By Bruce Boyers for Omega Ultrasonics Inc..
Edited by Bruce Vernyi, Editor-in-Chief, American Machinist
Manufacturers of metal products have struggled with parts cleaning prior to assembly or finishing, and they have used many methods that have one thing in common: Parts cleaning tends tend to be labor-intensive, and usually requires one or more full-time workers.
For such produces as high-end wheels, motorcycles and, even, customized silver western wear, attention to detail is important, so companies have performed the work that is needed to produce high-quality products.
Now, ultrasonic cleaning is proving to be a cost-effective process that delivers consistent quality with reduced labor.
Ultrasonic parts washing has become the next step in industrial manufacturing, reducing time and labor while providing a better job of cleaning, and improving the bottom line.
Ultrasonic tanks use sound vibrations, hot water and engineered soaps, and can be used to clean a broad range of products and parts.
Further, ultrasonic cleaning eliminates the toxic chemicals that are used in other methods of parts cleaning.
The parts cleaning tanks vary in size to handle any job: from large steel tanks for degreasing large automotive parts to small table top washers.
HRE Wheels produces wheels used on automobiles that range from Mercedes to Aston-Martin and Bentley. The company’s threepiece creations are a result of its focus on materials, engineering and manufacturing methods that evolved over 30 years.
Product quality for these wheels must be perfect, and the company felt parts cleaning put its quality in jeopardy.
“We used to count on outside finish vendors to clean the parts prior to finishing,” Chad Carnevale, mechanical engineer, said.
“Some cleaned them, but most didn’t, and it caused huge problems. There would be dirt and impurities underneath the clear-coat, and we would get returns.” The company would then have to refinish the wheels at its own cost.
Carnevale said the company discovered the ultrasonic cleaning provided by Omegasonics (www.omegasonics.com).
The Omegasonics system has dual tanks for wheel components that have to be polished, and rid the parts of machining oils and polishing media. After the ultrasonic cleaning, the parts go off for finishing such as chrome, clear-coat or painting, and are assembled into finished wheels.
Carnevale said returns have been dramatically reduced since his company moved to ultrasonic cleaning.
Gist Silversmiths has been crafting custom gold and silver western wear, catering to the worldwide rodeo circuit and other customers since 1968.
Much of the company’s product line consists of customized belt buckles, but it also makes jewelry and show-quality bits, spurs, and riding accessories.
Gist Silversmiths’ product quality must be perfect, and cleaning the polishing compound from its finished product was a laborious process for the company.
“We used to use a soap tank, with what was basically a hyped up dishwashing solution,” John Wanninger, chief engineer with Gist Silversmiths, said.
The soap bath was followed by manual brushing, then steam cleaning, and it required five minutes per buckle. Two of seven polishers usually would be assigned to cleaning full time for this process.
Then Wanninger discovered the ultrasonic cleaning.
“I found Omegasonics online,” he said.
Omegasonics made a custom tank to hold the product racks Gist Silversmiths had, and labor for parts cleaning was reduced by 99 percent. Cleaning time was reduced from the 5 minutes per buckle to 30 seconds for 10 buckles, and one part-time employee could perform the work. After cleaning in the ultrasonic tank, the products only need a simple steam cleaning to be completed.
Fasst Company manufactures parts for racing motorcycles, and is well known for its Flexx handlebars and its adjustable and preset torque wrenches.
“We use a bonding agent on some of our parts,” Cole Townsend, president of Fasst, said.
“It’s critical that we have the surfaces clean. We used to use a few different methods of cleaning, including kerosene and paint thinner (but) they were messy (and) time consuming, and the fluids always got contaminated quickly,” Townsend said.
It also took considerable time to get the job done. Fasst now accomplished in 30 seconds with ultrasonic cleaning what used to take 5 minutes.
For further information, contact Omegasonics at its website or at 805-583-0875.