If your shop runs high precision, close tolerance applications that require certain cleanliness standards, you know that pleasing customers by producing the cleanest possible parts for them is essential for success. Unclean parts not only reflect poorly on a business, but depending on the application, they can adversely affect secondary operations such as heat treating, plating, anodizing or powder coating. A little bit of dirt and oil is not worth losing a customer over, especially in the competitive conditions metalworking companies are facing today.
To give your parts a high level of cleanliness, it’s important to choose the most efficient parts cleaning method for your shop’s application. One method, aqueous parts cleaning, is an environmentally friendly, less toxic process (compared with its petroleum-based counterparts) that uses water-based solutions that do not contain hazardous volatile organic compounds and are non-flammable. They rely on heat, agitation and detergents to remove contaminants from parts instead of using solvents to dissolve dirt.
Aqueous cleaning solutions can last indefinitely if properly maintained. Using skimmers and filters to remove oils and solids during the process can extend the life of cleaning solutions. Aqueous cleaning requires the periodical addition of water and detergent because of loss through evaporation, filtration and by being carried out on parts. The process’s water base makes it easier to maintain in-house compared with solvent-based processes. When solvent-type systems become inundated with oil, the only solution is to change the sump. Because the system isn’t maintained on-site, fees for service and disposal can add up.
The aqueous system also allows the ability to add phosphate coatings to parts prior to powder coat. The phosphate coating promotes proper paint adhesion and helps to seal the surface of the metal prior to paint.
Read Basic Aqueous Cleaning Processes And Selection Criteria for information on how to choose the right vendor for an aqueous parts cleaning system, how to find the correct energy balance for an application using the three aqueous cleaning energies, and more. Other resources include A Primer On Parts Washing--Here's How To Get Your Parts Really Clean and How Clean Is Clean?.
As always, if you have any suggestions on metalworking topics I can summarize using this space in a future Inbox Insight, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always open to ideas that you, the reader, would like to know more about.