Ecoclean Inc. News Blog
Thank you for your interest in our company and products. In our Ecoclean Inc. News Blog you will find latest information about the company, the people behind the scenes and of course all about our innovative systems and solutions for industrial parts cleaning and surface processing.
High-Pressure Deburring Systems
Water Based Deburring Solutions
What is a high-pressure water deburring?
High-pressure washing and deburring technologies rely on conditioned water and applies pressure to force the fluid through a small nozzle creating high pressure streams to deburr parts. If needed, the streams can be concentrated on very specific areas that need deburring and often multiple streams are configured to target multiple features.
Modern systems are flexible CNC or robotic cells that allow for the automatic changing of deburring tools to fit the specific application. A high pressure turret such as the one shown here can accommodate up to six different tools to address different part features.
For high pressure deburring and/or cleaning, usually pressures of approximately 700 bar are used for removing feather burrs from steel and approximately 300 bar for aluminum, although this can vary depending upon the system and application. In addtition to the deburring process, low-pressure cleaning processes can be integrated together in the same system for removing emlusion, oil, and chips.
When to use automated high-pressure water deburring
Industry expectations are increasing demand for clean, ready to use, burr free parts. High-pressure water deburring is an excellent application to employ when:
- Quality control, accuracy and consistency in parts deburring is required by the customer or industry
- The risk of a burr breaking loose during operation can damage the end product or system
- Parts with inaccessible areas, such as cross drilled intersecting holes need deburring
- Parts with specific or multiple areas have deburring requirements
- Machining of very small or large parts create burrs that need removal
- Your production has a high quantity of parts that need deburring
Well-suited applications for automated high-pressure deburring systems range across many different industries and types of machined products. Automotive engine and transmission parts such as crankshafts, gears, housings, and cylinder blocks, as well as fuel injection, braking, and steering components. Engine, turbine, and hydraulic components for aircraft and military are also common applications for high-pressure deburring.
Automated high-pressure deburring or manual deburring?
One advantage of using an automated high-pressure deburring system over a traditional cleaning method, such as manual deburring is improved consistency and superior quality of deburring results. Another advantage of automated high-pressure deburring is the ability to direct a jet of conditioned water directly into blind holes and complex part geometries for very efficient and reliable deburring in areas that would be otherwise inaccessible with manual deburring. Other benefits of automated deburring systems are the reduction of costs related to labor intensive solutions and the ability to easily combine deburring and cleaning into a single operation. The role of the aqueous parts washer often does double duty in this manner, and modern systems such as the EcoCvelox are modularized and incorporate CNC technology for precise and accurate results.
If your application requires high standards in part quality, includes a large volume of parts that need accurate and consistent processing or have ongoing challenges in parts deburring, you should consider water based high-pressure deburring systems as a solution. High pressure water deburring systems provide a straightforward and cost-effective method to remove burrs in a controlled, automated environment producing uniform results and clean parts, meeting and exceeding standards set for production.
What is deburring and why is it necessary?
What is a burr?
Burr formation is a significant issue for operations that machine parts. Burrs are created when there is material left on the part after milling, drilling, grinding, engraving or other process has been completed. These processes leave raised edges or small pieces of material attached to the part that need to be removed before the part can be utilized.
Manufacturers of intricate machined parts and components of complex mechanical systems such as hydraulic manifolds, injections systems, and turbine wheels with shafts are prime examples of applications that have a need for removing burrs. If not properly removed, leftover burrs create a serious risk for a breakdown in the function the part. Another example of parts where deburring is essential are parts that are coated after machining. Plating or coating over these defects creates early corrosion of the material and misalignments in assembly.
It is important and often an industry requirement that the parts are properly cleaned and deburred before use. Burrs are a concern in performance, safety, appearance and ultimately cost in parts machining.
What is Deburring?
Deburring is a process designed specifically to remove imperfections and ensure a specific edge or surface quality. A part that is burr free is a part that has no visible defects or material on the edges or surfaces that would cause problems in the parts application.
As technology advances, industries are seeing an increased demand for more complex designs in parts. While it is possible to reduce the number of burrs created during the manufacturing process (by selecting proper materials, shape of part, tools and process steps), even the latest tools used in manufacturing can still create burrs, thus it is easy to see the necessity for burr removal technology.
These factors and many others call for total control over the removal of burr formations. The amount of deburring required differs among customers, quality control departments and their industry specifications. There are many different technologies used for deburring. Many manufacturers are deburring with manual deburring tools and this process may be very cost-effective for small quantities of parts. But, the process of manual deburring is very time-intensive and therefore not an optimal method for handling large quantities of parts. A high-pressure water deburring system is one of the most common methods of deburring, as it can provide a consistent and accurate solution for deburring parts. Other methods of deburring are vibration, electromechanical, brushing and tumbling.
Technological advancements have not only spurred the evolution of more complex parts and components, but the systems and machines that manufacture them are becoming more sophisticated as well. Modern Automatic Deburring Systems have become quite evolved and efficient. For example, the EcoCvelox not only deburrs complex parts, but it also cleans and dries the parts in a modular machine configuration using CNC technology. More information on this technology can be found in our article, The Multitasking EcoCvelox. In upcoming articles, we’ll go into further depth on the topic of high-pressure technology for deburring and cleaning.
Solvent-Based Parts Cleaning
9 Things to Consider when Selecting Vapor Degreasing as your Parts Washing Process
In our previous blog article, we have provided an Overview of Solvent-Based Industrial Parts Cleaning. In this article, we’ll go into more depth on the topic of vapor degreasing by covering some points you should think about if vapor degreasing is a consideration for your parts cleaning process.
1. If you have a large quantity of contaminated parts that need to be cleaned: Vapor degreasing systems will deliver consistently good cleaning results, in a relatively short cycle. Because the solvent is not mixed with any other chemical, they do not require constant monitoring of concentration or addition of detergents. Batch sizes can be adapted to the required throughput and automatic loading can buffer parts to be washed, thus freeing up operator to perform other tasks.
2. If your cleaning task needs to meet industry requirements or standards for high level of cleaning and quality assurance: Vapor degreasing meets many industry standards for part cleanliness, such as aerospace components that are required to conform to military specifications and medical parts that need to be extremely clean. These results are consistent throughout the operation of the machine.
3. If the parts that need to be cleaned contain hard to reach areas including long pipes or tubes, small openings or blind holes: As most vapor degreaser washers operate under vacuum, there will be no air pockets and therefore the cleaning media will reach every crevice of the part to remove oil and other fluids. The machines can also be configured with ultrasonic systems which will remove particles from difficult to reach areas.
4. If the cleanliness requirements for your cleaning task call for a completely dry and corrosion free part: The final step of a vapor degreasing process is vacuum drying. While hot air blow off systems will only dry the exterior of the part, a vacuum pump will make sure that solvent evaporates completely even from internal cavities of parts with complex geometries, such as CNC machine parts, thus resulting in completely dry parts.
5. Waste oil removal contains minimal solvent: In an efficient vapor degreasing process, all the oil introduced to the machine will go to a distillation tank where it is separated from the cleaning media. This waste oil will contain a low percentage of the solvent, which can be further reduced with a series of multiple distillation systems. In most cases, this waste can be disposed of as common oil with no regulated disposal considerations, reused in machining operations or even sold as fuel to power plants. However, you should always check and comply with individual regulations in your state.
6. Operating cost and return on investment: Vapor degreasing washers can continually regenerate and reuse solvent, minimize operator intervention with automated processes, have low maintenance requirements and reduced energy consumption, which results in lower operating costs. Lower costs in turn equal an accelerated return on investment.
7. Initial investment cost: To comply with environment regulations and cleanliness demands, modern vapor degreasing machines can result in a slightly higher initial investment. In most cases, a comparison between a vapor degreaser and an aqueous washer will show that the lower price of the later will be quickly offset by the high operating costs and quality issues that it brings, justifying the higher investment in a vapor degreaser.
8. Type of Material: The solvents used in the degreasing process are normally compatible with any type of material and it is perfect for companies that work with a variety of parts made of plastic, ceramic, steel, brass, copper, aluminum, etc. In an aqueous washer, detergents would have to be changed and/or adjusted depending on what is being cleaned.
9. If water usage is a concern at your plant: A vapor degreaser does not use water in the cleaning process, so not only there will be no water consumption, there won’t be any waste water treatment cost either. Besides, lack of water means that steel parts will likely be less prone to corrosion, even without use of rust inhibitors. Some systems require water to be used in the cooling system, but they are normally in a closed loop that requires the initial fill but no additional water during normal operation.
In summary, vapor degreasing washers offer the ability to maintain strict control over the quality of parts that are processed, allowing you to meet or exceed industry recommendations and standards. Combined with versatility in the size and configuration of the vapor degreasing washers, as well as automated high-volume processing and overall lower operating cost, vapor degreasers are an effective solution to consider in managing your parts cleaning requirements.
The material above is an overview of the advantages of using vapor degreasing as a parts cleaning process. Feel free to reach out if you would like us to expand in any particular topic related to this blog.
Vapor Degreasing Parts Washers
An Overview of Solvent-Based Parts Cleaning
In previous blog articles, we have provided an Overview of Industrial Parts Washers and covered the Basics of Parts Cleaning. We’ve also discussed the topic of water-based parts cleaning in our article on Aqueous Industrial Parts Washers. With this article, we will specifically delve into the topic of vapor degreasing and explain the types of materials, contaminates and industries which commonly use this method of parts washing. We’ll also talk about the actual process of vapor degreasing and how it has evolved over the years into an efficient and environmentally friendly alternative to other parts cleaning methods. Stay posted for other upcoming posts on this topic, which will highlight some important considerations when selecting vapor degreasing as your cleaning method.
Metalworking industries are heavy users of vapor degreasing as a parts cleaning method and include suppliers in the automotive, electronics, aerospace, medical, plumbing and aircraft, as well as other markets. Additionally, vapor degreasing is suitable for many other materials that are not affected by the solvent, such as certain types of plastic, glass, ceramics and coated items.
Vapor degreasing is a parts cleaning method that uses solvent vapor from hydrocarbon (halogenated or non-halogenated) modified alcohol to remove contamination from the surface of a part. It is one of the most common methods of parts degreasing. As the process name indicates, it is recommended for removing oil, grease and other non-polar substances. Vapor degreasing does not work very well to clean water-based coolants and emulsions, since the general rule when choosing a cleaning media is ‘like cleans like’. Thus, water-based cleaning media works best to clean contaminates such as water-based coolants and emulsions. Degreasing is recommended as a necessary step to prepare the surface of a part for any type of treatment, including painting, varnishing, heat treating, welding, electroplating, galvanizing, tin plating, other finishing, welding, brazing or to clean a final product.
In basic principles, the vapor degreasing process involves heating liquid solvent above the boiling point to generate vapor. This vapor is then brought in contact with the part and since the part is cooler than the vapor, the vapor condenses on the surface of the part and the condensation then dissolves the grease, oil or other contaminate that is on the surface. The solvent condensate (at this point mixed with the contamination removed from the part) is returned to the liquid containment tank. The solvent can generally be reused over and over, as its boiling point is lower than the contaminants and therefore it is possible to produce new contaminant-free vapor.
Vapor degreasing has been used as a cleaning process since early the 1970’s. The vapor degreasing process in past years involved an open top system that was not very efficient, and the solvents were harmful both for the environment and to human health. For this reason, the term “vapor degreasing” has been regarded with some negativity in the past and until today there are peopled “scared” by the old style of degreasing. With new technology and research, the process has evolved over the years to improve efficiency, reduce operating costs and virtually eliminate any environmental impact of the solvents, thus becoming an efficient and cost-effective cleaning method that utilizes minimum floor space and utilities.
The EcoCcore is one of Ecoclean’s solvent-based vapor degreasing system that meets the most demanding environmental requirements and produces minimal waste. Our recent blog article, Environmentally Friendly Parts Cleaning Solutions, can provide further details of this parts cleaning system.
In summary, manufactured parts of many different materials such as metal, plastic, ceramic and glass can have oil based contaminates that must be removed from the surface of the part before coating, finishing, or other manufacturing processes. Solvent-based vapor degreasers offer an efficient and environmentally friendly method for effectively removing such contaminates.
With improved equipment and new solvents, there has been a rise in the use of vapor degreasing systems. Additionally, growing operations of smaller team-based manufacturing areas instead of long assembly lines are making vapor degreasing systems an appealing option since they require less space and resources (such as water and electricity). With requirements for high purity and low contaminant levels, such as electronic components for aerospace materials and medical devices, vapor degreasing offers several alternatives at different cost and performance levels.
The material above is an overview of the process of solvent-based vapor degreasing as a highly effective parts cleaning method. Feel free to reach out if you would like us to expand in any particular topic related to this blog.
Simple Steps to Improve your Parts Cleaning Results
16 Tips for Cleaning Manufactured Parts
Some simple tweaks to your parts cleaning process can make a significant improvement in your parts cleaning results. In this article, we offer some basic actions you can take which may help in one or more of the following ways: improve your cleanliness results, increase your washer’s efficiency, reduce cleaning costs, and protect your washer against issues related to misuse, time and wear. Ecoclean recommends the following sixteen tips. While parts cleaning equipment is paramount in determining cleanliness quality for a given manufacturing process, external factors, both upstream and downstream, also play a role.
Following these actions and precautions can significantly improve cleaning results. These are general guidelines and may not necessarily apply to all parts cleaning situations.
Tip 1: Production-to-cleaning (avoid storage)
Move parts directly from the production line into the cleaning process. Avoid storing of parts, especially those parts manufactured with coolants. The coolant can dry on the parts making them more difficult to clean, resulting in longer cycle times, potential spotting on the parts and increased manufacturing costs.
Tip 2: Deburr parts prior to cleaning
Burrs will probably not be removed with a regular cleaning washer. Special applications for deburring (brush or high pressure) must be used prior to cleaning. Burrs left on parts can interfere with downstream processes and even get loose once parts are delivered to end customer. Another option is to consider if the application is a fit for a washer that offers a combination of processes, such as deburring, cleaning and drying.
Tip 3: Consider if changes or circumstances in the manufacturing process are compromising the cleaning results
Sometimes undesired cleaning results are not the caused by failures in the cleaning process. For example, a change in the coolant used in the machining process can interfere with the cleaning operation. Another variable that can affect cleaning results is dull tooling. Dull tooling can generate chips that are hard to remove. New tooling or a chip breaker can easily resolve the problem.
Tip 4: Reduce the quantity of parts in each batch
If cleaning is unsatisfactory with a basket-style washer, try loading fewer parts into the basket. While this will decrease throughput slightly, it can improve cleanliness by allowing more cleaning media (solution) to access the parts. Higher throughputs or faster cycle times are of little value if the parts aren’t getting clean.
Tip 5: Use the correct type of baskets
Use baskets made of stainless steel round wire. Avoid baskets made of galvanized perforated sheet metal. The perforated metal basket has a reduced open area, and therefore allows less cleaning media to access the parts. Additionally, perforated baskets deflect ultrasonic waves and can result in an ineffective cleaning.
Tip 6: Like cleans like
The composition of contaminants on the parts can determine the cleaning process that is selected. If the contaminants are oil-based cutting fluids, then use a hydrocarbon (isoparaffin) cleaning process. If contaminants are water-based, such as emulsions or lapping compounds, aqueous parts cleaners should be considered. If production has a mix of oil and water-based coolants, a process with a modified alcohol might be indicated. This general rule can influence cycle times, cleanliness levels, and repeatability.
Tip 7: Spotting is a consequence of mineral residue left on parts
Salts and minerals from the water might not be removed and can dry on the parts. Wiping with a clean cloth after washing might resolve the problem but certainly is not desirable. Using demineralized water in water-based machines can eliminate the problem. If cleaning with a vapor degreaser, water free parts are the best solution.
Tip 8: Pre-dip wet parts before cleaning with hydrocarbons
If parts have water or coolant on them, as may occur after different machining operations, dip the basket of parts into a hydrocarbon bath immediately after machining and prior to loading the basket into the cleaning machine. This can remove unwanted water.
Tip 9: Intermediate cleaning between manufacturing phases
In multi-stage production processes, different media, cutting fluids, or coolants are sometimes used at different stages. The mixture of these media can have unpredictable effects on the cleaning process. If cleaning results are unsatisfactory, try cleaning the parts between these manufacturing phases, rather than just at the end of the line. This may improve the results. In any case, always make sure the contaminants being removed are chemically compatible with the selected parts cleaning machine.
Tip 10: Fine cleaning machines must be dedicated to fine cleaning
Never use a fine cleaning machine for general purpose cleaning applications, even in a pinch. Fine cleaning may include the final wash stage or parts having tight cleanliness specifications. If the fine cleaning machine is misused, dirt can accumulate inside and eventually make its way onto parts. This will degrade the fine cleaner’s effectiveness and affect contaminant loading in filtration systems. It can ultimately result in part rejects.
Tip 11: A dirty environment jeopardizes cleanliness
It may be that when parts come out of the washer, they are clean. But after one hour in a plant with atmospheric particulates, they may get dirty again. There are times when a clean room is necessary. In such cases, parts may be transported via conveyor directly from the machine into a dedicated clean room.
Tip 12: Avoid human contact with clean parts
Like debris and contaminants in the manufacturing environment, humans can unknowingly transfer contaminants onto the parts, such as oils from their hands, or strands of hair. Handlers should wear lint-free gloves, hair nets, and work coats or body suits whenever possible.
Tip 13: Avoid dirty shipping packaging
After all the preparations, the last phase (packing and shipping) must introduce no new contaminants. It is best to wrap the parts in protective plastic. Make sure packaging crates or boxes are free of debris and particles that might spoil the cleaning unexpectedly.
Tip 14: Educate operators, handlers, and maintenance personnel
Although cleaning is a necessary evil, basic training about cleaning principles and best practices can go a long way toward improved production overall. Optimally, maintenance personnel should also be trained on how to get the most out of the cleaning machines they service.
Tip 15: Perform washer equipment maintenance
Cleaning machines are particularly influenced by changes in external processes. Likewise, their performance can be adversely affected by poor or inconsistent maintenance. This is especially the case with aqueous parts washers. Unlike cutting equipment, where poor maintenance results in an eventual breakdown or gauged part failure, on a washer, poor maintenance can result in less visible issues that go undetected far downstream. Regularly scheduled maintenance can reduce the likelihood of unseen issues and rejected parts or batches.
Tip 16: Watch for regulatory impacts
Some cleaning chemicals are being phased out by the EPA, making cleaning equipment that relies on those chemicals costlier to maintain. Washer manufacturers have been known to quote machines that rely on chemicals subject to pending or future environmental regulations. This may occur because a washer company’s equipment design is not compatible with newer cleaning agents or degreasers. When purchasing a parts washer, it is recommended to involve the supplier of the cleaning media about the chemicals to be used in the machine. There are parts washers and solvent degreasers that meet EPA and OSHA standards and some are classified as BACT (Best Available Control Technology) and pre-approved for use in California. It is recommended that manufacturers seek assurances about known regulatory impacts for their regions.
Aqueous Industrial Parts Washers
An Overview of Water-Based Parts Cleaning
In our prior blog articles, we’ve provided anand discussed the . With those overviews provided, our next articles will go into depth on each of the basic technologies used in cleaning operations: Aqueous, Hydrocarbons, Modified Alcohols, Steam and others (plasma, laser, CO2, etc.). This article will provide a more detailed look at washers using aqueous cleaning media, which is the most common and diverse method for cleaning parts.
Automated aqueous-based parts cleaning systems work by using both physical and chemical actions to displace contaminants from the manufactured parts.On the physical side, cleaning systems play with mechanical functions like pressure, flow, turbulence, ultrasonic, filtration, etc. to remove the particles from the parts. On the chemical side, a mixture of water with detergent(s) is used at different temperatures and concentrations to remove coolant, oil and grease from the components. Mixing the right chemicals in a water-based solution can result in the right cleaning solution that cannot only remove oil and emulsion but in many situations can also perform fine cleaning of assembly parts and leave a rust inhibitor film around the parts. These two aspects can be combined in a wide variety of styles and sizes and the selection of the right one is dependent upon the part, the contamination and the desired results. The best results are normally achieved in immersion processes with a combination of rotation and oscillation movement of the parts to support the cleaning and drying effect. Inline tunnel washers have the advantage of a continuous flow of parts and are perfect for cases where general cleaning and simple blow off drying is sufficient.
Increasing the number of cleaning stages will also increase the quality of the parts leaving the machines. Removal of large quantities of chips from mass-produced parts and particles of dirt with a defined size in fine cleaning can be achieved by selecting the appropriate filtration system.
In immersion systems, parts cleaning is achieved through submerging the parts into the cleaning solution, be it in a single rotating work chamber or a multi-stage immersion tank. Ultrasonics can be applied to remove debris from difficult to reach cavities. Aqueous flood change washing is used so the wash solution is perpetually filtered and changed out to avoid recontamination by the wash solution itself.
In tunnel washers the most common application is to use spraying nozzles to mechanically remove particles from the parts. Due to the nature of the process it is not recommended when parts have a very complicated geometry and require a tight cleanliness specification.
Besides the two styles described above, there are many other styles of washers, like robotic, rotary tables, tumbling, etc. that can also be used depending on the requirements, nature of the parts and budget.
Aqueous cleaning solutions use water as the primary media; with added conditioners, detergents, and surfactants to improve its cleaning properties. Large amounts of mechanical action facilitate removing contaminants that are especially thick or insoluble. To meet demanding cleaning specifications it is possible to add different additives that will improve the results. Generally, each contamination and each type of component material requires a different combination of products at different concentrations, but chemical suppliers have been advancing with the development of products that can satisfactorily clean many different materials and contaminations.
It is important to note that the quality of the water being used will play a very important role in the results achieved, regardless the style of the washer. City water can contain a lot of salts and minerals that will be difficult to remove and can result in spotting in the parts after drying. Reverse-osmosis and de-ionized water can eliminate these problems and are necessary for certain applications.
Drying is also an important aspect of the machines. In single-chamber or multi-tank washers, it is possible to incorporate a vacuum drying stage, which will result in completely dry parts. Although not common, vacuum drying is also possible in applications using a tunnel washer, but in such cases, it is necessary to index the vacuum cycle with the output of the machine and it might result in a discontinuity of the process flow.
Most high-end aqueous washers incorporate a PLC control system for custom programming of process sequences. This allows users to store multiple cleaning programs to process a wide variety of parts in a single machine.
Aqueous parts washers can initiate corrosion problems on the manufactured parts. As many washers use only hot air blowing or compressed air to dry parts, they can leave moisture on parts and in crevasses which results in spots and rust while wreaking havoc on downstream processes. In some cases, the moisture leads to batch rejects and scrapping of parts. It is very important that the air used for drying should be filtered and of good quality, otherwise it will contaminate the parts with the particles suspended.
To help prevent rust and improve dryness, higher end washers include efficient vacuum drying to deliver parts that are totally dry. By drawing a vacuum on the batched parts, the moisture evaporates completely, even from blind holes and areas where blow-off air cannot reach. Nevertheless, in many applications the use of a rust inhibitor in the last cleaning stage is necessary to eliminate rust problems.
Similarly, the interior of the washer itself can rust if not properly designed. Higher-end aqueous washers are made of stainless steel on all parts that come into contact with the cleaning solutions. his property is essential to prevent damage and ensure equipment longevity.
Other considerations of aqueous parts washing are that they normally require a lower initial investment, but savings can easily offset by the higher running costs, referring mainly to the maintenance of the cleaning baths. Each part or batch of parts cleaned reduces the concentration of detergent in the bath solution and increases the contamination of the bath. This requires constant monitoring and making up of the solutions and frequent changing of the entire tank contents. With higher running cost, it is necessary to increase throughput and lower unit and labor costs. They also need to be adaptable to process parts of varying size, geometry, weight and material; be simple to operate; and be programmable to provide streamlined automated operation. The washers should require minimal maintenance time and be designed using a smart modular construction to facilitate easy, safe maintenance.
Additionally, the washers must be environmentally friendly and demonstrate efficient and careful use of resources. And finally, the washer should also provide a level of guaranteed availability and high efficacy.
In summary, manufactured parts may contain large quantities of coolant, oils, grease, soil, and carbon deposits that accumulate from the stamping, cutting, drilling, broaching and turning processes. This residue must be stripped without adversely affecting the parts to meet its cleanliness specifications. Aqueous parts washer systems use a combination of pressure, temperature, turbulence and chemicals to remove the contaminants.
The material above is a summary and just the basics of some aspects of aqueous cleaning. Feel free to reach out if you would like us to expand in any particular topic related to this blog.
The Basics of Parts Cleaning
Factors that Determine the Best Parts Cleaning Method
Parts cleaning is an integral step of manufacturing processes across all industries, such as aerospace, automotive, optical, medical and others. It is used before many different processes, for example surface finishing or shipping final product. Part characteristics such as dimensions, shapes and material as well as the contamination and final application influence the cleaning method to be used. Taking all these factors in consideration we can determine the cleanliness requirements, type of equipment and processing cycle needed to properly clean the parts. The objective is to perform the cleaning to achieve a specific requirement level set by the customer or industry and often the results are quality control tested. A cleaning process that is custom designed for the cleanliness requirement ensures the result is appropriate for the application and that sustainability and efficiency are considered in the allocation of company resources.
The cleaning process varies depending upon what application the part is being used for (automotive, industrial, medical, optical or other) and if it is a finished product or if it is going to be further processed. For example, metal parts that need to be coated need to be free of contamination from the machining process, such as metal chips, dirt and grime and coolant that adheres to their surface. Removing these contaminants is necessary to ensure the quality of the final product such as powertrain parts for the automotive industry. Contaminated surfaces can cause imperfections in coating processes.
Organizations such as the ASTM International develop and publish technical standards for a variety of industries. They develop specifications and test methods or practices to ensure compliance within an industry. Once elected, these standards and practices become a requirement leaving the manufacturer responsible for meeting the quality benchmark.
An important consideration in achieving the desired cleanliness requirement is understanding the type of contaminant that needs to be removed. A contaminant is an unwanted substance on the surface of the part. Oil, dirt, grime, metal shavings, chips, paint, or other substances are built up due to machining or other activities. There are classifications for this build-up that start with the base material. The illustration is a representation of build-up on a metallic surface. The classifications include the base material, deformed boundary layer (measured in micrometers), reaction layer, sorption layer (both measured in nanometers), and the contamination layer (measured in micrometers).
Cleanliness requirements can vary greatly across various industries and applications. Whereas some parts may only need to be rinsed, parts being produced for industries like medical, optical and electronics must meet very high cleanliness requirements. Such cleaning methods will involve highly specialized machinery and controlled environments to minimize contamination.
Sometimes other considerations, such as environmental regulations, floorspace and the availability of other resources can influence the best cleaning method. Through the advancement of technology, parts cleaning can address these specialized needs.
There are various types of cleaning systems and machines to accommodate the many factors described above. More discussion to come on each of the types of industrial parts washers that meet the various types and levels of cleaning required by today’s manufacturers.
The Increasing Demand for Parts Cleanliness and Increasingly Complex Solutions
Overview of Industrial Parts Washers
Industrial parts washers are used to clean and degrease products (in process or finished) in preparation for further processing, be it machining, stamping, drawing, coating, etc. or assembly and shipping. As parts are created during the manufacturing process, machining oils, chemicals, particles, grease, dirt and metal chips adhere to their surfaces and get lodged in different areas. Removing these contaminants is essential to the quality of the final product (for example it is important to have a clean and oil free surface before the application of a finishing coating).
Parts washers are commonly used in large volume manufacturing plants that machine precision products. Commonly washed parts are CNC machined parts, metal bolts, nuts, screws, washers, rivets and industrial fasteners made of steel, stainless steel, aluminum, brass, copper, titanium and specialized alloys. Any residual chips, oil or grind slurry left from the forming processes (cutting, grinding, stamping, etc.) can be problematic and costly during later assembly and installation, and could lead to reject costs and loss of business for the supplier.
Parts washers vary in complexity and price to meet the part cleaning process requirements. Simple washers can use a spray or immersion process, while more complex washers deburr, wash, rinse and dry the parts. Automatic parts washers use computer controllers and conveyors to load, clean, dry and unload parts to save time, money and labor.
The increasing demand for burr-free and immaculately clean components, such as hydraulic and pneumatic systems, engines (blocks, heads, camshafts and crankshafts), pump and valve housings, nozzles for fuel injection and other applications, transmission parts (housings, gears, timing, etc.), steering and brake parts as well as other mechatronic components is constantly increasing as we see more stringent specifications. Minor dirt particles in an older system may not have caused an issue, but the same dirt particles in a modern system could cause a mechanical breakdown. Manufacturers and suppliers must utilize strong cleaning processes and equipment to maintain consistent compliance with OEM and industry cleaning requirements.
There are different types of automated industrial parts washers and they are based on four basic technologies used in washing operations: Aqueous, Hydrocarbon Modified Alcohols and Steam. Within each media type, there are numerous variations and configuration options such as immersion, flow-through, agitation, tumbling, hot-air or vacuum drying, and single or multi-chamber systems.
Different cleaning requirements can be categorized by means of the chemical term polarity (how well the electrons of a molecule are balanced in the molecule structure). Oils and mineral spirits are non-polar substances, while water is a polar substance. One of the main principles of determining which cleaning agent to use is “like cleans alike”, meaning that water will be better cleaned with water and oil will be better cleaned with oil.
More discussion to come on each of these types of industrial parts washers.
We’re Here for You
Flexible Sales, Consulting and Service Solutions
During these rapidly changing times, Ecoclean has flexible sales, consulting and service solutions to meet your unique needs and circumstances remotely or onsite. From a ready stock of new or lease machines to remote service and project consulting we are ready to serve you.
|Stock Inventory – Parts Washers: Ecoclean maintains an inventory of industrial parts cleaning machines that are available on short notice for immediate purchase or lease.|
|Cleaning Trials: Trails with sample parts in our Technology Center with precision cleaning systems, single-piece cleaning systems and batch cleaning system using various cleaning media such as water, non-halogenated hydrocarbons, modified alcohols and chlorinated hydrocarbons.|
|Cleanliness Analysis: Our technical cleanliness experts can conduct a detailed cleanliness analysis according to VDA Vol. 19.1 including documentation to support your quality certification requirements.|
|Remote Service & Digitization: Machine remote access and diagnostic technology to maximize uptime and customer satisfaction. The Ecoclean Service App provides fast and direct contact to your nearest Ecoclean Service Center.|
|Remote Project Consulting: Collaboration via telephone or video with our team of engineers, sales, project managers, applications and technical experts to evaluate your project and cleaning needs.|
|Ecoclean Spares: Genuine Ecoclean spare and wear parts packages, including pump repair kits, shipped from an on-site inventory and delivered to your plant within 48 hours to ensure machine uptime.|
The Multitasking EcoCvelox
Modular CNC Solution for All-in-One Parts Cleaning, Deburring and Drying
The EcoCvelox is a game-changer due to the fact that it is a compact, modular CNC solution for deburring, cleaning and drying combined in one system. The EcoCvelox is flexible in that it allows modules to be added or removed as the manufacturing process changes. It offers short cycle times of 15 seconds per pallet (holding one or multiple parts) and an optimal ratio of process time to machine cycle time. It can accommodate a wide variety of part types and has a unique part handling system that allows for easy implementation of new parts. The system can accommodate automatic loading by gantry or robot, or manual loading. Loading can be done at opposite ends of the machine.
Cutting Tool Engineering recently interviewed Ecoclean about the benefits of the EcoCvelox and you can hear about the details here.
Environmentally Friendly Parts Cleaning Solutions
Ecoclean Products and Manufacturing Processes are Designed with the Environment in mind
For solvent-based vapor degreasing that is environmentally friendly, the EcoCcore is the answer! The EcoCcore is a closed-loop, airless and airtight solvent-based cleaning system that meets the most demanding environmental requirements, does not clean with water and creates minimal waste. In general, Ecoclean parts washing systems are designed to be energy efficient. Other Ecoclean batch cleaning machines such as the EcoCcompact and the Minio 85C have a similar closed-loop solvent-based system that also does not use water and creates minimal waste. More details are provided on our cleaning and degreasing products page.
For aqueous single-piece parts cleaning that is effective, flexible and environmentally friendly, the EcoCagile offers numerous benefits:
- Energy reduction features
- Water reduction features
- Variety of media and filtration options
- Efficient ventilation and airflow designs
- Space and footprint savings (facility impact)
- Modular and re-deployable implications (capital impact)
Many automotive OEM’s trust and rely on the technology of the EcoCagile for meeting the increasingly demanding cleanliness requirements of new vehicle technologies. In addition, Ecoclean works with OEMs to support their business and sustainability goals.
The Dynamic Flow Control (DFC) dynamic volumetric flow control (DFC) developed by Ecoclean is a highly efficient and highly economical tool for energy saving available on water-based robotic washers. The Ecoclean DFC service product reduces energy consumption wherever fluids need to be supplied in a non-uniform quantity. The controller developed by Ecoclean can control the system more precisely and faster, and the power surplus of the supply system is greatly minimized or even eliminated. This not only saves significant amounts of electricity and thus CO2 emissions, but also makes it a major factor in reducing unit costs in parts production.
Energy costs are a major component of production costs, but can be reduced significantly. For part cleaning systems, Ecoclean offers a wide range of services that will help you boost your equipment‘s energy efficiency. An extensive upgrade package is available and will greatly improve your energy balance. More information can be found in our brochure on energy savings.
Did you know that the Environmental Management System of our Centers of Competence in Monschau and Filderstadt (Germany) as well as our Group companies in Southfield (USA), Le Mans (France) and Oslavany (Czech Republic) have the ISO 14001 certification? ISO 14001 certification includes, for example, more efficient use of energy and raw materials, waste minimization and targeted risk avoidance. In addition, the certified companies are taking on more responsibility for environmental management and its integration into business processes.
Proper Care of Your Cleaning Equipment
Protect your Cleaning Investment, Prolong your Machine Life and Increase Uptime
Cleaning your parts cleaning machine is an important step in your manufacturing process. If your machine production or cleaning processes are put on temporary hold, it is a perfect time to utilize for a thorough cleaning of your parts washing machines. We all know that when machines are stagnant, bacteria can grow and damage the machines or even raise health concerns. To protect your employees, your equipment, and improve uptime, proper preventive measures should be taken. Ecoclean can offer instruction and provide services for the proper care and maintenance of your machines.
While these pictures are not the same machines, the ‘Before cleaning’ image illustrates how regular use over time (or idle periods without cleaning) affects the surfaces and component inside of a parts washer. Like any other type of machine maintenance, cleaning should be performed regularly. The ‘After cleaning’ image represents the condition that your machine may be returned to with a thorough cleaning performed by one of our technicians.
Proper Machine Shutdown
Tips to protect and prolong the life of your cleaning equipment
If you are faced with a situation in which you need to shut down your cleaning machine for an extended period of time, certain steps should be taken in order to protect and prolong the life of your cleaning equipment and to ensure a smooth startup when it is time to resume production. The following tips highlight those steps for both solvent and water-based machines.
(Modified Alcohol, Hydrocarbon):
- If the plant/machine power can remain ON:
- All machines are designed to have a power consumption mode that will only run minimal facilities while ensuring the machine circulates to keep the machine in good working condition while not using significant power and resources
- Ensure the washer remains in “Automatic” cycle for these options to function
- If the plant/machine power CANNOT remain on:
- Our solvent based machines can be powered down without any need for draining or additional unique steps
- Ensure the machine is first cycle stopped
- Ensure the machine is set to “base position” via the HMI
- Shut down the machine via the HMI control
- Push the machine E-stop button
- Power down the main panel by engaging the power disconnect
- Follow any lockout/tagout procedures you may have per your company policies
- Close any external supply such as air and water by closing the supply line manual valves
(EcoCagile, EcoCflex, EcoCwave, 81W, etc.):
- If the plant/machine power can remain ON:
- For Robotic washers only: These machines are designed to have a power consumption mode that will only run minimal facilities to ensure the machine circulates and maintains the minimal functions to keep the machine in good working condition while not using significant power and resources
- Ensure the washer remains in “Automatic” cycle for these options to function
- This will help to maintain and reduce the opportunity for bacteria growth in the wash baths
- Add an Algicide or other recommended additives to minimize growth of algae and bacteria as precaution. Ecoclean suggests discussing this with your preferred chemical supply company
- For 81W, EcoCwave, and other water-based chamber batch cleaning washers, it is recommended to follow the instructions based on no power (see below)
- If the plant/machine power CANNOT remain on:
- The only way to ensure no harmful growth of unwanted agents in the washer is to completely drain the system. This also will help minimize issues at startup of your equipment upon resuming production
- This is suggested if the washer will remain stationary for more than 5-7 days.
- Follow your supplied manual to properly drain your model of washer
- After draining, please ensure that you also rinse the system out as best as possible with clean city water.
- It is recommended that the system be filled with water to the minimal working level and cycle the machine for 10-30 minutes
- After the clean water cycling, follow normal draining procedure again
- Upon completion of the rinse cycle and draining, ensure the machine is cycle stopped
- Ensure the machine is set to “base position” or home position
- Shut down the machine via the HMI control (if equipped)
- Push the machine E-stop button
- Power down the main panel by engaging the power disconnect
- Follow any lockout/tagout procedures you may have per your company policies
- Close any external supply such as air and water by closing the supply line manual valves
If you have any questions related to the above, or need support in any way, please feel free to contact our Customer Service Hotline at +1 855-200-3877.
Comprehensive Service Support for your Cleaning Equipment
Ecoclean Service Portfolio: Covering All Your Needs in One Comprehensive Plan
Ecoclean offers comprehensive service for all cleaning equipment beginning with the design and continuing to the implementation far beyond. Our eight service areas include:
Life-cycle spare parts management of original spare and wear parts from in stock inventory delivered to your plant within 48 hours.
Maintenance & On-Site Service:
Personalized after-sales service maintenance at various levels including help desk and spare parts management.
Remote Service & Digitization:
Machine remote access and diagnostic technology to maximize uptime and customer satisfaction. The Ecoclean Service App provides fast and direct contact to your nearest Ecoclean Service Center.
Equip your cleaning installation to meet the challenges of the future.
Cleaning technology specialists provide diagnostic support aimed at finding the fastest possible solution.
Comprehensive training programs from machine operation to maintenance.
Collaboration with our team of engineers and technical experts to maximize uptime and long-term sustainability of your cleaning equipment.
Energy Efficiency Solutions:
Boost your cleaning equipment‘s energy efficiency and reduce productions costs with an energy optimization scheme.