How to Implement Ambient Temperature Cleaning

Q. How can we find an ambient temperature spray cleaner to implement for our five-stage pretreatment line used prior to powder coating? Cleaning expert David Peterson has the answer. 


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Q. How can we find an ambient temperature spray cleaner to implement for our five-stage pretreatment line used prior to powder coating?

A. Lower and ambient temperature cleaners came to the industry about 30 years ago with an interest in energy conservation, enabled by research done on low-temperature surfactants.

he use of low-temperature surfactants is one of the key components for successful cleaning at lower temperatures. If a standard aqueous cleaner intended for a heated tank were used at ambient temperatures, the results would not be good. Some of the ingredients may start to precipitate from solution and the surfactant package would not be very effective.  

The cleaner would need to have a low enough builder content such that it stays in solution at room temperature. Additionally, the surfactant package would need to be specific for use at room temperature. Nonionic surfactants would have cloud points close to or slightly below room temperature to be effective. I would recommend contacting your current chemical supplier and discussing available options with them. If they do not have alternatives, you could review other pretreatment suppliers at PFonline.com. 

The last possibility is that the lubricant has a very inexpensive lard base that contains a significant amount of animal fatty acids. A production run of this may be enough to upset the chemistry of the line for a while. In this case, it may be worth moving to a slightly more expensive, but better metalworking lubricant.


Originally published in the August 2017 issue.