Solvent washing and vapor degreasing system: 5 aspects to consider

The choice of including vapor degreasing phase in its solvent washing system offers a greater possibility of controlling the quality of the cleaning of the metal parts treated, thus allowing to comply with the defined industrial standards.

Considering the versatility in the size and configuration of the metal components, the ability to treat high volumes in an automated way and the lower operating costs, vapor degreasing represents a truly effective solution in terms of effectively managing the cleaning requirements of the parts.

In solvent cleaning systems, the choice to adopt vapor degreasing is justified by 5 important advantages: let’s see them together.

# 1: Large amounts of components to wash

In a relatively short washing cycle, and in the presence of a substantial quantity of metal components to be treated, the vapor degreasing systems guarantee quality washing results.
In fact, the solvent used is not mixed with other chemicals and in fact it does not require constant monitoring of concentration levels or the addition of other cleaning agents.
The size of the load can be adapted to the required production volume and, thanks to the automatic loading of components, operators are free to carry out other tasks.

# 2: Cleaning goals and cleaning standards met

In solvent-based systems, vapor degreasing meets the industrial standards of many sectors in terms of component cleaning, for example aerospace where the metal parts must comply with military standards or the medical one where final cleaning levels must be very high.

# 3: More effective washing of parts with complex geometry

When we talk about parts characterized by a complex geometry we refer to pipes, coils and metal profiles.
The fact of working in an environment characterized by a vacuum condition allows the cleaning agent to reach all the deepest cavities and corners by removing parts of oil and other fluid contaminants.

# 4: Corrosion issue removed

If among the cleaning requirements of the parts to be treated we find “complete drying and absence of corrosion”, vapor degreasing is absolutely essential. . In this washing cycle, the final drying phase also takes place under vacuum: while the hot air blowing systems will dry only the surface, a vacuum pump will ensure complete evaporation of the solvents even in the presence of components with complex geometry.

# 5: Better management of operational costs and ROI

In general, the return on investment (ROI) of a vapor degreaser is excellent.

The increased productivity, enhanced part cleaning consistency, and increased worker safety combined with reduced maintenance and labor can deliver significant cost savings.

Making a comparison with water washing systems, we realize that the savings associated with a lower initial investment are quickly recovered due to:

  • the expected high operating costs;
  • expenses related to more complex maintenance needs.

In a vapor degreasing machine, on the other hand, the solvent is continuously regenerated and reused, moreover:

  • operator interventions are less thanks to the numerous automated processes;
  • energy consumption is reduced;
  • the maintenance activity required by the system is very minimal.

The return on investment of a vapor degreaser can be significant.

Water or solvent washing systems: it all depends on the specific washing needs

The solvents used for washing metal components are normally compatible with most materials, perfect for those companies that work with different types of plastics, ceramics, steel, aluminum and much more.

Certainly the same cannot be said of water washing systems, where the detergent must be chosen on the basis of the components treated.

At this point the question arises: how to choose between a water and a solvent washing system?

It all depends on the requirements in terms of washing quality.

In those sectors where the quality requirements are increasingly higher (see medical or aerospace) and there are standards to be respected (see the automotive sector with the VDA-19 or ISO 16232 standard), to obtain optimal cleaning results it is necessary to start from the type of dirt:

  1. contaminants in the form of particles;
  2. contaminants that create a film on the surface of the metal parts.

Water-based washing agents have a density of about 1g / ml, while solvents can have a higher or lower density: “heavier” washing agents are more effective
in the removal of particles that cannot easily dissolve.

This introduces the concept of surface tension, i.e. that required to clean the surface of metal parts.

For example, a higher surface tension is required for the detection of lesions than for painting.

The capacity of the washing agent must be adequate for the required surface tension: in the case of precision washing, the reference value ranges from 38 mN / m to about 60 mN / m.

This requirement is met equally by both water-based and solvent-based cleaners.

It is important to remember that in water washing systems residues and contaminants remain in the absence of specific procedures and / or purification systems and the quality of the final wash depends on the number of rinsing baths.

The higher the demands in terms of washing quality, the greater the investment required: the validity of the cleaning result will depend on the properties of the chosen agent (density, polarity, surface tension, solvent power and viscosity), as well as its ability to transport residues.

Find out more about our solvent cleaning systems and request a comparison with FIRBIMATIC consultants!