Polyurethane is one of the most diverse plastics used to manufacture both small, flexible parts and hard plastic parts. This versatility makes it the perfect material for a wide variety of commercial and industrial molding applications, from automotive products to commercial insulation and consumer goods.
However, cured polyurethane is both sticky and aggressive, building up on mold surfaces over time. Buildup can also occur in overflow areas when liquid urethane is injected, and the mold is closed.
This buildup can cause defects in molded parts, resulting in increased scrap. Heavy buildup can also make it difficult to remove parts from the mold, resulting in damage to the part, the mold, or both.
In extreme cases, parts can become stuck inside the mold. Efforts to remove stuck parts can cause irreparable damage to the mold, resulting in lost production and expensive mold replacement.
If you struggle with cured polyurethane buildup in your molding operation, read on for our best tips to remove cured polyurethane and prevent heavy buildup in the future. These methods work best when working with aluminum, steel, or other metal molds and tooling.
If you require a solution to remove cured polyurethane from silicone, plastic, nylon, or vinyl molds, contact Stoner Molding Solutions for recommendations from our experts.
Many molding operations find it helpful to clear light buildup from molds after a certain number of molding cycles. The right number of cycles for your operation will depend on the type of products you manufacture and the details of your molding process.
Using a light cleaning solvent like Stoner’s B510 Light Duty Cleaner softens and loosens light buildup of cured polyurethane in just a few minutes. Simply apply the solvent with a brush, wait a few minutes, and wipe down the mold with a clean cloth.
After you’ve cleaned the mold, it may be necessary to reapply your mold release agent to prevent parts from sticking.
Heavy buildup often requires a more aggressive cleaning method to completely remove cured polyurethane. There are two ways to remove heavy buildup, and they depend on whether you typically use heat in your molding process or produce parts at room temperature.
In either case, we recommend applying Stoner’s B505 PolyOff Heavy Duty Polyurethane Remover following the steps below.
Note - Removing cured polyurethane from the mold will also remove your release agent in most cases. Be sure to reapply your release agent before putting the mold back into production.
Operations that produce parts at room temperature can schedule mold cleaning for the end of the day (or during any scheduled downtime).
Molds that are large, heavy, or otherwise difficult to move can be cleaned using a thicker solvent with the ability to cling to vertical surfaces.
Stoner’s B506 Gel is specifically formulated to cling to vertical mold surfaces, allowing you to soak molds overnight without moving them. Simply follow the procedures above, substituting B506 Gel for B505 PolyOff.
Mold manufacturers that rely on pressure chambers to expel all the air from parts can end up with polyurethane spillover on work areas and tools. Stoner’s B510 Light Duty cleaner is perfect to handle cured polyurethane on metal work surface areas. Simply apply, soak, and wipe down the area.
Uncured polyurethane can also be quickly wiped from work surfaces with the same light duty solvent.
Polyurethane buildup can also create problems with injection equipment. Stoner’s B505 PolyOff can be used to soak metal injection equipment parts to remove cross-linked urethane.
While the methods and mold cleaners mentioned above will help you effectively remove cured polyurethane from your molds to prevent defective parts and de-molding issues, if you find you are doing frequent deep cleaning, it may be time to reevaluate your molding process.
Using the right mold release agent is a fundamental step that can prevent buildup, sticking parts, and cracking, while increasing uptime and productivity.
At Stoner Molding Solutions, we offer a full suite of mold release agents for Cast Elastomer, Flexible Foam, and Rigid Foam processes, with formulations designed to optimize your production process and improve your bottom line. Plus, our team is happy to help you find the right solution for your molding operation.
Stoner Molding’s industry-leading experts, chemists, and engineers are here to help you find the right combination of mold releases, sealers, cleaners, rust preventatives, and lubricants to maximize your production and profits. We’ve formulated, distributed, and manufactured our own products for more than 75 years and offer world-class service and same-day shipping. Contact us for a free product sample today.