Polyester resin can be quite difficult and toxic to work with. These resins are used in artistic casting, marine use and in composite materials. They are made out of styrene-based products and can be flammable. When you are working with polyester resins, it is best to wear a respirator, since they throw off toxic fumes. Luckily, though, there are a number of natural and less toxic alternatives to resin.
The Rise of Bio-Composites
As the price of oil rises, oil-based composite products are becoming more expensive to produce. Composite producers are looking to plant materials to fill the void. Soybeans and corn are two crops that produce oil, and these plants are being investigated as potential natural alternatives to current resin products.
In the US, a company called Sustainable Composites has been researching plant-based resins. This UK company was founded in 2003. It creates composite products from natural alternatives to resin like hemp and castor oil. The company has developed a surfboard made out of these materials as part of the Eden Project. They currently sell a resin alternative called Eco-Comp UV-L Resin.
Adding Natural Materials to the Resin Mix
Plant-based resins are still challenging to come by. For the artist, there are a few alternatives. Plaster of Paris is a natural casting alternative, although it does not behave like a resin. Forton MG combines resin with other materials to create a product that contains fewer fumes than pure resin. This product is made out of plaster and metal powders such as bronze, copper and aluminium. It is used for casting. This product is made by Dyflex, a company from the Netherlands.