1 Part Epoxy vs. 2 Part Epoxy has become as commonplace as air guitar solos and weekend brunch plans. Walk into any hardware or craft store and you’ll likely find an intimidating wall of small tubes and bottles promising the strongest hold and longest-lasting bond. But hidden behind the marketing lingo is a simple division between 1-part and 2-part epoxy.
I know, about as exciting as the difference between forks and spoons. But when it comes to gluing things together, this difference is anything but boring.
Before you randomly grab a tube off the shelf, let’s break down the difference between 1 part vs 2 part epoxy so your next gluing adventure sticks together instead of falling apart. From curing time to shelf life, we’ll outline everything you need to know so you can pick the right epoxy and avoid a sticky situation.
What is Epoxy?
Epoxy refers to a class of adhesives that contain epoxide resin as the main ingredient. The epoxide groups in the resin can react with other chemicals to form crosslinked polymers that cure into a hard, rigid plastic material.
Epoxies come in 1-part and 2-part versions:
- 1-part epoxy has the resin and hardener pre-mixed together. It cures through the application of heat.
- 2-part epoxy consists of a resin part and a hardener part that must be mixed immediately before use. It cures at room temperature through a chemical reaction between the two parts.
Both offer strong adhesive bonds, but 2-part epoxy is generally stronger and more resistant to heat, chemicals, and moisture.
1 Part Epoxy vs. 2 Part Epoxy: What’s The Difference?
We are going to analyze their difference from 6 aspects: Mixing Requirements, Curing Process, Bond Strength, Chemical Resistance, Temperature Resistance, and Shelf Life.
The biggest difference between 1-part and 2-part epoxy is that 1 part comes pre-mixed, while 2 part requires mixing the resin and hardener before application.
2-part epoxy needs the resin and hardener combined in the proper ratio. Accurate measuring and thorough mixing are crucial to achieve full cure and bond strength.
Example Picture: Gorilla 2-Part Epoxy Glue
1-part epoxy cures through the application of heat, usually in an industrial oven. Typical heat cure conditions are 30-60 minutes at 350°F – 400°F.
2-part epoxy cures at room temperature without heat through a chemical reaction between the resin and hardener. Pot life is limited once mixed, so it must be applied quickly before it hardens in the container.
However, 1-part epoxy (e.g. BoatLife Sealant Lifecalk) can still produce high bond strengths approaching that of 2-part when heat cured at optimal temperatures.
Example Picture: BoatLife Sealant Lifecalk Vs. 3M Marine Adhesive 4200 Review
When cured properly, 2-part epoxy (e.g. JB Weld) forms stronger bonds than 1 part. The chemical crosslinking reaction creates a densely crosslinked polymer network not achievable through heat curing alone.
Example Picture: JB Weld Original from JB Weld Vs Gorilla Glue
When cured properly, 2-part epoxy forms stronger bonds than 1 part. The chemical crosslinking reaction creates a densely crosslinked polymer network not achievable through heat curing alone.
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However, 1-part epoxy can still produce high bond strengths approaching that of 2-part when heat cured at optimal temperatures.
2 part epoxy has better chemical resistance than 1 part. The full crosslinking provides better protection against degradation from solvents, oils, moisture, and corrosive chemicals.
1 part epoxy still offers moderate chemical resistance suitable for many applications. Adding fillers can enhance its resistance.
Similarly, 2-part epoxy has greater resistance to high temperatures. Fully cured epoxy can withstand temperatures exceeding 400°F. The cross-linked structure is more thermally stable.
1 part epoxy is generally limited to approximately 250°F for continuous use. The simpler molecular structure cannot endure high heat like 2 parts.
1-part epoxy has a practically unlimited shelf life at room temperature. The resin and hardener remain inert until heated to activate curing.
2-part epoxy has a relatively short shelf life of around 2 years. Even without mixing, the resin and hardener can slowly react over time in storage.
Best Uses for 1 Part vs 2 Part Epoxy
Here are the best uses of 1 Part vs 2 Part Epoxy
|1 Part Epoxy||2 Part Epoxy|
|Applications||Production assembly lines, low viscosity spray or thin bond line, epoxy tooling for short-run or prototype molding||Maximum bond strength and chemical resistance, room temperature applications without an oven, potting and encapsulating electronics, structural composites with fiber, repairs undergoing temperature cycling or vibration, bonding untreated plastics and rubber|
|Benefits||Easy to automate dispensing and heat curing, thermally stable substrates like metal, ceramic, glass||High bond strength, chemical resistance, no oven needed, encapsulation, composite parts, repairs, bonding untreated materials|
Modifying Epoxies with Fillers
One of the best aspects of epoxy is that fillers can be added to customize properties like strength, chemical resistance, heat resistance, and viscosity.
Common fillers include:
- Graphite or carbon fibers for improved strength
- Glass beads for lower density and shrinkage
- Silica or calcium carbonate for increased hardness
- Rubber particles for flexibility and impact resistance
Fillers are more often added to 2-part epoxy since it has a thicker viscosity to start with. Heavily filled 1-part epoxy may become too viscous to dispense easily. Fillers can comprise up to 50% by volume depending on particle size and desired properties.
Choosing Between 1 Part vs 2 Part Epoxy
For most applications, 2-part epoxy is preferable due to its superior strength and resistance once fully cured. However, 1 part epoxy is advantageous for production environments when mixing needs to be avoided.
Here are some general guidelines for selecting between the two:
- Use 1-part epoxy if the application process already requires heat curing. This allows the epoxy to cure without extra steps.
- Use 2-part epoxy if bonding untreated plastics or rubber. 1 part does not adhere well without specialized surface treatment.
- Use 2-part for critical structural bonds that undergo high stress, vibration, or shock loads.
- Use 1-part for high-volume production where a consistent automated process is needed.
- Use 2-part when bonding dissimilar materials with widely different coefficients of thermal expansion.
Within each type, there are also many formulations optimized for specific properties, open time, viscosity, temperature resistance, and industries. Consulting with epoxy manufacturers is recommended to match your particular needs.
With the right selection and application, both 1-part and 2-part epoxy can produce strong, long-lasting bonds in a wide range of materials. Understanding the trade-offs allows you to take advantage of epoxy’s versatility for your projects.