When you work with liquid polyurethane and silicone mold rubber on a regular basis, you come to realize that spills can happen and that cured rubber can quickly accumulate in your workspace…on your floors…on your work benches…and on your tools. And then it can be quite difficult to clean up.
Here at Polytek®, we try to avoid accumulation by taking some proactive steps. These are a few of them:
NOTE: Some of our methods include the use of flammable solvents; always consult safety professionals and review product Safety Data Sheets before incorporating solvents into your process.
Wax Paper – Keeping Table Tops Clean
We keep our shop tables covered in wax paper (taped securely to the ends of the tables). Unlike silicone rubber, polyurethane rubbers are capable of adhering to a wide variety of materials (unsealed wooden tables, for instance) – they do not adhere to this wax paper, which is why we really like it.
Of course, this wax paper will have to be replaced every so often.
UHMW Polypropylene Workbench – Keeping Table Tops Clean
As opposed to wax paper, which must be replaced from time to time, Ultra High Molecular Weight (UHMW) polypropylene is usually a one-time investment. We use it as a table top for our work bench because polyurethane rubbers do not adhere to it and it has high chemical resistance.
Melamine-Laminated Particle Board – Keeping Table Tops Clean
We often use melamine-laminated particle board as a baseboard for mold making projects because cured rubber is fairly easy to remove from this material during clean-up.
Plastic Sheets – Keeping the Floor Clean
We use duct tape to position plastic sheets on our floors – specifically in areas where rubber is frequently mixed. These sheets need to be replaced from time to time.
Solvent Dispensing Cans – Keeping Tools Clean
We have solvent dispensing cans situated in a few areas in our workspace – we use solvents, like denatured alcohol, to clean rubber off of mixing tools (note: it is much easier to clean mixing tools immediately after mixing, as opposed to when the rubber has cured). These dispensing cans provide a convenient and effective way to clean tools.
Containers of Solvent – Keeping Tools Clean
When polyurethane rubber has cured on mixing tools, we soak them in denatured alcohol in a small pail (this pail is a high-density polyethylene material) with a hole in the lid (the hole is only large enough to accommodate the handles of the mixing tools).
Clear Tape on Scales – Keeping Equipment Clean
We use gram scales quite often in our shop and they see quite a bit of rubber. That is why we apply clear tape to the face of the scale – we simply remove it and replace it when too much rubber has accumulated.
Pol-Ease® 2300 Release Agent – Keeping Equipment Clean
To prevent polyurethane rubber from sealing containers or valves, we often apply Pol-Ease® 2300 Release Agent (a silicone-based release agent) or Vaseline® to the inside of packaging caps and oil gate valves (on drums of liquid rubber) when they are not being used.
Reusable Polyethylene Pails
Many of our products come packaged in high-density polyethylene (HDPE) “pails”. We also often use these pails as mixing containers.
One of the reasons we use these HDPE pails as mixing containers is because they can be reused (thereby eliminating waste). Once the excess mixed rubber has cured in the pail, it can be pulled out. If there is any remaining material after the cured rubber has been removed, we carefully clean it with denatured alcohol.