The Fabricator/March 2007
Many manufacturers, large and small, are now discovering a great labor, time and toxic-solvent saving device: the ultrasonic tank.
For many manufacturers parts cleaning traditionally calls for dedicated labor and toxic solvents, which often require special handling and disposal. Tube fabricator Eaton Aerospace of Jackson, Mich., was no different.
The company produces stainless steel, carbon steel and titanium tubing for conveying air, oil, water and coolant in aircraft and marine vehicles. Straight tubing arrives at the factory in diameters ranging from 0.75 in. to 3 in., and then the tubing is fabricated into complex shapes. Tube sections are cut to length and bent with lubricated mandrels, which are inserted into tubes to prevent kinking. After the tubes are bent, oils and tube bending lubricants must be removed.
“People are fussy about how their tubes look,” said Bud Greener, Eaton Aerospace’s manufacturing engineer. A clean, well-fabricated product is needed to meet manufacturers’ tough quality standards.
For many years, Greener and his team cleaned tubing with mineral spirits and Stoddard solvent, a petroleum mixture that requires special storage, usage and disposal. The company wanted a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly parts-cleaning process.
At the WESTEC trade show, Greener and his supervisor discovered ultrasound products. Impressed by what they saw, they commissioned Omegasonics to retrofit two 300-gal. tanks for ultrasonic cleaning of tubes. Omegasonics also supplied generators and other components, as well as floor model machines.
“Prior to the ultrasonic systems, we cleaned tubes manually. Now we put them into the cleaning systems, adjust the settings, and walk away to do something else while the parts are being cleaned,” Greener said. Eaton Aerospace’s tanks use specialized, environmentally friendly cleaning solutions, heat, water and ultrasonic sound waves for cleaning.
Not only has the tube fabricator experienced labor savings with the new cleaning approach, it also has found that the system does a more effective cleaning job because of the liquid’s cavitation properties. It can reach areas human hands and other devices can’t reach.