What’s the Best Cleaning Method?

How many times have you asked, “What’s the best cleaning method?” Most likely, more times than you may be willing to readily admit without creating a furrowed brow or other visible sign of discontent. More often than not, you probably received a highly complex response that thrashed around operating parameters, rack or barrel, tank construction, bath make-up …and the list goes on.

This same question has been and continues to be posed to Team Asterion on numerous occasions. The good news is that there is a simple answer when water soluble-based oils are used in the manufacturing process. No long lecture, crystal balls, or hypotheticals. The answer…

The absolute best means of cleaning a part is to stop it from getting dirty in the first place.

So how do we do that?

  • If water soluble oil is employed in the manufacturing process, water can be used to dilute the oil. This is beneficial in two ways; you use less oil and cleaner. Note: Not all oils are water soluble. Therefore, it is important to confirm oil type with the oil manufacturer. Much like a salad dressing, insoluble oils will separate.
  • Once you have confirmed that the oil is water soluble, testing should be undertaken to determine how dilute you should go. I recommend starting with a 50% water-to-oil mix for starters and then make any further adjustments from there. Less oil on the part means less oil in the soak cleaner. As soak cleaner life is directly tied to the amount of oil in the bath, less oil results in an extended bath life.
  • It’s not uncommon that parts are shipped in oil filled totes. This is usually done for rust prevention. But why are companies so willing to throw money away in the name of preventing rust? Truth be told, a small coating of oil over the surface of the part will ensure the part does not rust prior to plating. Of course, if you are shipping raw parts across the ocean, then plenty of oil in the totes and on the parts makes sense. But if you are shipping them a town over, it isn’t necessary. Again, less oil and cleaner are consumed cleaning the oil off.
  • Important: If the oil is not water soluble, your options are more limited. We recommend evaluating ways to reduce oil consumption in the manufacturing process, thereby achieving cost savings on both oil and cleaners.

The above recommendations involve close communication with the parts manufacturer. If you are a captive shop, this is easily accomplished by taking a short walk down to the plant manager’s office. However if you’re a job shop, it can sometimes be more challenging. Asterion stands ready to facilitate these discussions to ensure parts are cleaned and plated to the most stringent requirements.

For further information, contact us today!