Industrial washers are parts washing equipment that use methods such as water, ultrasonic blasts, agitation, and aqueous chemical solutions to effectively clean parts. It is possible to design these washers to function as a multi-stage process that encompasses cleaning, deburring, drying, surface treating, and powder coating all in one. There are other pieces of parts washing equipment that function as an aqueous, single-step parts washing tub. Other types of industrial parts washers utilize non-aqueous solutions, such as vibration cleaning, laser ablation, acoustic cleaning, and vapor cleaning when aqueous cleaning is not appropriate or possible.
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Applications of Industrial Washers
Until recently, the majority of aqueous parts washing solutions have been chemical based. However, new regulations regarding the safety of workers and the environment have been on the rise. These regulations have led manufacturers to use organic solvents much more frequently. Another method of parts cleaning that has been increasing in popularity is ultrasonic cleaning. Ultrasonic cleaning is a new and innovative method that significantly cuts down on costly and harmful waste, because ultrasonic cleaners require only a fraction of the amount of solvent concentrations that traditional parts washers use. Ultrasonic cleaners use tiny air blasts against the parts’ surface. These air blasts enable the machine to effectively clean crevices that other cleaners cannot reach. Ultrasonic cleaning is used by various industries whose products have little to no tolerance for parts contamination, such as the automotive industry.
Manufacturing automotive parts requires the utmost precision. Contaminants such as shavings, oil, grease, and foreign chemicals can be a costly hindrance to the smooth operation of machinery, and at the very worst, a danger to those who operate them. Industrial washers are capable of thoroughly cleaning parts and saving money. Therefore, industrial washers are a necessity in the process of manufacturing quality parts. Other industries for which industrial parts washers are essential include electronics, dental, surgical, and medical parts washing.
Before parts can undergo surface finishing, their surfaces need to be rid of burrs, oils, chemicals, and residue left over by various fabrication processes. Furthermore, if a part has grease or contaminating dirt on its surface, coatings such as electroplating and zinc cannot be applied effectively. Therefore, in order to effectively prepare a quantity of industrial parts for distribution, assembly, or surface treatment, manufacturers use industrial washers to clean, degrease, and sometimes dry them.
How Industrial Washers Work
Fundamentally, in a parts cleaning device, there are cold cleaning units, vapor and conveyorized degreasers, solution reservoirs, filtration systems, and sometimes, and an inbuilt vacuuming or suction pump. Aqueous parts washers use water-based solutions, and other high-end industrial cleaners use petroleum-based solutions to perform the laundering. A solution that has been prepared for a cycle should be spent, or the remaining will be considered as waste. And, this waste should be disposed of properly, to ensure the safety of the workers and the environment.
Industrial parts washers clean parts using two methods:
- Immersion Washing
- This process is also known as agitation, and involves placing the unfinished parts in a wire mesh basket and immersing them in a heated chemical or organic water-based solvent. Once immersed, the basket turns, rotates, and shakes the parts until the dirt and contaminants are removed. These machines can have a simple setup, only featuring a single tub where parts are placed or removed. They could also consist of a series of tubs that utilize various solutions for washing, rinsing, and treating, along with a series of automated arms that move the baskets from one tub to the next.
- Spray Washing
- Spray washers remove dirt, paint, mud, grease, oil, and other contaminants from parts by applying solutions to the parts with high velocities. Different spray washers are made for different types of parts washing. These different types of spray washers include pallet and dunnage washers, rotary tumblers, monorail and overhead systems, conveyor belt washers, cell washers, and cabinet washers. Some types of parts washers use varying pressures depending on the products being put through the process. High pressure and high water temperatures are used for the toughest of jobs and get the job done quickly.
- However, other products may have contaminants that do not require as much pressure to be removed, and they may even be more susceptible to damage. Therefore, lower pressure levels may be utilized. Spray washers do not use immersion to clean their parts. Rather, they use a nozzle to target a certain section of a part. Products move through some spray washing machines by way of a conveyor belt, where nozzles are placed in a certain position to accurately remove contaminants from the parts. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the machine’s operator to correctly position the nozzles so all contaminants are effectively removed.
The Importance of Industrial Parts Cleaning
Parts cleaning is like a pretreatment for the pieces of process equipment that industries use to manufacture their products. However, washing is not the only step in pretreatment; full-service cleaning also includes deburring, brushing, painting, and procedures. Carrying out these pre-production routines ensures that the parts, along with the machine, are performing their duties as expected.
Cleaning machine parts is an important part of industrial machine maintenance. It involves removing oils, grease, dust, paint coating, cutting fluids, inks, and pollutants such as carbon, metal chips, corrosion, and other elements that hinder the smooth operation of machines. Part washer machines are a crucial part of every industrial application. Playing an imperative role in manufacturing and remanufacturing facilities, machine part washing systems are specifically designed to clean and prepare industrial appliances for rerun. Sometimes, part washers are referred as pressure washers; however, both these machines have a significant difference regarding their features and application.
Benefits of Using Parts Cleaning
Regular and proper parts cleaning minimizes costs, reduces the frequency of parts replacement and repair, improves performance of the motor, and curbs waste of fuel and material. By installing an agitating or automatic parts washer, you can increasingly meet your production demands, while keeping your product quality constant. Parts cleaning also ensures that your machine achieves an enhanced production tolerance, meaning you can work on large production lots without putting any stress on the machine.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Part Washing System
Here are a few questions that should be answered before selecting a part washing system:
- Which machine parts need to be cleaned?
- How are the parts contained?
- What is the shape of the machine or part?
- Do these parts really need washing?
- Which parts do not need cleaning?
- Which cleaning process or part washer system will be suitable for cleaning?
If we focus on contaminants, there could be various factors that will need in-depth cleaning and require different cleaning methods.
The parts could contain such contaminants as:
- Old Coating
- Metal Fluids
To ensure the safety and endurance of your machines, it is vital to source high quality parts washing systems. For this, you will need to find a trusted supplier or manufacturer. Most importantly, you will need to check that you are buying the right machine, for which, you will have to take suggestions from your process engineers.
Managing Parts Washer Waste
Parts washers are an integral component in industrial maintenance operations. These devices help in cleaning the dust and rust that collection the surface of machine parts during production and off-production routines. Industrial parts cleaning systems may seem rather unimportant, but these machines can help you in defining your production goals and meeting your customers’ expectations. Therefore, keeping your parts cleaning equipment well maintained should be high on your priority list.
By ensuring on-time maintenance for automatic parts washers, you can increase the performance of your process equipment while controlling your surplus outlays. However, one aspect of parts washing can seem overwhelming—namely, waste production. Waste affects machine efficiency and eventually causes overall reductions in performance and production output. Reducing the production of waste is crucial in controlling production time and costs.
Here are some ways to manage the waste of your parts washer:
- Increase the Life of the Cleaning Solution
- You cannot completely control the production of waste. However, you can surely increase the life of the solution used in your cleaning processes. There are numerous ways to achieve this objective. One, use least toxic elements in your chemical cleaning solution. Highly toxic solutions can improve cleaning, but they could have an adverse effect on your workers and on the environment. Therefore, less toxic and thoroughly tested materials should be your investment. For this, you should check the MSDS chemical security label. Less toxic means less hazardous. Always test the toxicity of cleaning solutions before putting them to use.
- Use a Non-Ignitable Cleaner
- The second method to increase the life of the solution and reduce the waste is to employ a solution that shows an ignitable tendency above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. You could ask your suppliers to provide a cleaner that has such a high flash point.
- Select Aqueous Cleaners Versus Petroleum-Based Solvents
- Petroleum-based cleaners are highly inflammable; however, they are effective at cleaning machine parts. But, they cannot be reused and continuously degrade as they are used in parts cleaning.
- Source Aqueous Cleaners with Built-In Filters and Oil Skimmers
- Aqueous parts cleaners use heat and detergent-based solutions to remove contaminants from parts. Parts cleaning machines that come with an innate filter and oil skimmer can more easily filter the pollutants and remove oily and greasy elements, giving the cleaning solution an extended life.