Michael Münch, CEO and CTO & Wilhelm Münch, CEO and CFO
“Speed is the essence of war.”
The legendary Chinese military tactician Sun Tzu’s book, ‘The Art of War,’ written more than two thousand years ago, has been an inspiration for centuries. His strategies for victory on the battlefield, however, have now taken on a new meaning for a somewhat unlikely crowd: the business leaders of the 21st century.
It is difficult to overstate the importance of speed in business. With the pace at which the world is progressing, companies have to do whatever it takes to stay relevant. Especially in the manufacturing sector, where businesses are facing the challenges of digital disruption and the fierce competition it brings, speed is essential! Manufacturers are, therefore, consistently adopting innovative technologies to outdistance their competitors in the race to becoming the number one.
Despite the pursuit, over the past decades, the manufacturing industry has seen many market-leading businesses experience stagnation. Those that were able to rise like a phoenix demonstrated strong skills in implementing ‘out of the box’ solutions. This business reinvention has now become a mainstay for any organisation striving to flourish. In the tyre and rubber manufacturing space, one such notable exemplar of effective business reinvention is Germany-based family-run enterprise, Münch Chemie International, a leading manufacturer of release agents and processing aids.
Known worldwide as the ‘release agent specialist,’ Münch Chemie manufactures and delivers— among others—semi-permanent and permanent water-based release agents and bladder coatings. These solutions offer superior release performance for a large variety of industrial applications. Led by the Münch father and son, Wilhelm Münch and Michael Münch, the firm epitomises innovation, individuality, and exceptional service. Michael Münch, CEO and CTO of Münch Chemie, says, “We use our comprehensive technical expertise to offer optimal solutions to tyre manufacturers and provide them with the support they need to increase production efficiency and be able to produce perfect tyres.” Today, through an international sales network in more than 40 countries and licensed production facilities in Asia and South America, the firm ensures that customers all over the world are empowered with high-quality release solutions. The organisation takes pride in being able to precisely understand processing-related customer problems and requirements, and respond with superior solutions that not only provide maximum efficiency in production but are also cost-effective.
The Dawn of Münch Chemie
Münch Chemie’s journey began in 1948 as Münch Chemie Labor, a private firm that focused on research and product development activities for the German family-owned conglomerate, Freudenberg. A decade later, Münch Chemie Labor started developing and distributing cleaners, release agents, and wetting agents for an increasing number of clients in the polyurethane and rubber industry. In 1996, Münch Chemie became the first company worldwide to develop semi-permanent water-based release agents and solvent-based bladder coatings for the tyre and rubber industry. With the turn of the century, in 2002, the company drastically expanded its geographical market activity across all continents and was internationally recognised as Münch Chemie International GmbH.
Our silicone-free release agents contain active ingredients that enhance slip and flow characteristics and prove to be extremely efficient
However, amidst all these changes and developments in the last seven decades, one thing that has remained unaltered is Münch Chemie’s ‘one for all and all for you’ approach. The company always encourages a culture of open-mindedness, transparency, honesty, and innovativeness to determine what is right for its clients and, consequently, helps them reach their goals. Without hierarchies, the employees and executives work together, hand-in-hand to develop the chemical solutions of tomorrow in a creative, quick, and flexible manner. “Teamwork is our recipe for nimbleness, and it helps us deliver products to the market in the shortest period. We continuously analyse the landscape, assess its potentials, and develop products to meet almost any type of requirement,” says Michael. Moreover, in order to minimise risks and optimally protect the greatest asset—the health of the consumer—Münch Chemie places a strong focus on meticulous care of its products.
High Performance, Multi-Purpose Release Agents
Münch Chemie’s illustrious product line for tyre industry comprises semi-permanent and permanent release agents for press moulds, inside and outside tyre lubes, bladder coatings, lubricants for tyre fitting, and tyre paints. However, the industrial applications of Münch products in general range from elastomer processing, polyurethanes, and composites to metal processing in the pressure die-casting process as well as plastics and nonwovens processing. Talking specifically about Münch Chemie’s coatings, Michael articulates, “One of the biggest challenges in the industry is the implementation of new technologies and functionalities in the tyre, such as sensors, noise reduction, and sealing compounds.” These require adhesive-friendly, clean surfaces. However, manufactured tyres usually have silicone residues on the inside that often mess up the adhesion process and make it extremely difficult to attach sensors to the tyres. Münch Chemie resolves this issue by offering customers innovative permanent coatings for curing bladders. As a result, there is no need for any further lubricants on the inside of the uncured tyre.
Furthermore, depending on the individual customer preferences, the firm also provides a range of silicone-free inside tyre lubes that display high lubrication and release performance without affecting the surface quality of the tyre.
“In rubber processing, most customers seek universally-applicable release aid solutions that display high performance with regard to release and lubrication and prolonged touch-up frequencies,” informs Michael. For such customers, Münch Chemie offers a range of specially developed mould releases that are suitable for most rubber types and have a high slip effect. That being said, in order to guarantee optimal adhesion of the different materials, release agent transfer to the moulded parts has to be avoided. The products provided by Münch Chemie offer a stable release film with strong bonding to the mould surface, thereby preventing the undesired transfer. What truly sets Münch Chemie’s semi-permanent coatings apart is the silicone- and solvent-free mould release agents. These show the best release performance when used against parts made of perfluoroelastomer. Alongside, the release agents are also easy to handle and offer numerous benefits to customers.
Innovative and Contamination-Free Release Coatings
Recently, responding to the increasing demand for permanent release that do not impair the vent technology implemented in modern tyre press moulds, Münch Chemie included a water-based mould release coating to its portfolio. The new solution provides all types of tyre moulds, including those containing any vents, with a durable and temperature resistant permanent release finish that lasts longer. Additionally, the Münch Chemie team has developed a series of innovative water-based silicone-free release agents for the manufacturing of rubber-moulded parts such as O-ring seals. “Silicone is known to prevent paint adhesion, and interfere with the lacquer after the curing process. Our silicone-free release agents contain active ingredients that enhance slip and flow characteristics and prove to be extremely efficient. These products also have a fast drying time,” mentions Michael. Considering the shortage of silicone supply and the massive price increase, Michael believes this silicone-free product is the best alternative to high-cost silicone or silicone-based polymers that cause contamination and affect the production of tyres and rubber moulded parts.
Continuing the Streak of Success
While there are several factors that play a significant part in Münch Chemie’s success, the company’s continued commitment to R&D enables it to soar ahead of the competition. “Research is not only our motivation but also our philosophy: it is our intention to systematically find out how, and above all, why something is working,” affirms Michael. The firm always bears practical feasibility in mind when designing its solutions. The results gained within the scope of the team’s basic research activities enable Münch Chemie to quickly and cost-effectively adjust their products to the different production conditions.
"The products provided by Münch Chemie offer a stable release film with strong bonding to the mould surface, thereby preventing the undesired transfer"
With a relentless focus on quality, the organisation has helped the tyre and rubber industry move forward with its innovative solutions for all stages of tyre production, from the mixing room to extrusion and tyre construction, up to the curing process and final inspection. These efforts have translated into years of valuable experience and knowledge. Consequently, Münch Chemie is the recipient of numerous industry and technology nominations and awards. In 2011, recognising the capabilities of its innovative semi-permanent mould release agents, Münch Chemie was nominated for the Tyre Manufacturing Innovation of the Year award. In 2017, Münch Chemie was awarded the seal “Innovative through Research” from the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft for its unparalleled dedication to research and development. The firm also received the EcoVadis silver medal for its corporate social responsibility management system performance.
Treading ahead, Münch Chemie will continue to fulfill the market demands for highly efficient and sustainable release solutions. In light of this, the firm will update and enhance its product portfolio to align with the coming technological and regulatory changes in the rubber and tyre industry. Alongside, the company is also working on enhancing its licensed productions and service network across even more locations. There is no doubt that with its global presence—serving nearly every manufacturing industry and leading the release agent sector in innovation, research, and sustainability—Münch Chemie will maintain its position as the number one release agent specialist in the rubber and tyre landscape for several years.