What type of release agent is right for you?

WATER-BASED VS.
SOLVENT-BASED

Often the first question that needs to be answered when choosing a release agent is whether your process requires a solvent-based or water-based formula. Aside from process requirements, other factors such as plant safety goals, operator preferences, environmental impact, and industry stigmas may affect your choice of mold release medium.

Let’s begin with some common industry notions and stigmas regarding water-based products. Many operators and engineers have preconceived notions that water-based products are less effective than their solvent-based forebears. While this may have been true in the early days of water-based formulas, the mold release coating industry has evolved to offer many water-based coatings that are as effective if not more effective than solvent-based coatings. Water-based coatings also solve many of the safety and environmental issues associated with solvent-based coatings.

Solvents are generally hazardous materials. Working with solvents requires extra safety and protective equipment and molders must incur the increased shipping costs of those hazardous materials. On the other hand, solvent-based products are extremely effective and very easy to apply. The advantages of solvent-based products lead many users to accept a certain amount of inherent risk in their use, but an increasing number of environmentally conscious manufacturers are starting to replace solvents with water-based formulas to reduce plant emissions and make a safer workspace. Now would be a good time to address the industry notions and stigmas revolving around solvent-based products.

Many molders discount solvent-based formulas before they even consider the numerous advantages they offer, including faster drying times and unparalleled wetting characteristics, especially on ambient and low temperature surfaces. Process engineers and operators may also rule out solvent-based formulas because of their foul odor. Don’t blame the solvent, blame your safety equipment, or lack thereof… With proper ventilation and safety equipment/procedures, many of the perceived drawbacks of solvent-based products can be overcome and molders can enjoy the many benefits of these coatings. The environmental impact of solvent-based products and emissions, however, is an unfortunate reality—enter today’s advancements in water-based release technology.

Water-based formulas generally do not pose safety or environmental concerns when used appropriately and generally do not incur hazmat shipping costs. Advancements in water-based technology have made these relatively new coatings very effective releasing agents, however, many water-based coatings will require (at times) a lengthy curing step to achieve multiple releases per application, but water-based formulas can always pull their trump card, dilution. It is hard to argue with the cost savings and relative ease of diluting a water-based formula inhouse. While some manufacturers are willing to dilute solvent-based products inhouse, this option is cumbersome and typically reserved for import/export conditions that impose shipping constraints on solvent freight. Dilutions also give process engineers and operators more control over their mold release agents and the opportunity to dilute one concentrate to suit multiple applications. Click here to read more about diluting mold release agents. McLube has worked tirelessly over the last three decades to develop water-based release agents with shorter cure times and improved wetting characteristics to allow manufacturers around the world to reduce solvent use.

McLube offers over 300 specialty water- and solvent-based formulas catered to specific materials, processes, and application requirements as well as custom formulations for unique and challenging applications. Our line of solvent-based release coatings also includes low-VOC and VOC-free solvent blends as well as non-flammable, solvent-based release options. Let go of your preconceived notions regarding water- and solvent-based formulas and allow McLube’s experienced Technical Representatives to help you select the ideal coating for your application.

CONVENTIONAL/SACRIFICIAL

Conventional mold release agents, sometimes referred to as sacrificial coatings, are ideal for applications that do not require long-term release characteristics. Conventional coatings generally transfer to the molded part and as a result are associated with very little buildup on the tooling surface when compared to semi-permanent coatings. While transfer mitigates buildup, excess release on the surface of molded parts will impede certain finishing steps like painting or gluing. Some manufacturers introduce a cleaning step to remove excess release from the part prior to post-finishing. Manufacturers can limit transfer by applying just enough release to pull the part. McLube Technical Representatives can help you determine the ideal application methods and procedures for your process to limit excess transfer and expedite or eliminate cleaning steps.

Conventional mold release agents are also ideal for small sprue openings, cavities, parting lines, and deep drawls where semi-permanent coatings may not be effective. While sacrificial coatings are not designed to provide multiple releases per application, some operations may be able to achieve a few extra pulls before reapplication is necessary.

McLube’s sacrificial release agents are designed for frequent application to the most difficult to release, difficult to coat areas of molds, presses, and other equipment. We also offer custom formulations with tailored slip coefficients to ensure effortless release. McLube sacrificial release technology can also be used to extend the life of permanent, in-mold coatings like nickel, Teflon®, and anodized surfaces. Click below for more information about McLube’s sacrificial release coatings or continue reading for more about the pros and cons of semi-permanent release agents.

SEMI-PERMANENT

Semi-permanent release agents are designed to adhere to the mold or tooling surface and resist transfer to the molded part. Reduced transfer means the coating remains on the tooling surface longer to provide multiple releases per application. Multiple releases per application saves valuable production time for some processes and allows for more parts to be made per shift. Non-transferring semi-permanent coatings are also ideal for operations where conventional coatings will interfere with post-finishing steps. The drawbacks of semi-permanent coatings may include in-mold buildup over time as well as reduced effectiveness within complex geometries. Semi-permanent coatings may also require a conditioning and/or curing step before they are able to provide multiple releases per application.

McLube offers a full line of semi-permanent release agents for a variety of materials, including natural and synthetic rubbers, plastics, polyurethanes, and composite materials. Our semi-permanent coatings are tailored to the unique requirements of a particular material, process, or application method to achieve truly superior results. If you are considering a change of release, McLube Technical Representatives can help you determine if a semi-permanent coating will benefit your process. Our experienced Technical Representatives and Formulation Chemists can help you select the ideal semi-permanent coating for your process as well as provide tailored application instructions to maximize releases per coating. Click below for more information about McLube’s semi-permanent mold release coatings.

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