Newly machined, forged, or fabricated products are usually coated in oils, chemicals, burrs, abrasive dust, debris, paint, and other residue left over from the fabrication process. Finishing coatings such as zinc and electroplating are not effective if they are applied on a dirty surface.
Parts cleaning systems may stand alone, work in conjunction with loading and exit conveyors, or connect to other forming and processing machinery in an inline, continuous conveying system. They may be manual, semi-automatic, or most commonly, fully automated and controlled by CNC machinery or PC software. They are able to wash several different kinds of parts, from small hardware and fasteners to large industrial drums and automotive parts.
Aside from industrial manufacturing, the electronics, automotive, and medical industries use parts cleaning systems and equipment to sanitize or prepare parts for finishing or recycling. There are four main types of parts cleaning systems, each aqueous and designed for different products. Spray washers, rotary washers, agitating parts washer systems, and immersion cleaners all effectively clean grime and contaminants off parts via several different processes.
The most common parts washing system is a spray washer, which is built with an enclosed conveyer belt. The conveyor belt moves parts through a water tank equipped with high-pressure water nozzles that shoot out hot water and aqueous cleaning solution.
Agitating cleaners are immersion washers, meaning they submerge the parts underwater. After the parts are underwater and coated in solvent, propellers or paddles create a mixing or vibrating action within the water and solvent solution, which helps to loosen the dirt and contaminants from the submerged parts. Immersion methods are effective in cleaning parts ranging from small to large.
Rotary washers are neither immersion nor spray washers. Instead, they tumble smaller parts in high volumes through a rotating drum that washes, rinses, and dries the parts. They have a spiral conveyor on the inner wall that moves parts in a circling motion in order to clean all sides.
Some washers are designed specifically around the product they are washing. Automotive parts washers clean vehicle engines, transmissions, pneumatic parts, and hydraulic parts in hot water solutions and ultrasonic cleaning tubs. Drum washers are used to clean larger drums, pails, and barrels in industrial settings that hold and store different chemicals and materials such as paint, inks, grease, and adhesives. Each time they are emptied or change the chemical, material or product they are housing, drums must be thoroughly cleaned. Finally, small parts cleaning systems, either rotary or immersion washers, are designed specifically to handle large amounts of small parts such as bolts and screws.