Solarez UV Resin FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SOLAREZ®?

SOLAREZ® repair putty is a mixture of high-strength, fiber reinforced polyester resin and an amazing solar-activated catalyst. There is no mixing required, just use it straight from the tube. SOLAREZ® quickly and durably repairs fiberglass, plastics, wood and metal in minutes.

Do I need to add fiberglass to a repair job?

No. Chop-strand fiberglass is evenly dispersed throughout the SOLAREZ® putty. This type of reinforcement provides better strength when repairing chips, dents and gouges because more fibers get into the ding and they align themselves in multiple directions. For large, shallow jobs (in excess of one square foot) we recommend the use of SOLAREZ® laminating resin in conjunction with fiberglass cloth. For patching good-sized holes where there is no backing, try our convenient SOLAREZ® pre-preg patch. It’s a Solarez- impregnated patch of fiberglass cloth for ultra-quick field repairs. This was used in “Operation Desert Storm”.

If SOLAREZ® only takes 45 seconds to gel, will I have to rush my repair job?

SOLAREZ® quickly hardens but only when exposed to direct sunlight. In the shade, you have all the time you need to put the goop where you want it and to remove excess bubbles.

Can the chemical reaction be stopped?

Unlike dangerous M.E.K.P. catalyst, whose reaction proceeds irreversibly and sometimes catastrophically forward, SOLAREZ® ‘ can be interrupted at any time. Simply remove it from sunlight. When it is replaced into sunlight again, the reaction will resume. You may take advantage of this feature for making clean trims when the resin has reached its “gel-stage”, roughly 45 seconds in good sunlight.

What if it's not a very sunny day?

Anything better than dense fog will work fine. Very weak, hazy sun may take as long as 30 minutes to cure SOLAREZ®.

Does heat or cold affect the SOLAREZ® reaction?

No. And this is a tremendous advantage over conventional M.E.K.P. catalyzed resins which barely even work at temperatures below 60°F and are dangerous over 85°F. On the other hand, SOLAREZ® works just as fast in scorching heat or freezing cold.

Is sunlight the only way to make SOLAREZ® harden?

If there is absolutely no sun available, or you need to do repairs indoors, a tanning lamp which uses the relatively safe “UV-A” bulbs will work quite effectively. Just be certain to exercise caution with the ultraviolet light – like sunlight, it is harmful to your eyes. Closely follow the lamp manufacturer’s precautions.

Does SOLAREZ® contain any harmful chemicals?

Just like other adhesives, resins and common reagents, SOLAREZ® contains chemicals which are not desirable for bodily contact or prolonged exposure. According to our directions, placing a piece of clear plastic over the repair site will keep your fingers clean, reduce fumes and provide a smoother, bubble-free (stronger) repair. Use SOLAREZ® with adequate ventilation and if you absolutely must handle the resin, exercise common sense, WEAR GLOVES.

Are there materials that SOLAREZ® will not repair?

Styrofoam will be dissolved by some formulations of SOLAREZ. It will be clearly labeled on the tube if the formula will or will not work for polystyrene. Polyethylene and Polypropylene are difficult surfaces to bond to and they may require a good sanding in order to improve mechanical bonding.  Another simple technique is called “corona treatment” and is quite easy to do: just quickly pass over the blue part of the flame of a butane lighter a few times to the area in need of repair. It will oxidize the surface and make it just a little more receptive to adhesion. Some metals may be tainted with an invisible layer of corrosion which too will impair adhesion. We do make resins that have additives especially engineered as “primers” for these difficult-to-bond surfaces. Lastly, make certain that all materials to be repaired are clean, dry and free of any waxes or grease.

What is the shelf-life of Solarez®?

When stored at room temperature (72°F), Solarez Epoxy has a shelf-life of about 5 years; Solarez Polyester, about 2 years, Solarez Microlite, about 1-1/2 years and Solarez Extreme, about 1 year. All products’ shelf-life decrease with increasing storage temperature and conversely with decreased storage temperature. Storing tubes in a closed car, where temperature may reach over 180°F may kill a tube in one day.

How do I increase the shelf-life of Solarez®?

Storing tubed products (putties) at lower temperatures will certainly help. Refrigeration is not necessary but certainly will prolong the life of the product. Liquid Solarez’ (eg pints, quarts) shelf-life can easily be increased by opening the lid monthly and allowing fresh air to circulate in the dead-space of the can. If the level of the liquid is high (little dead-space) the shelf-life will decrease. The reason is that the resin’s inhibitors need atmospheric oxygen to function. They “suffocate” over time if not given air. Storing in a bare steel can will dramatically shorten shelf-life too because metals act as a catalyst to curing. We generally sell Solarez in [inert] plastic containers or epoxy/phenolic-lined metal containers.

What is the difference between laminating, sanding and glossing resin?
[Pure] “Conventional” polyester resin was designed to cure tacky on the surface so that subsequent layers (laminates) can bond well –the reason why is because atmospheric oxygen inhibits the curing of polyester resin so the surface remains tacky. Paraffin wax can be added to the resin of a capping coat such as sanding resin in order to allow it to cure dry. As the resin cures, the wax rises to the surface and “suffocates” the resin. Glossing resin contains both wax and a thickening or no-sag agent (cabosil) added. This allows the resin to cure dry and in thicker coats without running off the edges.
This was the case with all [MEKP] conventionally-catalyzed resins. However with Solarez, the UV-curing agent is much stronger than MEKP catalyst and can cure bone-dry even without the addition of a suffocating wax. This is beneficial because wax can taint the bond of a resin to the substrate. If you want to cure Solarez tacky so that subsequent layers and be added, simply cure it for a shorter period of time (such as 1-1/2 minutes) and the surface will be tacky and ready for good bonding of a subsequent laminate. If you want the resin to cure bone-dry so that it sands easily without gumming sand pads, simply cure it completely (about 3 minutes) in good sunlight or artificial UV light source.
Can I pigment Solarez®?

Yes, to a degree. Most any color (except black) may be added in moderation. Reds should be avoided or used sparingly. The idea here is light transmission. If light cannot penetrate the resin, it cannot cure it. So, if you want a thick (>1/8”) pigmented section, add 1% MEKP catalyst to your batch, this will allow the surface to cure by UV reaction. The resin will exotherm (heat up) and cause the underlying resin to cure faster than normal by the MEKP catalyst component.

Can I thin Solarez®?

You may thin Solarez very simply by heating it in a paper cup for a few seconds in a microwave oven. (microwave ovens vary widely in strength so check your resin every 5 seconds to see that it doesn’t’t get too hot –hotter than drinkable coffee 130°F). This Solarez cannot have any MEKP catalyst in it!!! At this temperature, Solarez will be as thin as water and can instantly wet out fiberglass cloth. As soon as you pour out your resin onto a cool substrate, it will return to normal viscosity. If on the other hand, you want to add a thinning agent, you can add a little styrene monomer. It is not advised to add any more than 3% because adding styrene will soften the surface and cause premature yellowing. The adding of acetone or alcohol should be entirely avoided because these are not reactive diluents i.e. they do not become incorporated into the resin like styrene, they just boil out and cause pinholes.

What Solarez® product will work on Styrofoam?

Only Solarez EPOXY (blue tube) will work on Styrofoam. Solarez polyester contains styrene monomer and will melt the Styrofoam. Even EXTREME (vinyl ester epoxy) contains styrene and can not be used directly on Styrofoam. It is possible however, to put a thin sealer coating of Solarez epoxy onto the Styrofoam, cure it, and then subsequently coat with whichever resin you elect, such as the durable Solarez vinyl ester. This is an excellent way to get around the obstacle of expensive resins to coat Styrofoam.

What Solarez® product is best for PWC or Snowmobile or Snowboard?

Solarez EXTREME (vinyl ester) has the best adhesion and best strength of all Solarez products. It is the resin of choice for difficult-to-bond substrates such as sheet molding compound (SMC) used on personal watercraft or olefin-containing thermoplastics like on motorcycle fairings and snowmobiles.

What is best Solarez® product to repair polyethylene?

Polyethylene (PE) is the semi-firm, flexible plastic that is widely used on off-road vehicle fenders, boogie boards and other aquatic toys. There is also another polyethylene manufacturing process (roto-molding) used to make low-cost, super-tough aquatic sports equipment such as kayaks, surf/sailboards and others that are heavy, fair in performance but practically bullet-proof. These equipment rarely break or ding but when they do, require finesse in repair because not much of anything sticks to them. Solarez EXTREME can be used on roto-molded items but the surface needs to be sanded and flame-treated first: use the blue flame of a butane lighter to burn the plastic for a few seconds – this will oxidize the polyethylene and make it react better. To repair the super-flexible PE fenders, we recommend our product “Sponge-Rez” that does not cure by UV light but has amazing adhesion and cures incredibly tough and flexible.

What is "pot-life" and how do UV-cure resins rate?

When you use a conventional 2-part resin system, once the resin and catalyst are mixed, it starts the timer that says when the resin will cure. When the resin is sitting in a “pot” with high sides so that the resin is located in relatively one mass, it will harden quicker than if it was spilled out in a thin layer over a large area. The term “pot-life” refers to the amount of time the resin will remain liquid while in a “pot.” This is the usable, spreadable, or workable time of the resin.
Pot-lives range from a few short minutes to a good two hours in 2-part systems. The problem exists sometimes that the resin will cure whether you are ready for it to cure or not. Sometimes the reaction can be violent because as the resin cures, it gives off heat, further accelerating the adjacent resin molecules, giving off more heat and creating a cyclic feedback like reverb that can chain-react into flames. UV cure resins have a virtually “open” pot life. They simply will not cure at all…until they are exposed to UV-light (they are unaffected by room-light). This is a tremendous asset to the “workability” of the resin because it will stay liquid until the precise time that you tell it to cure by irradiating it with a UV light source. On the other hand when they do cure, they cure in seconds. Furthermore, the curing can even be stopped at any point simply by cutting off the UV light source, making the curing system 100% controlled by you. See diagram below:

Pot Life Solarez vs Standard Cure Resins
Will other lights work with Solarez products?

(most people are savvy about checking Amazon for “stronger/cheaper” torches and not aware that it’s also a question of frequency)
The best light is sunlight because it has multiple wavelengths in the UV-A region (315nm – 400nm). UV-B (280nm – 315nm) has less effect on Solarez because we designed it to work with longer wavelength UV-A. There are metal halide lamps that are very effective but they are hot and take time to warm up and emit ozone and are a bit on the dangerous side. Fluorescent [tanning] bulbs work very well but quality varies quite a bit from manufacturer to manufacturer. LED flashlight (torches) have become quite good lately. The best type called SMD (sheet mounted diode) type and produce much more light than the old “bulb” style. LED flashlights only put out ±5nm so if you order a 395 flashlight, you get 390nm – 400nm and that’s it. This is one reason why fluorescent lamps work so well over larger areas. The SMD LED chip that is the workhorse of the “SOLAREZ RESINATOR” is exceptionally good. It is 385nm and quite powerful and the reflector is a smooth type as opposed to a stipple type which concentrates energy better. Lastly, the Korean origin chip we use seems to be better than the Chinese origin chips we tested. It puts out more power in the 385nm region. Other lights do work to a certain degree; for example a 365nm chip will work but does not cure our resin to a perfect “tack free” finish. Likewise a 395nm lamp will work a bit better but still not as tack free as the “Resinator” @ 385nm. Just a a key fits a lock, wavelength specificity is pinnacle in UV -curing. We offer smaller flashlights that are also 385nm but are of lower wattage but they still do a good job of curing tack free. It appears as though wavelength is more critical than wattage.

Should I be using eye protection when using Solarez products?

(I recommend purchasing basic UV A&B/UV 400 safety glasses from Home Depot or on line. Inexpensive protection. Also: avoid staring at the light as you would also avoid staring at the sun – unless you are the president during a solar eclipse)
This is a matter of prudence and safety. Just as you would not stare at the sun – even for seconds, you would not want to repeatedly stare at the UV light emitted by a strong UV flashlight. Basic “UV-A & UV-B 400” safety glasses from HOME DEPOT and for that matter, good sunglasses are a prudent choice while working with UV-A light from any source.

How do I clean my hands or tools?

(Do not attempt to cure the resin on your skin… Duh!)
Acetone is an extremely effective solvent. For those of you who would like a non-flammable plant-based cleaner, we do have our “ZEROVOC Eco-Friendly Clean-up Solvent” Nail polish cleaning solutions do a fair job but some are flammable as well. Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) does not work very well, nor does mineral spirits or kerosene.

My Bone Dry has crystalized. Can that be fixed?

This product is an OUTSTANDING performer but it has one quark: it crystallizes with prolonged exposure to temperatures below 45°F. This probably will not occur at your location but it might occur in shipping along the way to your place. If this does occur, it will look like the resin has gone clumpy, like crystallized honey. The remedy, same as honey, heat the resin to about 125°F. A quick solution is: using the glass container it comes in, loosen the lid so it can breathe and place it in a microwave oven. Depending on your microwave, it might take one or two or three sessions of 10 seconds to bring it back to its clear state again. It might need to get to a temperature of 125°F – right about where the bottle feels a little too hot to hold. A more prudent approach would be to plop the bottle of the BONE DRY in a 6oz or so cup of steaming hot but not boiling hot water for about 5 minutes. This will melt the crystals and, the resin will be perfectly good again and it will stay like this for years. However, If the resin is exposed again to a temperature of under 45°F for a few hours, it will crystallize again. The same remedy will fix it. Interesting note: Tupelo honey does not crystallize.

Can you decrease or increase viscosity of individual Solarez products? If so how?

(the new medium viscosity will be the answer for many of these inquiries)
Viscosity can be adjusted quite a bit by heating to thin or cooling to thicken. Placing your tube or bottle in a cup of hot water is a prudent approach. Conversely, placing your tube or bottle in the refrigerator or freezer will thicken it significantly. You will NOT want to do this to your “ultra thin BONE DRY” because this resin will crystallize below 45°F. Do not place an aluminum tube in a microwave oven. As of this writing, There will be FOUR viscosities of Solarez Fly-Tie resins offered; “ULTRA THIN BONE DRY“, “THIN HARD“, “MEDIUM HARD” and “THICK HARD“. We also offer a “FLEX” resin that is midway between MEDIUM and THICK.

When curing, sometimes I see a puff of smoke. Is this OK?

Well, try to avoid this. It means you are curing too quickly and it happens almost solely with the Ultra Thin BONE DRY product. You can avoid this by first irradiating the resin with the flashlight placed about 12″ away and only irradiating for a brief second. Wait a few seconds and do this again a second and third time. Now you can irradiate at full speed ahead and even bring your flashlight down to within 6″. What you are doing is attenuating the cure and it is very effective at reducing the exotherm of the reaction. If you cure “full speed ahead” you risk yellowing the resin and reducing adhesion due to excess heat

Will Solarez stay clear and not turn yellow?

All Solarez Fly Tie resins are specially designed to have virtually no yellowing whatsoever. When the resin first cures, there will be a light yellow or even amber cast to it. Do not be alarmed as this will go away in about 24-48 hours through a process called “photo-bleaching”. Once 100% cured and “bleached” the resins are of the exact same chemical makeup as high-end automotive clear coat finishes and are hard, glossy, resilient and non-yellowing. “Epoxies” on the other hand are quite notorious for yellowing.

Are short bursts of the light better than continuous exposure for curing?

Yes, and see the previous two answers for reasoning.

Can I add color tints or glitter to Solarez for added impact?

You may add translucent “tints” or “dyes” and even opaque “pigments” to a certain degree but avoid coloring to the point of opacity where light cannot transmit through your resin. This is especially true with colors leaning to the reds (because reds absorb blues and violets) and all the more noticed if using black. If you really want to use a lot of color, you can apply the resin in thinner layers like 1/16″ at a time. You can also get more power in UV light penetration by using a magnifying glass – this works best with sunlight, it’s a cute trick. If you are building lures or have castings of deep parts, you might consider our Polyester “Dual-Cure” Casting Resin. This will cure by UV light and/or by the addition of MEKP catalyst. you can make a black bowling ball with this resin. Look for developments in this area in the Solarez Fly-Tie resins in the near future.

Can I build up and add additional layers of Solarez?

If you want to layer (laminate) resin and make ensuing layers adhere well to each other, that is entirely possible and can be designed to work even better if you cure the initial layer to approximately 90% of its cure. In other words, if you normally cure tack-free in 30 seconds, try irradiating your laminating layers with only 15-20 seconds each. Then on your final coat, your “capping coat” give an additional 25% cure time.

Can I improve on Solarez' "shelf-life"?

UV-Cure resins are packaged and are ready to rapidly polymerize in seconds at any time by UV light. They can cure slowly by heat or by contact with oxidizers or metals but they are kept in liquid state by “inhibitors” in the formula that rely on oxygen to make them effective. In order to prolong the shelf-life of Solarez resins, you can do so by storing them in a container with lots of “head space” that is, air space above the liquid level. In fact, if you were to suffocate the resin by filling up to the lid and then closing the lid, your resin might not even last a week at room temperature, less yet at elevated temperatures. A good amount of head space is about 10% the height of the container but if you fill your container to half-full and keep it at room temperature and open the lid from month-to-month and stir the resin slightly, you can make the product last just about indefinitely. The cans we use are epoxy-phenolic internally coated but if you use a bare metal can, this too will reduce shelf-life, as will keeping the resin in elevated temperatures like over 85°F. It is not necessary to refrigerate the resin but temperatures not lower than 40°F are good. Tubed products like our putties are different because they are thick and it’s difficult to get oxygen to them. Still we say up to 3 years shelf-life on our polyester ding repair putties are normal. The one product that just seems to be difficult to keep for more than a year is our vinyl ester epoxy putty “Solarez EXTREME“. it has a shelf life of a year and could be extended a bit by lower temperatures but 2 years is about max. The vinyl ester epoxy liquid resins can have their shelf-life greatly enhanced by allowing good head space and stirring monthly and keeping at room temperature.

How do I avoid "Fish Eye" and other surface aberrations in my gloss coat?

Surface prep is pinnacle. Sealing the substrate is important if the substrate is going to absorb resin at unequal rates. Woods are obviously very porous but some woods such as Cocobolo also exude oils that can seriously affect the adhesion of coatings Flat-sanding the substrate is done to level the substrate as your gloss coat will expose and amplify any surface imperfection. Once flat-sanded to a uniform smoothness of approximately 180-320 grit, you’ll want to seal the surface with a good grain sealer. Shellac has been used for centuries and is quite effective however it sometimes takes a few coats with drying time in between to do the job. Solarez has two versions of UV-cure sanding sealers that can fill large voids and do so in but a few minutes. Our Vinyl Ester Epoxy Sanding Sealer is effective at sealing even Cocobolo and helps to prime the surface of other low energy substrates like the black phenolic joint of a pool cue. Once the sealer coat is cured and smooth sanded, it is very important to remove all sanding dust by dry air and removal of oil or grease by acetone wipe followed by a tack cloth and finally followed by an anti-static tack cloth because sanding creates electrostatic charges that can repel resin into a characteristic “fish-eye”.

How do I remove air bubbles from a resin coating?

Solarez resins typically contain “air release” in them and should allow bubbles to pop at room temperatures. If you have a stubborn bubble, wait a few minutes and if it still doesn’t pop, you can gently blow hot air at it with a hair dryer. I have seen some people use a propane or MAP burner but that is a bit extreme. A hair dry is much safer. If you are working with thick resin or if it is exceptionally cold, you will find hot air to be helpful in popping bubbles.

Can Solarez be sprayed?

If you wanted to spray a Solarez coating, it would be best to choose the lowest viscosity resin, namely Ultra Thin Bone Dry, or one of our polyester resins. It would be more advantageous to brush on a Gloss resin as they are borderline viscous and they require a perfectly smooth “layout”. If you wanted to spray a polyester resin, you could dilute the resin with acetone (up to 5-10%) or MEK (methyl ethyl ketone, not MEKP) only as a vehicle – something to get it out of the gun, onto your substrate. Once it is on your substrate, you will need to allow the acetone to “gas-off”. If you don’t , it will create pin holes when your resin cures. At room temperature, it could take 15 minutes to gas off.

I'm having trouble getting my Solarez Epoxy to stick to the surface of the board

It is super important to surface prep the ding area AND to 1/2″ outside the perimeter of the ding area so that the resin can stick to the good part of the board. Sand the perimeter of the ding with 60 grit sandpaper until it begins to get “furry” – this is the fiberglass beginning to show. Use masking tape to mask off the perimeter of the ding beyond the 1/2″ region that you have sanded. Here is something that you may not normally notice: if your board has only one ding in it and you are repairing it on a hot day, that little hole can vent a lot of pressure as the board heats up, so “pre-heat” your board for a few minutes because if you put a thin layer of wet resin on the board and it is a dark colored board on a sunny day, the air inside the board can expand and blow your resin filling right out. If it is on the rail and you don’t accumulate much heat, it won’t matter that much. Use a piece of clear plastic wrap over the wet resin and stretch it tight so that it conforms to the contour of your board and any excess resin spilled over onto the masking tape. Cure it in the sun, a few seconds at a time, waiting a minute or so in between blasts so as not to accumulate heat. When the resin is WELL CURED, peel off the plastic in a most obtuse angle so as not to lift the resin upward.

What is the difference between Polyester Laminating, Sanding and Gloss resin?

Polyester resin is inhibited by atmospheric oxygen. “Surfacing agents” like wax are put into our Sanding Resin so that they float to the surface of the wet resin and suffocate the resin during curing. This makes the resin cure bone dry and allows sandpaper to grind off powder without clogging up the sandpaper pores. That surface scum is called a “blush”.

Laminating resin is unwaxed resin and is designed to cure with a little surface tack due to the oxygen interface but this is a good thing because it gives ensuing layers of resin a very reactive sticky surface to bond to. Typically, layer after layer (laminate) are laid down until finally your desired lamination schedule is complete, at which time, “Sanding resin” is applied so that you can sand without gumming up sandpaper. Some guys call this a “hot coat” and they will simply throw together some laminating resin with a couple % of paraffin wax melted into Styrene monomer – this stuff is called “Surfacing Agent”. (Wax won’t melt directly into laminating resin very well). Adding Surfacing Agent to Solarez is not a good idea as the Styrene is a “reactive diluent” and it throws off the photoinitiator ratio which makes your resin cure tacky, softer and with more yellowing.

A note about Sanding or Gloss coats: Do not put another layer of any resin directly on top of a Sanding or Gloss coat without a surface prep consisting of a good sanding, an acetone wipe followed by a wipe with a tack cloth, preferably an anti-static tack cloth. If you want a “deeper” look, achieve depth with your laminating resin and try to finish with ONE capping coat

How can I get my GLOSS resin to "layout" better?

First of all, make certain that your surface is free of any grease, wax or dust. Assuming you have just finished sanding your substrate until is is nothing short of perfect at 220 grit, now give your surface a good cleaning with acetone, followed by removal of dust by clean, dry compressed air, followed by a wipe with a tack cloth, preferably an anti-static wipe cloth. Sanding fiberglass creates thousands of volts of static electricity and a single dust particle can create a repulsion known as a “fish eye”. It is not advisable to spray on a gloss coat because all the resin that has atomized and fallen onto your substrate has now got to coalesce back to a smooth liquid and lose any air bubbles. It is far better to brush your gloss resin in long vertical strokes, followed by cross strokes, until you have reached your desired thickness. You should have taped-off any areas where you don’t want drips to fall or telegraph onto. Lastly, WAIT a good few minutes for your brush strokes to disappear which allows your very important surfacing agent to rise to the surface and create a blush. Gloss resin has much more than wax in its surfacing agent and is imperative to barcol hardness achieved in the cure. This is crucial to polishing and achieving a mirror finish.

Tips about finishing:

Block-sand to spread the downward pressure on the sandpaper over the largest surface area as possible – as opposed to sanding by hand. You’ll get ripples with finger pressure

Blow off your sandpaper frequently to avoid clogging

After 220 grit, use wet-dry sandpaper with water and a drop of soap in your water. Rinse often

After going through your grits (400, 600, 800, 1,000, 2,000, 3,000) commence with your compounds.

NEVER DWELL IN AN AREA. Keep your polisher moving. Don’t allow heat to accumulate.

Please use the contact form below if you have any other technical questions.

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