Parts washing is necessary for many industries. Many traditional forms of part washing used chemical solvents to clean and polish the parts. Chemical solvents are extremely toxic to the environment, but many industries still continue to use them to this day.
However, other parts washers are now environmentally-friendly, thanks to a few key changes. In the past, water-based cleaning solutions were not as effective as chemical cleaning. Today's technology hast changed that. The newest forms of parts washers use biomatic parts. This mixes the best of biology and other scientific research to benefit the environment. The parts can be placed into a heater washer containing a PH neutral solution combined with a microbe colony. The microbes can then break down grease, oil, and other contaminants to give the parts a cleaning that is highly effective and environmentally safe.
After the materials are used by the microbes, the hydrocarbons are converted into carbon dioxide and water. The water is then filtered and used again. Oxygen is pumped into the solution to keep the microbes healthy and happy. When this form of system is used, not only is it beneficial for the environment, but it can be reused almost indefinitely, making the entire process cost-effective and extremely friendly to the environment.
The main benefits of using this system, aside from the environmental benefits, are the ease of use, low power requirements, low maintenance costs, and no chemical solutions necessary to purchase or dispose. You may find you never go back to other parts cleaning methods.
Parts washers are one of the last steps in the parts manufacturing process; they are designed to clean, degrease and dry mass quantities of small or large parts in preparation for surface treatment and distribution. Newly machined, forged or fabricated products are usually coated in oils, chemicals, burrs, abrasive dust, debris, paint and other residue left over from the fabrication process. Finishing coatings such as zinc and electroplating are not effective if they are applied on a dirty surface.
Parts washer varieties include industrial washers, which are manual, semi-automatic or, most commonly, fully automatic. Parts cleaning systems differ depending on many factors. Most are aqueous parts washers, which can be spray washers, rotary washers or agitating parts washers; each variety cleans parts with a different method. Parts cleaners wash many different parts, from large collections of small parts to individual large parts like drums or automotive parts. Aside from industrial manufacturers, the electronics, automotive and medical industries often use industrial parts washers. Equipment, furniture and technology often require paint, powder coatings, zinc coatings, lubricants, electroplating and other surface treatment, none of which would be possible without thorough parts washing in many cases.
Parts cleaning equipment, which makes up the washer machine, consists of a cabinet, a water heater, a filtration system, pumps, scrubbers, brushes and nozzles. Cabinets (also called enclosures or housings) are often made of stainless steel, though some cabinets also feature glass and plastic components. Water heaters can be gas, electric or steam powered. The filtration system collects waste and debris generated by the cleaning process. Pumps increase the pressure of sprayers, and scrubbers and brushes help dislodge contaminants from parts. Hot water, detergents, solvents, vapors, acids and alkaline solutions, some synthetic and some natural, are used to break down contaminants and remove them from parts. Some are fully automated and controlled by a CNC machine to adjust settings, while some require manual loading. The parts being washed can be front or back loaded, and they can be washed in a basket, tray, rack system, by a robotic arm, a rotary table or conveyer belt. Most part washers are aqueous, meaning they use water and a water-based chemical or natural solvent in which they boil, blast or soak the dirty parts until they have been cleaned.
Spray washers, which are quite common, are built with an enclosed conveyer belt that moves parts through a spraying water cleaning machine. Other types of aqueous washers include ultrasonic, agitating and rotary. Ultrasonic washers are relatively new to the industry. They immerse parts in water and clean their surfaces by using tiny underwater air blasts and solvents. Agitating washers are also immersion washers, and after the parts are underwater and coated in solvent, mechanical energy creates a vibrating and mixing action via impellers or paddles. Both of these immersion methods are effective in cleaning parts ranging from small to large. Rotary drum washers are neither immersion nor spray washers. Instead, they tumble smaller parts through a rotating drum that washes, rinses and dries the parts. It has a spiral conveyer on the inner wall that moves parts in a circling motion in order to clean all sides. Some washers are designed specifically around the product they are washing. Automotive parts washers clean vehicle engines, transmissions, pneumatic parts and hydraulic parts in hot water solutions and ultrasonic cleaning tubs. Not only do they clean newly manufactured car parts, but used parts that have become dirty due to road grime, dirt and grease as well. Drum washers are used to clean larger drums, pails and barrels in industrial settings that hold and store different chemicals and materials, such as paint, inks, grease and adhesives. Each time they are emptied or change the chemical, material or product they are housing, drums must be thoroughly cleaned.
Drum washers must be able to clean the interior and exterior of these containers since both come become dirty very easily. Spray washers and rotary washers are the best solution in this case, since the nozzles can reach the drum interiors. They are then air or heat dried. Finally, small parts washers, either rotary or immersion washers, are designed specifically to handle large amounts of small parts such as fasteners and screws. Because there are as many types of unfinished parts to wash as there are fields of industrial manufacturing, many industrial parts washer manufacturers offer custom-designed parts washing machinery. These parts cleaners may be as simple as a stand-alone basket immersion washer, or they may be as complex as a five-step deburring, aqueous tumbling, rinsing, drying and paint coating machine. Innovative industrial technology makes it possible to combine many parts of the finishing process into one specialized machine. Whether the equipment used is a bench-top rotary tumbler or an outdoor washing, drying and powder coating system, parts cleaning is essential to the proper function of equipment. Aqueous parts cleaners have traditionally used chemical solvents to strip parts of grease and dirt during the cleaning process, but recent environmental concerns and regulations have encouraged the innovation of natural, non-chemically based solvents. Ultrasonic parts cleaning is the latest technology in environmentally safe precision surface cleaning.
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A substance for aggressive cleaning, typically sand, garnet, steel or
- Any aqueous mixture having a pH less than seven on a one to 14 scale. Any acidic solution with a pH lower than three is considered strongly acidic.
- Cleaning utilizing acids combined with surfactants to removing rust, metal or scale. Acids with a pH lower than six do not work as degreasers.
- The use of mineral acid to remove scale and rust from metal.
- A device that provides a pressurized "curtain" of air for cleansing, cooling or drying.
- An aqueous cleaning process done with a greater than 7 pH level utilizing phosphates, silicates or other alkaline salts combined with surfactants in water.
- Materials that microbial activity can naturally reduce from their original state into simple chemical compounds.
- Nature's way of cleaning using microorganisms (bacteria, enzymes, fungi) to break down the organic compounds in waste or pollutants.
- The use of pressurized air to clean or remove excess water.
- Solutions of salt in aqueous cleaning systems that maintain a preferred pH level. Aqueous cleaners use buffers since the precipitation and solubility of metals affect the pH level.
- These additives enhance the effectiveness of detergents by sequestering metals like magnesium and calcium. A problem is that a lot of builders contribute to environmental damage, with substances such as phosphates.
- A rinsing process that involves transferring product through a sequence of tanks, in which the rinse water in the last rinse tank runs over to previous tanks in the sequence (a countercurrent flow). This permits the product to be subjected to progressively pure water.
- A drying process using a basket quickly spinning for separation of excess oils, water or other substances from parts. A turbine fan installed underneath the basket pulling the air through improves the process.
- A parts cleaning system in which the water is purified and then re-circulated through the system after purification treatment; in aqueous cleaning systems, it goes back into the wash and rinse tanks and is a cost saving measure. Membrane, reverse osmosis and ion exchange filtration are typical techniques to purify the water.
- The degree to which an aqueous mixture can conduct electricity and an indication of the purity of the water. The level of conductivity is reciprocal to the level of resistance (e.g. the lower the conductivity, the higher the resistance and the greater the water purity).
- The use of companies through contracts that specialize in cleaning industrial parts and components and provide services to a wide range of industries and are comprehensive in their operations - from simple aqueous and solvent cleaning to analytical testing.
- A chamber that evaporates water from cleaned components through heated air.
- A substance used to slow the chemical reaction that causes rust.
- A cleaning process that utilizes at least two solvents to achieve the cleaning and rinsing. The action of cleaning results from the combination of the characteristics of each solvent involved, which are selected for the greatest optimization of the system in relation to the particular contaminants involved.
- A solvent or combined material for removing grease, oils, or fat from substrates.
- Water that has enhanced purity resulting from the elimination of ionic species.
- A solution that is a combination of surfactants comprised of both hydrophobic and hydrophilic material for making grease and oil water soluble. Cleaning is actually done when the soil attaches to the hydrophobic group and when the detergent soil mixture is emulsified in the water; the detergent's cleaning capabilities are increased through the addition of builders or other additives.
- Solvent cleaners that have an insoluble aqueous level that is typically utilized along with paint strippers; when combined with denser chlorinated solvents, the water becomes the upper level.
- This material enhances the stability of particles emulsified in a liquid-solid or liquid-liquid suspension and is also known as an emulsifying agent.
- The creation of micelles in a cleaning procedure resulting from the dispersal of liquid or solid globules or fine particles into a bulk liquid.
- A device that circulates large amounts of solution in the tanks.
- Cleaning the cleansing solution and trapping the contaminants so the solution can be used for a longer period and so the components being cleansed don't retain any of the soil or particulates.
- A surfactant molecule that results in the proclivity of the molecule to be water soluble.
- A water resistant substance.
- Also known as cold cleaning, it is the cleaning that takes place in a tank, usually of a rectangular shape, using an aqueous solution. The cleaning is done primarily through soaking in a water chemical solution.
- Additives that impede harmful chemical reactions between an aqueous cleaner and a substrate. Inhibitors typically retard the corrosion process of non-ferrous substrates in high pH or iron.
- The use of mechanical energy via a circulation pump to circulate cleaning solution, effective for components with flat surfaces or those that have a simple configuration.
- An amalgamation of solutions with both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties that trap non-water soluble oils. Dispersal of detergents and other surfactants results in micelles.
- The use of nozzles to aim air at specific areas of a component for water removal.
- To flood the washed components with clean water or a rinse solution.
- A binding agent that prevents chemical reactions.
- A substance's capability to dissolve within another substance, usually a solid in water. Quantification is in grams per liter, and the general classifications for material solubility are fully soluble, partially soluble, slightly soluble and insoluble.
- In cleaning systems, a liquid substance that cleans a part by dissolving the surface contaminants.
- Heavy soils that sink to the bottom of an aqueous solution.
- Allowing components to rest in cleaning solution so chemicals can "lift" the dirt.
- In reference to industrial part washing, any item with contaminant or soil on it that is being exposed to a cleaning process.
- An abbreviation of "surface active agent," it is a common additive for lowering the surface tension between an aqueous cleaning solution and hydrophobic soils in order to loosen the soil or other contaminants. Detergents are principally composed of surfactants.
- Organic compounds that occur naturally and are usually found in essential oils. Utilized as cleaning agents in semi-aqueous cleaners, they come from natural sources like citrus fruit or pine trees.
- A process that is particularly useful for evaporation of water at a relatively cool temperature. A vacuum pump is used to dry the product.
- An up-and-down movement of components to allow cleaning solution to remove contaminants; vertical part agitation is effective for parts with cavities.
- Soiled water from the cleansing process.