We get a lot of people asking how UV resin works, looking to us for answers, so they can better understand the process. Now, my expertise is physics, not chemistry, but I'm going to try to explain this as best as I can, using some oversimplification. While this explanation is incomplete, this is sufficient because we aren't teaching chemistry, we just want you to understand the process. And maybe have fun doing it.
It helps to think of UV resin as a type of epoxy. Epoxy has two parts, and once you mix them together, they form a single product that is hard as a rock after a time. With UV resin, we are using two ingredients that refuse to mix, even though they are in the same container. Like the image below, they share the same space, but they refuse to get together. The individual molecules might be close to each other, sharing the same bed, but they aren't actually touching. It looks like it is a single product, but it isn't. It's two, sharing the same basic space, without touching. They need some outside help to get together.
The fact that these two simply will not bond actually works to your advantage. This means that the clock isn't ticking the moment you open the can of UV resin. You have time to apply it, let it level out, fix any flaws, and get it just right before it turns hard. With traditional finishes, the clock is ticking and it starts to set up the moment you expose it to air, so you have a limited window to apply and level. The extra window of time with UV resin removes much of the pressure, because time is on your side. However, you DO want that resin to harden eventually, so you need to get those two to mix; to bond. This is where UV comes in, to marry the two ingredients together.
The right frequency of UV (often at 365nm) will make these two want to bond, make them want to "marry up" and become one. UV is a catalyst, it causes things to react. In the case of a tanning bed, it makes melanin in your skin react with oxygen and turn brown. In the case of UV resin, it makes the different ingredients combine to form ONE new product, which quickly hardens to a useable finish. As a catalyst, it breaks the repulsion between the two, and they naturally want to bond. They just needed a little push.
Hopefully this fun analogy will help you better understand the basics of how UV resin works. It isn't necessary to understand the complex chemical processes, you just need to understand the basic premise of how it works, to make it work for you.