Resins are naturally occurring compounds most commonly produced by trees. These highly adhesive, viscous liquids have been used for many thousands of years as sealants, solvents and even as jewelry. In the past century, technological advances have led to the creation of synthetic resins such as epoxies. Epoxies have many of the same properties as natural resins, but are more predictable in their hardening process and are more durable and less expensive.
A resin is a type of chemical compound which is characterized by its ability to transform from a viscous liquid to a hardened substance. Resins are found in nature; the most familiar are produced mostly by pine and fir trees. According to britannica.com, the trees exude the resin as a viscous liquid in response to injuries to their bark. With exposure to the air, the resin's more volatile components evaporate, hardening the sap and covering the injury. Natural resins can be grouped into oil-soluble and spirit-soluble types.
Epoxies are generally derived from synthesized resins and use a chemical hardening agent to create an extremely hard, durable and adhesive substance. According to 3dchem.com, most epoxies are made from a combination of epichlorohydrin and bisphenol-A. The resin is mixed with a hardening agent which reacts with the resin, causing it to polymerize, or form long chains of molecules.
Natural resins have had a wide variety of uses throughout history, ranging from sealing the cracks in wooden boats with pine pitch, which provides a barrier against water, to jewelry made from amber, the hardest natural resin, which is generally a translucent golden color. Modern epoxies were first synthesized in 1936 by Dr. Pierre Castan and Dr. S.O. Greenlee, according to 3dchem.com. Since then, epoxies have rapidly become a common substance which most people will encounter on a daily basis.
Different resins are used for different applications, depending on their properties, according to britannica.com. One of the most practical uses of natural resins is in varnishes or lacquers which create a hard, smooth, impermeable surface. Other types of resins are used in solvents such as turpentine.
Natural resin varnish is found along wooden banisters, in paint thinner with turpentine and on pine trees. Modern epoxies have an extremely wide variety of uses. Fiberglass, such as is used in boat construction, is a series of woven fibers held together with an epoxy. Epoxies are also used in carbon fiber products like golf club shafts or fishing rods. The average household user will generally encounter epoxies in a package with two tubes, the resin and hardener. The household applications range from fixing broken coffee mugs to repairing plumbing.
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