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The epoxy resin systems discussed in this brief outline are primarily epoxy formulations.

Plastics were introduced in tooling applications during World War II to alleviate a critical metal shortage. The first tooling plastics were phenolics and polyesters. These materials, although fairly satisfactory, posed a number of disadvantages which limited their versatility. Epoxies were introduced as tooling resins during the early 1950's, and, by the end of that decade, were utilized in about 90% of existing tooling applications.

Epoxy resins may be thought of as building blocks. When reacted with hardening agents, they become tough, infusible systems. In other words, they are thermosetting resins.

Such a crosslinked network could be contrasted to a thermoplastic resin, such as polystyrene or polyethylene.

THERMOPLASTICS are solids which are formed using heat and pressure. THERMOSETTING resins usually begin as liquids which are converted to solids by chemical reaction only.

Epoxy tooling resins offer speed and ease of manufacture, are light in weight, and possess excellent strength properties (particularly when suitably reinforced with woven fiberglass fabrics), in addition to the following advantages:

  1. NO REACTION by-product or volatile loss during cure. Large castings or thick sections without voids are thus possible.
  2. LOW SHRINKAGE - allows accurate reproduction of molds.
  3. VERSATILITY - a wide range of resins and curing agents allows selection of the best combination for each job.
  4. ROOM TEMPERATURE CURE - optimum physical properties can be achieved without use of an oven.
  5. TOUGHNESS - epoxy resins exhibit great shock resistance.
  6. CHEMICAL RESISTANCE - systems can be formulated which are impervious to many organic and inorganic chemicals and solvents.
  7. ADHESION - tenacious adhesion of a variety of substrates, including wood, glass, metal, rubber, plastics, and others.
  8. INERTNESS - epoxies accept a variety of fillers and coloring agents and do not affect container or encapsulated parts.

It is possible to formulate an epoxy resin system to meet specific requirements of almost any application. For the above reasons and more, epoxy resins are superior to other types of plastics in many important areas, performing a greater number of jobs better and with greater versatility than any other type of plastic.

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