Winning the War on Filth Part 1

Frustrated yet? I know I am.

Over the last few years I have seen an increased number of parts showing up on my clients plating lines with  more soils than ever before.  This list includes stamping and machining oils as well as lubricants, rp’s, and coolants. The part that frustrates me is that the soils I am seeing day after day are typically not new synthetics or reformulated petroleum based products. Instead, these are the same products that have been used for years, but now are used in quantities far greater than needed. Since it appears nobody can protect our process lines from the onslaught of abuse by these outside, out of our control contaminants, how do we effectively clean them?

Here are a few processes we have found that work to enhance your existing pretreatment process. Win the chemical war on these soils by opening your process to more production opportunities. These opportunities have a small increase to costs (typically a decrease in cost), or minimal capital investment that is quickly recuperated with increased business opportunities.

First we try to fortify the existing process with drop-in additives.  This typically works for the camouflaged enemy that sneaks into my client’s facilities under the cloak of the general name of “oil”.  These challenges are related to a film on the surface from lubricants, r.p.’s, or coolants.  We have developed new soak additives designed to address both water soluble and animal fat based soils.  These improvements are able to handle temperature changes and still attack a soil, or provide additional oil removing power without increasing alkalinity.

Second, if necessary, we might change the base chemistry to beef up the cleaning ability of the process my clients already run. I am finding it’s time to upgrade the cleaner to keep up with the soil change; the traditional “robust, powerful” soak cleaner isn’t designed to remove these soils which require a more calculated, multiple ingredient cleaner attack.

Finally, I have encountered soils that require additional “soak cleaning” power, but the line design or production demands refuse to allow for more time in the soak cleaner.  In these cases, we have found using uniquely designed electrocleaners and/or acid additives to provide the additional cleaning needed to remove all the soil and prepare the surface for the finishing step.  Sometimes, a line re-design is the best fix. Until the funds are raised to pay for it, perhaps a drop in replacement in a post soak cleaning step may be the short term fix to allow production to pay for the line re-design.

Dealing with a wide variety of constantly changing soils can make running any metal finishing process exceptionally frustrating. But with our wide variety of targeted cleaning chemistry we can fight the many front battle required to produce parts that can be cleaned and plated. It is not easy, but if we work together with our clients, we can win the war on metal finishing filth.