Epoxy provides optimal edge retention and the best possible mount quality. It can also be used for vacuum impregnation of fragile and porous samples. Our cold mounting epoxy system consists of one liquid epoxy resin and a series of liquid epoxy hardeners. This allows for epoxy mounts with different characteristics by just using a different epoxy hardener with the same epoxy resin. All components are transparent and the finished mounts are almost glasslike for easy visibility of the sample during preparation.
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Aka-Resin Liquid Epoxy is a clear liquid epoxy resin that has to be mixed with a hardener, either Aka-Cure Quick, Aka-Cure Slow or Aka-Cure Slow-2. Each hardener provides different advantages. Which epoxy hardener to choose depends on your requirements to the final mount.
Aka-Cure Slow and Aka-Cure Slow-2 are epoxy curing agents (epoxy hardeners) that provide the lowest possible shrinkage and thus great edge retention. They are suitable for vacuum impregnation and heat sensitive samples. Mixed with the epoxy resin, Aka-Resin Liquid Epoxy, they cure in 8 – 24 hours at 22 °C. Aka-Cure Slow-2 can be shipped as non-hazardous goods and is therefore often a more economic alternative.
Aka-Cure Quick is an epoxy curing agent providing very hard, transparent mounts and great edge retention with low shrinkage. It is suitable for vacuum impregnation of porous samples and cures in 30 minutes at 80 °C. The short curing time makes it ideal when very short preparation times are required. For epoxy mounting of very large samples, Aka-Cure Quick can be used with a room temperature curing overnight followed by a post cure at 80 °C. This low temperature curing results in large mounts with negligible shrinkage.
Does the amount of epoxy resin have an influence on the curing temperature?
Yes, with epoxy resins this is very much the case. The larger the amount of resin the higher the temperature can get. When a 40 or 50 mm/1 ½ or 2″ mounting cup is used, and the sample is quite small, cooling of the mount can be necessary to avoid excessive temperatures and high shrinkage.
How important is it to use the correct mixing ratio?
Epoxy resins cure in a so-called stoichiometric reaction. Here the precise amount of both components, hardener and resin is critical otherwise a small amount of one or the other compound will remain uncured. This often results in sticky samples. To avoid that, precise measuring by weight is recommended.
Can I mount large samples in epoxy resin?
Epoxy resins cure in an exothermic reaction. That means they create heat when curing. In general, the larger the amount of epoxy to be cured, the higher the temperature will get. This can result in excessive shrinkage, melting moulds and ultimately, destroyed samples. However, there are epoxy resins that cannot start this process on their own, they have to be heated to get started. Our Aka-Cure Slow is one of these products. When mixed with the Aka-Resin Liquid Epoxy it must be heated to 80 °C to start the curing process. When left at room temperature, the polymerisation process will start, but only very slowly and without increasing the temperature. After 24 hours the mount is semi-cured but too brittle for preparation. A post cure at 100 °C for about 1 hour will complete the curing process and result in a fully transparent mount without shrinkage.