Chem-Trend, one of the global manufacturers of process chemical specialties with a focus on release agent solutions for a variety of manufacturing industries, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month in India.
Chem-Trend provides products for a broad spectrum of industry segments, including 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.
“Way back in 1992, Chem-Trend India started its journey through the sale of its mono-coat release agent to a rubber-to-metal bonded parts manufacturer. Over the last three decades, the company has expanded the breadth and depth of its team, technical acumen, and infrastructure as well as an extended channel partnership to support its ever-increasing customer base in India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh,” says Rajesh Phadke, chief executive officer, Chem-Trend India.
In 2004, Chem-Trend became a part of the Freudenberg Group, a German-based collection of companies with a commanding global presence. The manufacturing facility of its Freudenberg Chemical Specialities division in Mysore manufactures products for Chem-Trend in India. The site follows ISO 9001:2000 quality standards and has achieved ISO 14000 environmental certification. Over the next two years, additional investments are expected to expand capacity, laboratory, and product development facilities that will enable Chem-Trend to work closely with customers in developing new products with faster response time, leading to even further added value and support for customers to produce high-quality parts more efficiently.
We all know Chem-Trend is one of the leaders in the world for release agents, purging compounds, and other process chemical specialties. Let us take a small glimpse into the history of how the journey started.
It started very small. Peer Lorentzen, a chemical engineer, aided by his wife Birgit, a chemist herself, experimented with the development of release agents for polyurethane foam in the kitchen of their home. They saw a need, and with an entrepreneurial spirit, they expanded rapidly. After sending out many sample jars of their newly developed product, they moved production out of their home and into a rented garage in Howell, Michigan. Thus began the story of Chem-Trend. Today, with parent company Freudenberg, we are now truly a global presence, serving nearly every manufacturing industry and leading the release agent and purging compound industries in innovation, research, and in sustainability.
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 chief executive officer.
“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 afterward.
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, 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 30-year history in India, 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.