Wet Blasting Process in Industrial Parts Cleaning Described

Aqueous Industrial Parts Cleaning Process

industrial parts washer effect

Photo from: http://www.pfonline.com/

The concept of the wet blasting process in parts cleaning and surface finishing is straightforward enough: combine abrasive media with water to form a special slurry, then add regulated compressed air to control the pressure as it is discharged over a surface.

It is a dust-free and static-free process that removes burrs, scale, oxidation and rust, marks, paint, and coatings. It can also remove oils and grease while performing other functions such as preparing the surface for other coatings or processes.

Today, matte finishes are a popular choice for parts—often for both practical and cosmetic reasons. Automated slurry-blasting machines are a great choice for achieving fine, non-directional matte finishes in a single operation. Depending on the application, profiles of less than 4 Ra are possible, and users can choose from various media, including glass beads, ceramic or plastics.

The slurry-blast process virtually eliminates embedded media issues commonly found in dry blasting systems. The water and slurry are recirculated, requiring no drain hookup. The process does not create dust, and chemicals are not required, adding to its appeal for manufacturers committed to limiting their environmental impact.

Read the rest at http://www.pfonline.com/articles/have-a-blast-cleaning-parts

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The Evolution of Aqueous Cleaning Technology

We at AEC thought that this was an interesting article (if a little dated). Let us know what you think.

Aqueous cleaning technology is changing more rapidly than ever. Since this industry was launched by the adoption of the Montreal Accords on VOC reduction in 1992, the technology in aqueous industrial parts washers has gone through several distinct phases. This cleaning method has become a vital part of manufacturing for almost every type of product, and close attention is given to ways to improve this process in order to keep up with ever-increasing customer and regulatory demands.

Phase 1—Working Like a Solvent

The initial expectation was that water-based cleaners would work much like solvents. Chemical formulations were developed to make water mimic the solvent properties of the most popular degreasers that were being phased out as ozone depleters or exposure risks. These solutions, or water-based cleaners, were seen as inherently cheaper, because the hydrocarbon portion of the solutions was greatly reduced relative to original solvent degreasing materials. Plus, water was essentially free!

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Kimberly Clark Workplace Safety Survey Reveals High Noncompliance

The AEC team values workplace safety very highly. We are disturbed at the survey results below regarding lack of regard for safety equipment and precautions.

A survey by Kimberly-Clark Professional found that 89 percent of safety professionals had observed workers not wearing safety equipment when they should have been and that 29 percent said this had happened on numerous occasions.

All of the 119 survey respondents said they were responsible for purchasing, selecting or influencing the purchase or selection of PPE or industrial wiping solutions.

According to company, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce employee exposure to hazards when engineering and administrative controls are not feasible or effective. Yet, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that, of the workers who sustained a variety of on-the-job injuries, the vast majority were not wearing PPE.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said workplace accidents and injuries were their highest concerns. Worker compliance with safety protocols also was cited as the top workplace safety issue. Twenty-eight percent of respondents chose this, while 21 percent selected “fewer workers.” “Insufficient management support for health and safety functions” and “meeting the safety needs of an aging workforce” tied at 18 percent. Lack of funds to implement safety programs was last at 8 percent.

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Saving on Filtration Expense by Employing Particle Retention

We thought this article from Process Cleaning was informative.

Cleaner Solutions

Save on filtration expense by employing “step-down” particle retention

Filtration is the process of separating solids from liquids or solids from gases. Some instances of filtration, like maintaining clarity in a swimming pool, are common and familiar, while industrial filtration systems are less familiar to many. In process cleaning, filtration systems are generally employed to filter undesired particulates, reduce waste, or sometimes even improve a product by preventing rejects. But no matter what the application, there are downsides to filtration processes. Recovery and handling of solids or liquids, and what to do with a solid when it ends up as part of the filter media, can plague the filtration system. To reduce the amount of filter media, solution loss, down time and waste, another approach should be considered—step-down particle filtration.

Covering the Basics

Remember the example of the swimming pool? When installed and maintained properly, a pool filter can provide excellent clarity as it recirculates the water in the pool. However, sand-type media, strainers or even depth-type filter cartridges all suffer from the same problem—as solids accumulate on the surface of the filter, they create an ever-denser mass that the water has to push through. Finer and finer particles are retained on the filter media until the retention exceeds the pump pressure capabilities and the water can no longer push through the solids. Th us, filters left unattended on a swimming pool will pull fewer and fewer particles out of the water, until finally failing altogether. But step-down filtration offers a solution to that challenge.

Read the rest of the article here.

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How To Achieve Parts Cleaning Beyond the Machines

While an industrial parts washer can go a long way, it’s only part of a comprehensive clean parts process…

Today, parts production is laid out to take best possible advantage of available floor space for economic reasons. Various process steps such as parts machining (e.g. turning, grinding and milling), cleaning, transport, storage and assembly are thus executed in close proximity to each other. Resulting contamination — for example, grinding dust, chips, particulates stirred up by people or factory trucks — can thus be easily carried over from one process step to the next. Contamination of this sort can only be avoided or reduced if factors such as clean production sequences and a clean manufacturing environment are taken into consideration when the production facility is laid out. A further important aspect is increasing employee awareness for cleanliness at the workplace.

An Effective Cleaning Concept

The great influence of parts cleanliness on subsequent product quality makes parts cleaning a value creation step within the manufacturing sequence. An effective cleaning strategy is essential in order to manage this step economically. Some of the most important considerations include which machining processes need to be followed up by a cleaning step, and which results need to be attained. Strict requirements for parts cleanliness can be fulfilled with up-to-date cleaning systems, for example with a cabinet parts washer — assuming the cleaning process has been well matched to the work pieces to be cleaned and existing contamination, as well as the required results, with regard to process technology, cleaning agent, temperature and duration.

Looking at the cleaning system as a “problem solver” at the end of the production process which provides the required cleanliness at a single stroke is certainly unrealistic—and uneconomical. Furthermore, expectations such as these would necessitate highly complex cleaning systems, resulting in high investment and operating costs. The following applies in general: the less contamination is carried over from manufacturing, the faster and more economically the desired results can be achieved.

Cleaning and transport containers also influence parts cleanliness. Due to corrosion, a damaged coating layer or the carryover of contaminated cleaning agents, cleaning racks and bulk goods containers can themselves be transformed into sources of contamination. It’s wrong to assume that containers which are only used to transport cleaned parts always remain clean. Transport containers must also be subjected to regular cleaning, in order to prevent recontamination of cleaned parts through contact with the container.

Temporary Corrosion Protection—Part of the Overall Process

During production—for example, after degreasing, as well as during and after machining processes—very clean surfaces are exposed to the air, which are highly susceptible to corrosion. Aqueous machining media are also frequently used which, as a rule, promote corrosion. Effective drying and/or cleaning is thus advisable, without delay, after processing with aqueous or corrosive media. Chips and metallic rubbings must also be removed as quickly as possible, because this type of contamination may lead to corrosion, even underneath protective coatings. Storage times between the individual machining steps should also be kept as short as possible. However, due to the fact that this cannot always be assured, temporary preservation is an imperative part of the manufacturing process for many workpieces.

Preservation during the Cleaning Process

Workpieces are protected from corrosion during the cleaning process by means of additives contained in the used cleaning agent. In order to provide parts with protection during subsequent storage and transport as well, temporary preservation is required. It makes good sense to apply the preservative while the parts are in the cleaning system. Oily, aqueous and wax-like substances are available to this end. Processes such as phosphate coating can also be carried out within the cleaning system.

Corrosion protection oils, emulsions and greases are used for corrosion protection purposes. Corrosion protection oils are mineral oil raffinates with various viscosities. The viscosity determines the thickness of the oil film, and thus the degree of protection. Corrosion protection emulsions consist of aqueous emulsions containing mineral oils and waxes, to which biocides and corrosion inhibitors have been added. These additives prevent the aqueous phases from causing corrosion before they evaporate. As opposed to corrosion protection oils, corrosion protection greases can be applied in greater thicknesses— they consist of Vaseline to which inhibitors have been added in order to increase the degree of protection. Fatty acid and amine adducts are normally used for temporary, aqueous corrosion protection. These substances are added to the final rinsing bath in the cleaning system, and may also be added to aqueous machining media such as coolant water. They create a dense film on the surface of the treated material which only seldom disrupts subsequent processes and thus, as a rule, need not be removed. Volatility and the hydrophobic effect can be adjusted by selecting the appropriate substance.

Hydrophobing agents create a water-repellent coating which facilitates drying, and which is washed away only slowly by condensate. However, these film layers can only be removed with alkalines. Corrosion protection waxes are complex, fluid systems made of waxes or wax-like substances, mineral spirits and corrosion inhibiting additives. They form workable, hard layers which are resistant to touch.

Criteria for the Selection of Temporary Corrosion Protection

Depending upon the selected corrosion protection medium and how thickly it’s applied, temporary preservation usually protects the workpiece for a duration of a few hours to two years. Which processes the parts will be subjected to after preservation is a critical factor in selecting the right medium. Being able to easily remove the corrosion protection medium prior to further process steps is an additional criterion, because it may impair surface finishing results.

If the part will be sent immediately to the next process or to assembly, a thin, perhaps even volatile protective layer is usually adequate. In this case, it must be kept in mind that even a fingerprint could be enough to trigger the corrosion process. If a lengthy period of storage or transport is required, longer term protection must be applied. Solutions of this sort include, for example, the so-called VCI materials (volatile corrosion inhibitors). They consist of powders and liquids, as well as impregnated films and paper. Due to the fact that the corrosion inhibitors contained in these materials are volatilized into the ambient air, the parts—if they’re not packaged in VCI film—must be stored and transported in containers which are airtight to the greatest possible extent.

Adapted from Process Cleaning Magazine.

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Industrial Part Washer: Is Wasting Water Diluting Your Profits?

In the face of rapidly depleted fresh water supplies, the industrial sector is learning that reducing water usage and increasing reuse is an essential ingredient of productivity and profitability today. This is increasingly true in countries such as the U.S., where water usage for industrial purposes is 46 percent of all water consumption, says Dr. Peter Glieck, President of the Pacific Institute for environmental studies.


Today’s manufacturers and fabricators are now realizing that they are major stakeholders in this global water conservation effort and that water conservation saves cost. As such, giant conglomerates like Ford Motor Company (Dearborn, MI) and Parker Hannifin Corporation (Cleveland, OH), to global heat-treating specialists like Bodycote (Rochester, NY), are beginning to focus on process water reuse to not only conserve water, but to also improve process uptime and product quality, along with reducing exorbitant disposal and maintenance costs. To do this they are taking actions such as incorporating advanced separation technology, addressing pollution like oil, grease or dirt, to increase the life of precious production fluids like cleaner solutions and coolants. So, how does this affect an industrial part washer?

New Realities in Aqueous Separation


Automotive manufacturers and metal fabricators, for example, are using a new and highly efficient technology—dynamic oil separation—to continuously remove process oils and even minute contaminants from an aqueous cleaning solution, while being used with no process interruptions. Traditional mechanical separation methods are based on one of two principles: (1) gravity separation, in combination with weir skimmers and tank overflow, or

(2) adhesion, with hoses, wheel/disks or belt skimmers used to adhere oil in order to lift it

from the surface of bath water. Both methods are problematic, particularly in high-volume

production settings where delays to change or maintain aqueous baths involve downtime.


For instance, adhesion separation often allows dirt to settle through surface oil and cycle back into the bath water, leading to dirty parts and requiring frequent solution change. The adhesion method also draws up and removes cleaning agents along with water and oils, creating “wet” oil and adding to oil disposal costs. The overflow (decanting) method wastes vast amounts of coolant or cleaner from the bath, which is a waste of costly resources.


Another method, which uses honeycomb-like traps or plates called “coalescing media” to separate and capture oil and contaminants, has proved to be inefficient and maintenance intensive due to its sensitivity to dirt.


Instead, dynamic separation technology operates on a different principle—Bernoulli’s Effect, the phenomenon whereby increased stream velocity in a fluid results in internal pressure reduction. The Bernoulli Effect is probably best known as the principle that creates the “lift” of aircraft wings. Dynamic separation uses fluid pressure differential to enable the separation of liquids of differing specific gravities. This technology was developed by Aqueous Recovery Resources (ARR) (Bedford Hill, NY) and is incorporated in its Suparator® systems specifically for this type of application.


This unique technology removes oil so effectively, that lots of dirt and other foreign matter are separated with the oil. Elimination of these contaminants warrants a much cleaner process and cleaner parts, translating to better quality products and less rejects. Dynamic separation also extends bath life, providing significant savings in detergents. Bath changes are greatly reduced, vast quantities of water are conserved, oils are more efficiently recycled and far smaller volumes of cleaners and coolants have to be disposed of.

Ford Dearborn—Pressing for Perfection


At Ford Motor Company’s Dearborn, MI plant, a giant, 2,600-ton Schuler press using up to 300 tons of dies turns 700,000 pounds of steel per day into doors for their best-selling Ford F150 pickup trucks. At the press area, stacks of steel “blanks” arrive, each blank coated with a thin film of mill oil to preserve the metal against corrosion. The steel blanks have to be washed to get rid of the oil and any dirt or other foreign matter prior to being stamped. “These oiled blanks attract dirt like a magnet,” says Ed Spencer, controls engineer at the Ford Dearborn stamping operation. “As a result, the blanks have to be washed thoroughly.We don’t want that oil, which may have dirt in it, to get into the die. So, we spray wash it with a detergent solution pumped up from a huge tank downstairs.”


If even one piece of dirt “birdshot” remains on a blank when the giant press hits it, the finished piece will have a dimple on it that ruins the door. At the rate the Dearborn plant are stamping the doors—900 pieces an hour—if a dirt problem is not identified quickly, the result could be the scrapping of a lot of metal in a very short time. “We have very tight demand,” Spencer explains. “We have an assembly department downstairs that puts the inner and outer door panels together and then we ship it off to assembly. If we remain shut down because of dirt issues with the cleaning solution, we have problems: manpower and productivity loss, and wasted parts.”


Recognizing the need for an efficient and reliable separation technology to maintain a clean process, the Ford stamping operation installed a Suparator unit from Aqueous Recovery Resources (Bedford Hill, NY) in 2006. In addition to meeting high Ford quality standards, which was essential, Spencer recognized that a truly effective oil separation technology would help maximize the uptime of the critical Schuler press that had to meet extraordinarily high volume requirements.


Now, after the dirt and oil are washed off the blanks, the cleaner returns to the holding tank where the Suparator removes fluid from the surface. Any oil in this concentrated stream, with any entrained dirt, is separated from the fluid continuously and without water or detergent. “In the past, we used a centrifuge system that spun and tried to get the heavy particulate out of the solution that way. But that was a maintenance nightmare,” Spencer says. “We tried to remove the oil with a hose-type skimmer, a plastic tube that went around in a circle, and the oil would cling to it, supposedly. But it never really worked.


“When we saw the Suparator technology, I thought we should test it,” Spencer continues. “And it works about 100 times better than the other system. We get only a small amount of water with the oil, but it is about 100 times more efficient than the other system. The key is it takes out the fine dirt particles better than the centrifuge ever did.” Spencer adds that although the policy of his operation is to change the cleaner every two weeks, it stays clean enough to extend its use to at least two months. That pays off in added productivity, especially considering that there is no backup equipment for the giant Schuler press. “We’re realizing our major savings on quality and availability,” he says. “Uptime is now averaging up to 95 percent, which is excellent for the stamping industry. We also have less wasted materials and get extended cleaner life. Obviously, that adds up to a lot.”

Extending resources at Parker-Hannifin


At the Hydraulic Pump/Motor Division of Parker Hannifin Corporation, a Lindberg washer incorporated intentional overflow of the cleaning bath to remove quench oil from heat-treated parts. This method resulted in the loss of cleaner and “excessive volumes” of water being added to the plant’s effluent, according to Larry McCracken, plant engineer.


To reduce the costs resulting from those cleaning and disposal problems, the washer was modified to eliminate the need to continuously overflow the bath. However, some system was needed to control the oil concentrations in the bath. “Initially, a belt-type skimmer was tried, but was unsuccessful,” McCracken says. “So, a Suparator unit was tried on ARR’s 30-day Trial Program. Approximately 10 gallons of quench oil is removed from the bath daily. This result has greatly reduced operating costs as well as our getting cleaner parts from the washer.”


Cost savings included a reduction in water consumption from 19,080 gallons per month to only 3,480 per month. Chemical losses, previously recorded at 298 gallons per month, were reduced by 244 gallons—a savings of almost 82 percent. The monthly cost of water disposal was reduced by approximately 80 percent, and the monthly cost of chemicals reduced by more than 80 percent. The total annual savings has been at least $101,184.

Multiple Cost Savings


Blaine Timmerman of Bodycote, the world’s largest provider of metallurgical testing and thermal processing services, says that his Rochester NY’s heat-treating facility has experienced multiple payoffs from the use of dynamic separation.


In high-volume production operations such as Bodycote’s, downtime or quality rejects resulting from inferior separation methods is costly and causes weekly or even daily maintenance problems such as dirty bath water and frequent bath changes. Such problems can lead to scrapped products as well as falling behind JIT demands.


Timmerman explains that in the past, his heat-treating process tended to create a rag layer between the oil and water in the dunk/spray washer. “We would get this nasty in between layer that was an emulsification of water in oil,” he says. “It didn’t completely separate into either the oil or water. It tended to stay right there in the middle, sandwiched between the water and oil. And that hindered oil separation because the emulsified layer would roll down the skimmer rope or plate back into the water and stay there.” The result was more frequent bath changes and downtime. “I had tried just about every oil separation technology,” says Timmerman, “Our operation and our customers are very demanding, and conventional oil separators just haven’t met our needs.”


After using a variety of separation devices, including disks, belts, mops and plates, Timmerman heard of a new dynamic separator technology, the Suparator, which removes virtually all oil, the oily emulsion and oil-suspended particulates from aqueous media, even at very low concentrations. The Suparator system removes oil-entrained solids and particulates, which means that they do not have time to settle through the oil into the water. This also significantly improves product quality, maintenance intervals and associated downtime.


In addition, the dynamic separator technology saves Timmerman’s Bodycote operation on oil disposal costs. “We used to have to pay a penalty to dispose of oil with high water content,” says Timmerman. “In 2002, relatively ‘dry’ oil disposal cost was approximately 15 cents a gallon. But because of the water drag-out of our old oil separators, we were getting wet oil. If the oil had more than 10 percent water, which was often the case, we had to pay around $1.05 per gallon—a very significant difference.” In 2007, the penalty price for wet oil would be much higher.


According to Timmerman, today, in addition to eliminating the rag (emulsified) layer and the water drag-out, the dynamic separation technology has cut oil disposal costs as well as increasing the reuse of their bath water several times over.


Article From: Process Cleaning


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