October 15th, 2021
Preventative maintenance procedures for cleaning molds fall under two main categories: Offline and Online. Choosing the right mold cleaner is a decision that rests with your specific needs, the mold, time factors and adherence to varying procedures.
Offline: Mold Cleaners (for when the mold is cold on the bench)
Choose a cleaning formulation designed for the proper mold temperature. This will result in the best possible cleaning outcome for molds and save a significant amount of time for the maintenance technician.
Offline mold cleaners are primarily meant to dissolve resins, grease, oil, mold release and sometimes rust. These products do so at a very fast evaporation rate making them an ideal choice for offline mold cleaning. Solvents containing hydrocarbons and naphtha provide tough cleaning power. These agents easily dissolve greases and oils by merely flushing the mold with a heavy spray from top to bottom.
Slide Products suggests the use of a new shop rag saturated with a mold cleaner for mold releases and resin build-up that may require manual rubbing to remove the excess contaminants. We also recommend Slide’s pre-saturated Mold Cleaner Wipes. Here are a few advantages to using a pre-saturated cleaning wipe:
- Guaranteed sterile
- Lint free
- Ideal for precision cleaning
- Pre-saturated with the optimum amount of cleaning solvent included
- Easy-to-use and non-hazardous disposal
Online: Mold Cleaners (for when a mold is warm and in the press)
If you want to keep the mold in the press (online,) a cleaning product specifically formulated to work at higher temperatures is the right choice. Even at warmer temperatures the cleaning solvent will sit on the mold long enough to remove release, plate out or other contaminants before it evaporates.
Online mold cleaners are used to eradicate mold release buildup, plate out of resins and light rusting of the mold surface while it is still warm and in the press. Often molds get plate out, which is due to the adhesion of resins, or fire-retardant substances. Such debris must be removed from the mold surface in order to minimize potential part deformation. A resin-removing product can work well to break this down and to aid with the removal of the unwanted material from the mold.
A Word About Mold Cleaner Formulations In General
There are numerous selections of mold cleaners with varying characteristics. For example, many of the products have completely eliminated chlorinated solvents. (The EPA’s final assessment of the popular trichloroethylene (TCE) “characterizes the chemical as carcinogenic to humans...”). Though some manufacturers have developed formulations using alternative chlorinated solvents, these too may have some questionable health effects. While the variety of formulations can seem overwhelming, each cleaning preparation has its specific purpose and is made to solve cleaning challenges faced by molders. Some cleaners are water-based. Others meet requirements for processors of food packaging. Still others use a higher concentration of cleaning solvent for tough residues.
Talk to your supplier to simplify the choice process. Then get be sure to ask for free samples to test on each different application in your facility.
Mold Polish Cleaning Compounds (a finishing touch)
Slide suggests the use of a mold polish/cleaning compound. These products typically require manual application and removal. The usual mold polishing paste contains a combination of cleaning solvents and mild abrasives that are designed to aid with the removal of all contaminants from the mold or die surface. Mold cleaning polish serves as a natural lubricant and release, also resulting in a nice sheen or luster left on the mold surface.
When Cleaning Solvents Aren’t Enough
There may come a point where a mold needs a deeper, more extensive cleaning as part of a preventive maintenance program. There are many comprehensive cleaning options available that you may find are necessary to get a troublesome mold working at its optimum level.
For more information and a technical assistance for choosing and using the right mold cleaners for your application, contact Slide Products for assistance and free samples.