Release agents are a basic tool to enhance overall productivity in a company. They increase the amount of daily molding cycles by helping extraction of the molded parts. High performance mold release agents decrease downtimes significantly improving manufacturing efficiency. In this post you will find everything you need to know about release agents. Further on we point out the key factors to select the proper release agent regardless of the type of industrial application.
Release agents – conception
Release agents provide a physical and/or chemical barrier between the mold surface and the material being molded. The aim of release agents basically are:
- to prevent material from bonding to mold surfaces
- high ease release of the cured piece from the mold
We can find a large variety of release agents in the market. Depending on their composition we can identify: water-based, solvent-based, wax-based, silicone and silicone-free release agents. Based on tests carried out at our own laboratories with release agents available in the market we can conclude that high performance release agents (water-based) ensure more than twice as many demolding cycles as the classic mold release agents based on silicone or waxes.
If we focused on the industrial applications of the release agents, they play an important role in producing goods made of:
- polyester. Mainly used in the following industries: aviation, automotive, wind power, shipbuilding, etc.
- polyurethane: shoes soles, automotive components, etc. If you want to know more about our release agents for polyurethane, click here.
- rotational molding (rotomolding). If you want to know more about our release agents for rotomolding, click here.
- rubber. Mainly used in tyres production, power transmission belts, etc. If you want to know more about our release agents for rubber and tire manufacturing, click here.
- polymer composites and solid surface. If you want to know more about our release agents for composites and solid surface, click here.
Key factors in order to choose a high quality release agent
In the choice of a mold release agent we should take into account the following things:
range of working temperatures
Many release agents available in the market require a minimum activation temperature to start working. On the other hand, they stop working when reaching a certain temperature. These types of limitations usually generate:
- increase of downtimes
- decrease the amount of daily molding cycles
- need to control the application temperatures by the workers themselves. A bad application of the release agent out of the temperatures range required will cause:
- premature mold fouling
- higher scrap and defect rates
- difficulty of demolding
A wide range working temperatures release agent optimizes demolding cycles and enhance manufacturing efficiency.
low transfer (contamination) of the release agent to the molded part
Mold release agents should not leave any traces of dirt on the mold or the molded part. This is something of special importance in the case of high value products that will be painted or glued in later stages of the production process. No surface preparation required means less costs and increasing operational efficiencies.
Amount of molding cycles after each release agent application
It is always interesting to analyze the profitability of mold release agents from different producers. We highly recommend comparing how many pieces it is possible to mold after each application or for each liter of release agent. This will allow us to know the real cost of demolding by piece for each product. A high performance release agent should allow us multiple demolding after each application. This will increase considerably the amount of molding cycles that we can carry out throughout the day and therefore the daily production.
Low level of in-mold buildup or mold fouling
A good quality mold release agent should not foul or in-mold buildup quickly the mold. A longer mold service life between maintenance cycles will allow us to:
- save time and money in mold cleaning
- lengthen the shelf life of the mold
- improve overall productivity. Less downtimes
Cleaner, safer and healthier work environments
The last generation release agents are water based products. In contrast to the traditionally used release agents, they are products:
- free of dangerous substances
- cleaner and safer work environments
EU directives are increasingly restrictive with the use of products that emit volatile substances as is the case of solvent-based release agents. Water-based release agents have established themselves as the solution to this problem.
Probably the easiest way to know if a release agent is good quality one is to read the expiration term given by the producer. In the case that the release agent has a shelf life of at least one year, we have a chemical stability evidence that confirms the good quality of the product.
The importance of the mold
An adequate cleaning and maintenance of the mold will allow us to optimize our molding processes. The cleaner the mold is:
- the most profitability will get from our mold release agent
- the highest quality manufactured piece will obtain. A clean mold allows the molded part faithfully replicate the shape of the mold thus reducing scrap and defect rates.
Depending on the condition and dirt of the mold, we can choose between:
- surface cleaners that eliminate the small dirt that appears during daily production. They are characterized by the rubbing of the dirty surface of the mold. For more information about the treatment and maintenance of molds click here.
- depth cleaners. Cleaners to return a very dirty mold to its original state. As for example, cleaners based on solid particles applied with compressed air. For more information about this type of cleaners click here.
As far as possible, we always recommend, after cleaning the mold or before its first use, the use of a sealer. Mold sealers allow the closing of micropores and surface failures in the mold. In many cases, imperceptible to the human eye.
Conclusion on release agents
The release agents have a great impact on the optimization of the production process. A correct preparation and use of the mold considerably increases the overall productivity as well as the quality of the molded pieces. The quality release agents are characterized by very little dirtying the mold. Semi-permanent water-based release agents are undoubtedly the future of this industry due to its high performance and empowerment to create safe and healthy work environments.
Thanks to our close cooperation with CLAM DESARROLLO – ABABOL we can offer our clients tailor-made mold release agents suited to address the specific needs of our customers and the markets they serve. In case you have any specific needs related to molding, do not hesitate to contact us.