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Mold Release Agents: Water-Base Versus Solvent-Base

Mold release agents conduct the critical task of preventing the bonding of materials to a mold. They also perform a host of ancillary functions during the molding process, such as reducing production time, facilitating cleanup and lengthening the lifespan of the mold. While there are many different mold release formulations for a wide range of applications, two of the most commonly used types for industrial applications include solvent-based and water-based mold release agents.
beakerWhile there are many different mold release formulations for a wide range of applications, two of the most commonly used types for industrial applications include solvent-based and water-based mold release agents.

Solvent-Based Mold Release Agents

Solvent-based mold release agents are chemical materials that generally entail petroleum refinement to work with materials such as metals and polymers. Regarded as the “traditional” mold release agent type, solvent-based products consist of a relatively simple technology that makes them well-suited for use in a wide range of applications, such as rubber and polyurethane.

Water-Based Mold Release Agents

As the term implies, water-based mold release agents rely on water as their primary component, as opposed to petroleum. Also compatible for use in a wide variety of applications, water-based agents are a top choice for concrete molds, as the physical makeup of concrete works better with water. Many manufacturers are making the transition from solvent to water-based agents, as the latter type contains no harsh chemical solvents that pose environmental or health risks.

Pros and Cons of Solvent-Based Mold Release Agents

Advantages and disadvantages of solvent-based mold release agents include:

  • Generally lower in cost, although changes in petroleum prices can cause the cost of release agents to fluctuate
  • Some solvent-based agents contain allergens, and many produce unpleasant odors
  • The simpler technology typically makes solvent-based agents easier to manufacture and apply
  • These agents facilitate film formation and easy adjustment of the evaporation rate
  • Many solvent-based agents contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that can negatively impact indoor air quality and possibly pose a fire risk

Pros and Cons of Water-Based Mold Release Agents

Advantages and disadvantages of water-based mold release agents include:

  • Water-based agents are more complex in composition, which makes them more difficult to manufacture
  • Less stable than solvent-based agents, which makes proper film formation more challenging
  • Enables a smoother release of the material from the mold, which saves time and minimizes the likelihood of damage
  • Their slower evaporation rates can make water-based mold release agents unsuited for use in room-temperature applications
  • Many of these agents can be diluted, enabling shipment in concentrated form
  • Trapped steam and other forms of water residue can negatively impact molding performance
  • The absence of VOCs and other chemicals makes water-based mold release agents friendlier to the environment and less of a health and safety risk than most solvent-based mold release agents

W.N. SHAW Can Meet All Your Mold Release Agent Needs

As a recognized global leader in the mold release industry, W.N. SHAW offers high-quality solvent- and water-based mold release agents for applications such as technical rubber, rotational molding, polyurethane products, and many others. We have the expertise to help you select the right mold release agent. Contact us for more information today.