
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