Choosing A Cleaner

After a recent switch to the new source of sheet metal, we now have adhesion problems which, I believe, seem to be related to cleaning. To correct this problem my metal supplier suggested we switch to a different cleaner chemical, and I agree with him. What are the principal considerations in the choice of a cleaner?


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Q. I am the Manager of Manufacturing for a metal fabricating plant. We use tons of sheet metal. As a cost cutting move, we switched to a new sheet metal supplier. That’s when the problem started.
Our plant has been using an iron phosphate metal pretreatment successfully for several years. Because we monitor and maintain the chemical solutions, we get consistent results. After the recent switch to the new source of sheet metal, the results have been erratic. We now have adhesion problems which, I believe, seem to be related to cleaning. To correct this problem my metal supplier suggested we switch to a different cleaner chemical, and I agree with him. What are the principal considerations in the choice of a cleaner? E. O.

 

A. The principal considerations in the choice of a metal cleaner in a pretreatment system are detergency, foaming durability, soil retention and sensitivity to metals. It would seem difficult to choose one of the host of cleaners available. This is often compounded by the synergistic effect between a cleaner and a particular phosphate chemical.

Practically speaking, you must first determine how well a cleaner will remove the soil from your substrate with little or no foaming. Next, you must determine how long the cleaner is effective before additions or dumping is required. Then, you must determine how much soil will be retained before splitting out occurs. Finally, you must know if the cleaner is sensitive to the mix of metals you process in your system. A trial run is often necessary to prove out the performance of candidate cleaners. By your comments above, I know you don’t have the “pig in a poke” syndrome. 

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