(Fiberglass Resin)


Polyester / Fiberglass Resin holds


Rigid Polyurethane climbing holds

Why should I buy climbing holds made with POLYURETHANE instead of POLYESTER RESIN?

Here are a couple reasons:

  • Of all Thermoset plastics, polyester resin is the cheapest and poorest quality. It was never designed for making climbing holds.

  • Three Ball Climbing uses a polyurethane that was designed specifically for making climbing holds

  • Polyester resin is extremely rigid, which makes for brittle climbing holds. If you've purchased this type of hold before you know how easy they can split when you are fastening them to your climbing wall. Merely tightening a bolt or driving in a screw can crack them. These holds may shatter or crack if dropped on the floor. The cracks may be imperceptible to the naked eye, but will be apparent if the hold breaks when you put your weight on it.

  • The polyurethane used by Three Ball Climbing is also rigid, but it can flex if it is fastened to the wall with extreme pressure. These holds are several times the strength of holds made with polyester resin! You can drop these holds on any floor all day long without a change in intergrity. If you tried to break them with a hammer, you would really see the difference! This means these holds will last much longer and are far less likely to break.

  • Polyester products are the most dangerous of the thermoset plastics.
  • Polyester resin, is very toxic if the volatile gases released during cure are inhaled. (I use the generic term polyester to refer to both isothalic and orthothalic polyester as well as the slightly different vinylester.) Breathing even relatively small amounts can cause permanent brain, kidney, and/or liver damage. Polyester resin can take up to 2 weeks before it is fully cured. This means That you or your children may be inhaling fumes during this time. If you can smell the holds, DON'T!

  • The Polyurethane used by Three Ball Climbing is NON-TOXIC, and is fully cured within 24 hours. You will not breathe fumes from a hold made by Three Ball Climbing.

  • If a company does not say what kind of plastic they use, it is probably because it is polyester resin. If you are not sure what the climbing holds are made of, you should ask before buying.

  • Companies who use polyurethane will usually state this fact. They know that those who are familiar with the difference in quality will always choose the polyurethane.

  • Three Ball Climbing knows about Polyester Resin because we used it when we started making climbing holds. It was great because it was so cheap. When we learned how brittle the holds were, and the harmful affects on the environment and our workers we stopped using it. (Except for a few, major climbing hold manufacturers no longer use polyester resin.) As a result of our change to Polyurethane our cost to make holds more than doubled, but we realized that no-one can afford the affects of polyester resin.

The following is additional information regarding
the harmful affects of polyester resin and its components.

Polyester resin is suspected of being a carcinogen, and in California the packaging containers must carry a warning label. Even if this product is eventually proven to be cancer-free, we know that the fumes of the resin are harmful to the linings of the lungs. A respirator / gas mask and ventilation is required.

Methyl ethyl ketone peroxide is used as the catalyst to harden the polyester resin. MEK (methyl ethyl ketone) is an extremely dangerous solvent. It is a very volatile liquid that quickly fills the air with toxic fumes that can cause permanent damage to the central nervous system. .

Styrene makes up a significant percentage of the polyester resin. According to the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): "An increased incidence of cancer has ben reported among workers exposed to styrene. In addition, styrene has been demonstrated to be carcinogenic in animals." OSHA proposed in December 1988 to reduce allowable exposure levels by one-half. The new limit for vapor exposure is 50 parts per million during an eight-hour day. 50 parts per million is an extremely small amount. In strong concentrations styrene vapors irritate eyes and mucous membranes. Upon contact with the skin, the skin might be irritated. Inhalation of styrene can have a narcotic effect. Inhalation may cause irritation to the upper respiratory tract and central nervous system. Symptoms: dizziness, drowsiness, loss of coordination, headaches, feeling weak, nausea and vomiting. In poorly ventilated areas or confined spaces, unconsciousness and asphyxiation may result.

The following is information from the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) regarding the polyester/fiberglass resin called "bondo"

    Section 3 - Hazards Identification
  • Primary Routes of Entry: Inhalation, skin contact, ingestion, eyes.
  • Exposure Effects Acute and Chronic:
  • Inhalation: Acute: Nasal and respiratory irritation, dizziness, weakness, fatigue, nausea, headache, possible unconsciousness, central nervous system depression.
  • Skin contact: Acute: Extraction of natural oils with resulting dry skin, irritation, redness and dermatitis. Can pass through the skin into the blood.
  • Eye contact: Acute: Irritation, redness, pain, blurred vision, sensation of seeing halos around lights and reversible damage.
  • Ingestion: Acute: Gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea; kidney damage, blood system damage.
  • Chronic: Repeated overexposure to these products may cause central nervous system damage, kidney damage, liver abnormalities, lung damage, cardiac abnormalities, reproductive organ damage, skin sensitization and dermatitis.
  • Other Health Effects: Intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents may be harmful or fatal. Reports have associated repeated and prolonged occupational overexposure to solvents with permanent brain and nervous system damage.

If your climbing holds are made of polyester resin, DO NOT THROW THEM AWAY. The properly cured solid may be disposed of in a chemical landfill. Otherwise dispose of by burning in an approved incinerator.

You may have to spend more initially to buy Polyurethane holds, but since they are non-toxic, and will last longer, in the end you will SPEND LESS, AND CLIMB MORE"!

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