How Ultrasonic Cleaning Eliminates Harmful Solvents in Aerospace Cleaning

Cleaning with solvents is something nearly every maintenance operation does, from using a spray-on cleaner for electronic components to soaking metal parts in degreasing compound. But as environmental concerns become a greater part of the business equation and the need to cut costs mounts, is there a better method?

There is. Ultrasonic cleaning not only delivers better quality results, it can make your shop greener, safer and less costly to run by eliminating harmful solvents. Let’s first examine the problems solvents cause, then look at how ultrasonic cleaning solves those issues.

Solvents usually require additional cleaning work

Only the most caustic solvents will remove all the grime on components. Additional work by employees or a machine, such as hand scrubbing or spray washing, will cost time and labor.

Many solvents present a danger to employees

At a minimum, most industrial solvents will present a danger to a worker’s skin and eyes, and there may be issues with fumes.

Solvents are often costly to purchase

The cost for the actual solvent may not rank among your greatest expenses, but it can be significant over time. This will be especially true if you use solvents designed to meet green targets.

Solvents may have a high disposal cost

Solvents are usually classified as hazardous waste unless they have a flashpoint above 140 degrees, and as such are expensive to dispose of. Those formulas which are less hazardous also tend to be less effective, which will drive up the costs from additional cleaning. Plus, your state may classify your solvent as “special waste” or some other category and require special handling anyway.

Efforts to preserve your solvent may backfire

The higher the base cost of the solvent and the disposal expense are, the greater the incentive to preserve each batch as long as possible. The problem? Each action to help preserve batches—whether it’s more hand cleaning, filtration, longer soaking, etc.—increases costs elsewhere. In the long run, this may end up costing more than you save. Additionally, if the effort to preserve it goes on too long, the medium may become ineffective, leaving you with a batch of components that needs to be re-cleaned.

So, how does ultrasonic cleaning eliminate these concerns?

Cavitation means you’ll need no additional cleaning work

Ultrasonic cleaning occurs when the sound waves cause microscopic bubbles to form on the surface of the item being cleaned. The wave action also causes the bubbles to collapse. As they do, the liquid rushing into the space blasts contaminants off the surface.

Because the bubbles are microscopic and reach everywhere liquid can reach, additional scrubbing or spraying will not be necessary. Every contaminant on every surface will be removed by ultrasonic cavitation, usually in about five to seven minutes.

Simple detergents are safe and have a much lower cost

Ultrasonic cleaning requires the use of a detergent to facilitate moving contaminants away from the surface being cleaned, but these detergents are quite mild and cost a fraction of what you will pay for organic or petroleum-based solvents. That means no danger to employees, no safety equipment and no safety compliance costs. In addition, since cavitation (not the detergent itself) is doing the heavy lifting, you’ll use much less detergent compared to solvent.

There are no major disposal costs with the typical ultrasonic cleaning bath

A water mix with a mild detergent won’t qualify as a hazardous waste or have any properties making it dangerous to the environment. That means you’ll save the cost of hazardous waste disposal fees.

Frequent changes have a lower cost, so they become a best practice

When both the cleaning medium and disposal of it come with a minimal cost, there’s no need to take actions intended to stretch out its effective life. This can save you labor costs, filtration maintenance and rework, just to name a few possible costs.

The ability of ultrasonic cleaning to remove grime of any type from even inaccessible surfaces makes it the go-to cleaning technology for any technical operation, and eliminating solvents from the equation will save you costs and headaches in the short and long runs. If you’d like to learn more about eliminating harsh chemicals with an ultrasonic cleaning setup, get in touch with us today.

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