Original Date: 06/02/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Optimization of Cleaning Baths
Various factors can reduce the effectiveness and lifespan of cleaning baths. Typical cleaning bath solutions consist of hydrochloric acid mixed with high-strength detergents. As the primary ingredient, hydrochloric acid can promote fuming and the etching of product parts. Oil build-up during the cleaning process and the deterioration of the cleaning bath’s barrel can also be sources of contamination to the cleaning solution. Drag-in from other processing tanks, as well as tainted cleaning solutions, can reduce the lifespan of the cleaning baths. Sharretts Plating Company has developed and implemented numerous innovations to optimize its cleaning baths and solutions.
After analyzing alternative cleaning solutions (including heavily-regulated toxic chemicals), Sharretts developed a safe, environmentally-compatible solution to meet its needs. A cleaner, consisting of biodegradable non-toxic acids, detergents, penetrants, stabilizers, and other harmless additives, is mixed with a mildly-alkaline detergent that cleans and degreases. The new cleaning bath solution eliminates the fuming and etching problems associated with hydrochloric acid-based solutions. Sharretts has implemented its new solution in all cleaning processes which formerly used hydrochloric acid-based cleaning solutions.
To reduce oil build-up during the cleaning process, Sharretts installed an auxiliary oil removal system to its cleaning baths. The system skims the oil contamination from the cleaning solution while the bath is in use. By removing the oil on a real-time basis, Sharretts reduced the need to replenish the cleaning solution and increased the lifespan of the cleaning bath.
Custom-designed barrels are now being used in Sharretts’ cleaning baths. The improved design has virtually eliminated the loss of parts in the baths as a source for contamination, and increased the lifespan of cleaning baths and other processing tanks. In addition, Sharretts has increased the dwell times over its processing tanks prior to the cleaning baths. Increased dwell times reduce the contaminant amounts carried from the processing tanks to the cleaning baths; improve the process control and productivity of the entire line; and increase the lifespan of the cleaning baths.
Through innovative improvements, Sharretts has optimized its cleaning baths. Benefits from these improvements include extending the lifespan of cleaning baths, using environmentally-safe solutions, eliminating problems associated with hydrochloric acid-based solutions, and reducing hazardous waste accumulation.
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