Environmentally-benign Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) Coatings for Mold ReleaseEPA Contract Number: EPD13048
Title: Environmentally-benign Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) Coatings for Mold Release
Investigators: Stewart, Karen L
Small Business: GVD Corporation
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Project Period: July 29, 2013 through July 28, 2015
Project Amount: $298,009
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (2013) Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Innovation in Manufacturing
GVD proposes to develop high performance, volatile organic compound (VOC)-free and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)-free, non-stick mold release coatings based on its novel polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) fluoropolymer technology. Most commercial mold release agents make use of organic solvents that vaporize during drying, creating a significant air quality impact. Even water-based formulations often require the use of fluorinated surfactant additives to stay suspended in the liquid. These surfactants, such as (PFOA), have been shown to be exceptionally pervasive in the environment, and are biopersistent and carcinogenic. Drying and curing processes of wet applied releases also are energy intensive, requiring consumption of fossil fuels and the attendant emission of greenhouse gases. The environmental problems associated with these mold release agents and tighter regulations imposed on their use are generating urgency among manufacturers to identify green alternative release agents with the same level of performance. GVD's green PTFE coatings offer such an alternative. PTFE offers an unparalleled combination of low surface energy (anti-stick), chemical resistance and thermal stability. GVD produces thin, conformal, environmentally-benign PTFE coatings at low temperature via the innovative initiated Chemical Vapor Deposition (iCVD) process. In this solvent-free process, GVD creates the pure PTFE fluoropolymer from reactive precursor vapors and deposits the PTFE as a uniform coating at the same time. Using iCVD, GVD can optimize PTFEs surface energy, adhesion and durability during deposition. GVD's iCVD deposition process has zero hazardous emissions. There are a wide variety of markets and applications for GVD's mold release coating, including seals and gaskets, foam, automotive parts, composite part molding, and medical products. With improved adhesion and durability, GVD will be able to access more of these applications.
In Phase I, GVD achieved the goals of improved adhesion and durability of its PTFE coatings for mold release applications. Bench-scale testing showed that changes to the PTFE coating recipe improved coating adhesion with even greater improvement upon addition of an adhesion promoter. Initial molding tests with uncured molding materials, a challenging condition, demonstrated that the advances made during Phase 1 resulted in significant improvements to mold release durability. GVD's coatings also outperformed wet-applied mold release coatings in the molding test. In this Phase II proposal, GVD will test these formulations at the industrial scale with global leaders in tire and automotive manufacturing. At the end of this work, GVD will deliver a widely applicable, commercial solution to the issue of toxic, polluting, and low-performance mold release agents.