Buff Wheel Cleaning

Compound Cleaning

Compound Cleaning: Compound is made so that it sticks to the buff and to the part being buffed. But when the buffing is done and the part is shiny, the compound needs to be cleaned off. This is never as important as when the part needs to be plated after buffing. If the compound residue is not fully cleaned from the part then a spot or a stain can become visible on the plated surface and ruin an otherwise beautiful finish. In more severe situations the residue can produce blisters causing the plating to actually peal off the part.

For many years cleaning compound meant being as aggressive as possible - using cleaners like Chlorinated Solvents such as Methyl Chloroform (1,1,1,- trichloroethane). But many of the solvents have health risks and are severely restricted by the EPA and OSHA. Over the last decade most production cleaning systems have switched to the more environmentally friendly alkaline based cleaning systems. If these systems are properly balanced they can be just as effective as the solvent systems. Assuming the time is limited in a constrained production system there are three areas to balance:

Balancing an Alkaline Cleaning System

Compound Cleaning
  • Chemistry- The chemistry is generally created through cleaners that increase pH (often 8 to 12). The higher the pH the more aggressive the cleaning. Depending on the base metal the pH may be limited and the other parts of the cleaning system need to be enhanced to balance the system.
  • Agitation- The idea is to create turbulence around the part to help remove the residue faster. This may be accomplished by simply moving the parts up and down while submerged in the tank. It is also common to use spray systems, under-water jets or ultra sonic cells. Ultra sonic cleaning is unique in that the sound waves can move through the part to help remove residue from blind holes that direct agitation could not reach. When tuned properly, the sounds waves from Ultra Sonic Units produce air bubbles which collapse through cavitaion focusing an intense energy to clean the surface of the part.
  • Temperature- It is very difficult to clean a part in a cleaning tank unless the residue is melted. It is important that the temperature of the bath is several degrees higher than the melt point of the binders making up the residue.

The above pictures show two different compound samples subjected to the same cleaners (same time and temperature as well) in an ultra sonic bath. This example shows that changing the compound formulation can have a large impact on how easily the compound is removed in the cleaning cycle. We can also use lower temperature binders to better melt in the tanks; we can even add some cleaners directly to the compound. Call Schaffner Manufacturing to find out how to best match the compound to your cleaning system. It is important to know that small change in the compound can make big changes in the cleaners' ability to clean the compound effectively.

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Schaffner Manufacturing was awarded the coveted Collaboration Award from Spectrum Brands last month.