Tips to Clean Your Parts
The cleaning process is essential to getting your parts just right. No matter how you machine your part, there is no way to prevent it from coming out coated with cutting fluid residue or covered with some amount of swarf. Depending on the next step in the machining process and your customer’s expectations, a specific amount of cleaning will be necessary. Here are a few tips that will help you get great results while making the process easier and more efficient.
Dirt, or to be more specific contaminants, can generally fall into one of the two following categories:
- insoluble contaminants
- soluble contaminants
Insoluble contaminants, aka swarf, can’t be dissolved using cleaning products. This type of dirt will have to be removed manually.
Soluble contaminants, on the other hand, require less physical work and a more cautious selection of the products and equipment that will dissolve dirt.
Removing soluble contaminants
As the name suggests, soluble contaminants are little particles that can be dissolved by or mixed with a solvent so that they can be rinsed away. Cutting oil and coolant are some examples of soluble contaminants.
The standard way is to clean parts by hand using a lint-free rag and a good solvent. We recommend using one of these common solvents:
- WD-40 Specialist Industrial-Strength Cleaner & Degreaser
- Simple Green Crystal Industrial Cleaner/Degreaser
In cases of high-volume production, cleaning parts manually might not be the most suitable idea. The best solution is immersion cleaning, a form of batch-cleaning that involves submerging parts in a liquid cleaning agent.
Let your parts soak for about 10 minutes and then rinse and dry them.
For an even more accurate cleanup, we recommend using an ultrasonic cleaner, The high-frequency sound waves produced by the machine create small bubbles in the cleaning liquid that collapse, releasing considerable energy. Ultrasonic waves can penetrate thin layers of metal and get into corners to clean workpieces inside and out.
Ultrasonic cleaners need to be used carefully, especially when dealing with aluminum. You should never leave parts inside for more than a few minutes. Make sure to keep the temperature of the liquid below 150°F and never place anything directly on the bottom of the tank.
After you let your parts soak for 5 minutes, remember to rinse them thoroughly as the cleaner doesn’t flush the dirt away, it only lifts it from the surface.
A successful cleaning process requires careful selection of both the cleaning solution and equipment. While this information won’t make you an expert, hopefully, it will enable you to better understand the process and how to achieve optimal results.