Should You Make the Switch to Water-Based Mold Release?
Whether you’re responding to new regulations or have other reasons to consider a switch to water-based mold release agents, you probably have questions about how the change will impact your molding process.
The good news is that making the switch to a water-based release doesn’t have to be frustrating or overwhelming. In fact, water-based mold releases offer many benefits that could improve your production process in the long-run.
One of the biggest benefits of making the switch is the ability to reduce overall Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in your manufacturing facility. Water-based release technology is also less expensive to ship, less costly to store, and non-flammable, promoting better safety in your operation.
If you’re considering the switch to water-based releases for your production molds, read on for some quick, thought-provoking tips for plant managers and mold operators.
Differences Between Solvent-based and Water-based Releases
Before you decide if the switch to a water-based mold release agent is right for you, it’s essential to understand the differences between traditional, solvent-based releases and their water-based counterparts.
Here’s a quick run-down of the advantages and drawbacks of each mold release type.
Solvent-Based Release Agents
The primary component in solvent-based mold release agents is petroleum. Known throughout the industry as “traditional” mold release agents, solvent-based releases are manufactured using simple technology and are useful in a wide range of molding applications, from rubber to polyurethane.
Advantages of Solvent-Based Mold Releases
- Solvent-based release agents are easy to apply
- Products may cost less than water-based agents, though fluctuations in petroleum prices can impact the cost
- Very stable, making proper film formation easy
Drawbacks of Solvent-Based Mold Releases
- Contain VOCs that negatively affect the environment, as well as indoor air quality
- Some solvent-based products contain allergens that can impact workers
- Many products produce fumes and unpleasant odors, which require proper ventilation
- Most products are flammable, posing the risk of fire
Water-Based Release Agents
As you might expect, the primary component in water-based release agents is water. Since water-based release agents don’t use petroleum, there are no harsh chemical solvents that can pose environmental challenges or health risks. Water-based releases are useful in a wide range of applications and are preferred by many manufacturers.
Advantages of Water-Based Mold Releases
- Materials release easily from molds, saving time and minimizing damage to finished products
- Can be diluted, so agents can be shipped in concentrated form, making the product more efficient to ship and store
- Contain no VOCs or other chemicals to harm the environment
- Reduced health and safety risks to workers
Disadvantages of Water-Based Mold Releases
- Due to their complex composition, some water-based releases cure differently than solvent-based release agents, so additional time, temperature, and modifications to application processes may be required before molding
- Water-based release agents are less stable than solvent-based release agents and may require special storage consideration to protect from freezing
- Slower evaporation rates can make water-based release agents unsuitable for room-temperature applications
- Steam or other forms of water residue can impact curing or surface quality of manufactured parts
What You Need to Know to Make the Switch
While there are many benefits to making the switch to a water-based mold release, your molding operations will likely require some slight process changes.
Water-based releases require either time or heat to cure and achieve optimum performance. To transition from an ambient cure, solvent-based system to a semi-permanent, water-based mold release, you will likely need to add steps or equipment to your existing process, such as:
- Adding heat to a mold, which can be accomplished internally or by applying heat externally with an oven or autoclave. New molds or new ovens may not be an economically viable option for smaller molders, but the benefits of a water-based release can still be achieved with time.
- Adding time can be as simple as setting your mold to the side while the water carrier evaporates naturally or adding a fan to increase airflow and decrease downtime.
Ensure Proper Curing for Best Results
The key is allowing the release to cure correctly. A properly cured mold will often mean that you can achieve multiple releases without re-application. This saves both time and money.
If you are replacing a sacrificial, solvent-based release, you can probably switch to a water-based release without adding time or heat to the process.
Stoner Molding Solutions’ TraSys® water-based mold release products provide great release options for most applications, most notably in the rubber and rotational molding markets. The various grades available are ideal for:
- Releasing parts
- Keeping parting lines clean
- Removable pins and inserts
- Difficult molds in general
There are even high-heat options available for molds reaching above 600-degrees Fahrenheit, like our TraSys® 500 High Temperature Mold Release.
More Water-Based Release Agent Product Options from Stoner
Kantstik LM 35 is another great water-based release agent option. This product is specifically designed for effective performance with composite molds, saving time and reducing labor costs. Due to its unique composition, Stoner LM 35 concentrate is non-hazardous, non-flammable, and able to withstand temperatures exceeding 350° F (177°C). This water-based mold release has been found to be particularly effective in the manufacture of friction parts such as brake shoes.
As you can see, the transition from solvent-based mold releases to more environmentally friendly, water-based products has many advantages, from a safer work environment to reduced costs for shipping and storage. While you may encounter some challenges during the initial transition, we think the switch is well worth the benefits for many manufacturers. And Stoner Molding is here to support your transition—just give us a call!
Unlike many mold release brands, Stoner Molding Solutions formulates, manufactures, and distributes our own products. Check out our full line of mold releases, sealers, cleaners, rust preventatives, and lubricants. In stock products are ready to ship now!