Chem-Trend, a global manufacturer of process chemical specialties with focus on release agent solutions for a variety of manufacturing industries, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month.
Chem-Trend provides products for a broad spectrum of industry segments, including the polyurethane, die casting, rubber and rotational molding, tire, and fast growing composite and thermoplastic industries. The company's mold release agents and specialized products are used in the production of many products; including die cast engine blocks, plastic bottles, rubber o-ring seals, tires, shoe soles, polyurethane automotive seat cushions, composite boat hulls and wind turbine blades to name just a few.
The breadth of its reach into these industries hadn't been foreseeable in the 1950s, when Chem-Trend's founder Peer Lorentzen began to experiment with the development of release agents for polyurethane foams, using the kitchen of his Howell, Michigan, home as a laboratory and production area.
Lorentzen, who had recently immigrated to the United States from Denmark, had observed the evolution of car seat cushion production within the automotive component industry, which was moving toward the use of molded polyurethane foam. The lack of specialized products necessitated the use of plain floor wax to separate the molded polyurethane cushions from the mold, an inefficient method at best that caused high scrap rates and downtime. However, Lorentzen's observations led to the development of new release agents that made polyurethane foam molding easier, more reliable and more cost efficient than before.
"What he learned during the process was one of Chem-Trend's founding principles: there is no perfect "instant" release agent, each production situation is different and therefore requires a release agent specific to the need," says Devanir Moraes, Chem-Trend President and CEO.
"Mr. Lorentzen continued to research, develop and refine formulas for individual customers based upon their raw material and production variations, as well as specific part finish and manufacturing process requirements," adds Moraes. "This is the path we are still following today, with a focus on becoming directly involved with customers, learning their processes and providing them with release agent solutions that provide significantly greater value than their cost."
Specialized release agents help reduce scrap rates, bring down production costs and generally improve process efficiency. Beyond that, they can also help improve production environments and conditions significantly. This is demonstrated impressively by the specific die casting products Lorentzen began developing shortly afterwards.
High pressure die casting operations in the 1950s and '60s were dangerous and dirty. Die casters commonly used solvent-based die lubricants, containing graphite, which frequently caught fire due to the high temperatures used in the process. The overspray created slippery, unsafe floors in the plants. The plants were thick with black smoke, causing worker safety and health hazards. Lorentzen began to research the issues of die lubrication and set about to formulate a viable water-based die lubricant, something that industry experts of the time said was not possible. He created a clean, cream-colored die lubricant, and shortly after, a water-based die lubricant. These product development efforts gave the die casters cleaner, safer working conditions, as well as cleaner, brighter castings.
Chem-Trend today still develops customized solutions for specific challenges caused by the variety of raw materials and process parameters found in the many different manufacturing environments. Such solutions include the development of release agents for new materials, and the ever-increasing challenge to improve process efficiency, as well as the necessity to meet environment, workplace and food safety requirements.
Chem-Trend has shown throughout its 50 year history that it is able to meet the challenges of the past, and will continue to apply the principles established by its founder in meeting the challenges ahead.
Chem-Trend – 50 Years of Release Innovation
Chem-Trend, celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2010, is a global organization with manufacturing operations in North and South America, Europe and Asia, sales offices in 17 countries and distributors in more than 50 countries that are supported by its headquarters in Michigan. Chem-Trend has a singular focus of formulating and manufacturing innovative process chemical specialties for use in the die casting, rotational molding, general rubber, polyurethane, tire, thermoplastic and composite industries. By becoming directly involved in the customer's process Chem-Trend applies its knowledge and development expertise to provide the customer with customized solutions to problems and to improve productivity. At the core of its business are industry-standard mold release agents, die lubricants, tire paints and purging compounds engineered to maximize productivity while delivering high-quality finished parts.