Mold releases and release agents are film-forming lubricating oils, solid lubricants, waxes, or fluids that prevent other materials from sticking or adhering to an underlying surface. Unlike permanent non-stick coatings, release agents typically require replenishment and are non-curing. Chemical companies are the main suppliers and manufacturers of mold releases and release agents; however, some mold manufacturers supply specialized or proprietary mold release and release agents that are designed for their products.
There are two basic types of mold releases and release agents: non-permanent and semi-permanent. Non-permanent products may require re-application after each use, usually in the form of a mold release spray. Semi-permanent mold releases and release agents are sensitive to moisture and other chemicals. A release agent’s material safety data sheet (MSDS) lists chemical properties and includes special instructions for disposal and/or handling. Suppliers of an intermediate mold release can provide additional information about how a semi-permanent mold release or release agent interacts with other chemicals.
Selecting mold releases and release agents requires an analysis of product chemistries. The most popular mold release agent is a mold release coating called Teflon, a registered trademark of DuPont. Teflon is based on polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a type of fluorinated thermoplastic with outstanding chemical resistance and excellent lubricity. Teflon mold release coatings can be baked into a mold or sprayed on in several layers. These coatings have a long life and rarely require re-application. Other mold release agents use different chemistries. For example, a rubber mold release agent is a water-based or wax-based reactive solution that is designed to cure on molds and provide an inert release film.
Selecting a mold release or mold release agent requires an analysis of mold materials and mold-making techniques. Mold releases and release agents can be used with molds that are made of plaster, rubber, plastic, stone, fiberglass, or various metallic elements and alloys. Common mold manufacturing techniques include transfer molding, compression molding, injection molding, liquid injection molding, proprietary bonding, CNC machining, heat sealing, and vacuum-forming.
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