ACI AG’s QuattroClean Used for Dry Selective Cleaning in the Metal Cutting Industry

Fully-automated inline cleaning system for machined precision parts.

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QuattroClean from ACI AG is an inline and fully-automated cleaning cell designed to be integrated into a production line in the smallest of spaces or used as a stand-alone device. Components can be advanced into the machine using any common automation system. Standardized interfaces enable easy integration of the serial system controller into a master computer and all relevant process parameters are recorded and stored automatically, or sent to the master computer as required.

Available in three different sizes, the new cleaning cell carries out a dry, selective cleaning step on the surface to be measured, either in the one-piece flow of the production line or in a rotary indexing table. Tailored to specific application requirements, the cell is fitted with a CO2 snow-jet system from acp, a Germany-based company belonging to the ACI Group. The environmentally neutral cleaning technology uses liquid carbon dioxide as a medium, which is generated as a by-product from chemical processes and from generating energy with biomass.

Liquid carbon dioxide is guided through the two-component ring nozzle of the acp system where it expands upon exiting to form fine snow crystals, which are then bundled by a jacketed jet and accelerated to supersonic speed. A combination of thermal, mechanical, sublimation and solvent mechanisms take place as the jet impacts at minus 78.5°C on the surface to be cleaned. These four mechanisms enable the quattroClean system to remove film-like contaminants, such as residues of cooling lubricants, processing oils and polishing paste or particulate contaminants, such as chips, flaky burrs and dust. At the same time, the low degree of hardness of the snow crystals makes sure even sensitive and finely-structured surfaces are cleaned gently.

The detached contaminants are instantly carried away from the component surface. Together with the gaseous sublimated carbon dioxide, the contaminants are removed from the cleaning cell by an integrated suction unit. On completion of the cleaning process, parts are completely dry and can be measured immediately.

The quattroClean system is used by Mahle GmbH to clean the lateral surfaces of engine pistons in an inline process prior to their optical measurement. Parts are handled by a robot which places the pistons both in the cleaning cell and later in the measuring system. To do this, the robot is fitted with two grippers—one for contaminated parts and one for cleaned parts. To avoid measurement errors, parts are re-tempered after cleaning. The quattroClean system operates in the one-piece flow of the production line and is capable of cleaning 11 cm2/sec.

To determine the exact process parameters required for each application, material property and type of contamination, like volume flow of compressed air and carbon dioxide as well as blasting time cleaning tests are performed. This enables the quattroClean system to be adapted for use in coating, assembly and packaging lines as well as in conjunction with other processes where clean surfaces are required. Depending on the task at hand, ACI also designs cleaning cells for cleanroom use. In order to perform cleaning tests under cleanroom conditions, ACI has its own application center with an ISO Class 7 cleanroom (which can be adapted to ISO Class 6 if required). Equipment is also available for determining cleanliness levels before and after cleaning.

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