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How A Cleaning Problem Turned into a New Product
August 10, 2021

One of the things we are most proud of here at Microcare is our ability to find answers to our customers’ most challenging cleaning problems.  For one particular MicroCare customer it was removing especially tenacious greases from gears and bearings without leaving residue. Read on to learn how the MicroCare Critical Cleaning Lab not only solved the problem, but developed a new cleaning fluid in the process.

A MicroCare customer needed to remove new generation synthetic greases from gears and bearings.  The specialty synthetic greases contain various amounts of corrosion inhibitors and metallic salts mixed with organic and inorganic compounds, making cleaning them a unique cleaning challenge. Fabricators were hand-cleaning the parts by soaking them for several hours in flammable, hydrocarbon solvents for several hours and then scrubbing them clean.

After deciding to switch to vapor degreasing, company purchased their Branson B950R vapor degreaser. After about a week of using the new system, the engineers noticed that the vapor degreaser removed the petroleum components of the synthetic greases but left a thick, heavy white residue behind.

The MicroCare Critical Cleaning Lab to the Rescue

Emerson reached out to MicroCare and together, conducted a cleaning evaluation inside the Critical Cleaning Lab. After performing a cleaning trial using the methods and fluids as our customer, they found the same result; a thick coating of white residue left on the parts after cleaning.

Trial and Success

So, the MicroCare Critical Cleaning Lab chemists formulated a custom-blended cleaner to fully remove this new generation of synthetic grease without leaving a residue behind. The new MicroCare Synthetic Grease Remover met the synthetic grease cleaning challenge by breaking the grease down into its parts: the solvating agent cut through the organic components while the other ingredients lifted the inorganics and salts. 

All of our customer’s parts were then returned to them for their evaluation. Satisfied with the results, our customer is now using the MicroCare Synthetic Grease Remover™ as the solvent for their vapor degreasing system.

The Cleaning Trial Details

The parts supplied by our customer were contaminated by about 2g of grease. Six different greases were sent for evaluation. Each of the parts was cleaned individually in an Ultronix™ BBMLR two-sump vapor degreaser. The parts were cleaned using various cleaning cycles ranging from 35-50 minutes. All parts were visually evaluated before and after cleaning as described in Table 1. Parts were examined at 10x magnification to identify any powdery, white residue left after cleaning. In addition, parts were weighed before and after cleaning.

Our customer also provided samples of each of the greases. A MicroCare-supplied bearing was evaluated for mass reduction before and after cleaning. The bearing was cleaned and weighed. Then our customer-supplied grease was added to the bearing and re-weighed. The bearing was then cleaned and a final weight taken to measure the amount of mass removed during cleaning. The gravimetrical data is listed in Table 2.

Testing Wrap Up

The MicroCare Synthetic Grease Remover™ solubilized all of the grease and left minimal white residue behind, meeting our customer’s cleanliness specification. The grease remover holds at least 9.3% wt./wt. of grease in solution while remaining a homogenous solution. All of the test parts were cleaned in under an hour with minimal residue. A minimum of 20 minutes was suggested for boil immersion in order to remove the contamination. Longer boil times may be required for larger parts or heavier grease contamination. A rinse time of 5-10 minutes was suggested for any size part. Vertical agitation of the parts will also help break up any grease trapped in tight or interior areas of the parts and help promote thorough cleaning.

But Wait, There’s More

While our customer’s first need was to ensure parts cleanliness, choosing the  MicroCare Synthetic Grease Remover™ led to additional benefits.

Our customer’s original manual cleaning methods required 2-days of cleaning that involved several steps including cleaning and drying.  The new automated cleaning process using the Branson B950R vapor degreaser and the new synthetic grease remover requires about 30 minutes.

The other new process improvements include:

  • Less worker-hours required for cleaning
  • Faster throughput of parts
  • Less waste (the synthetic grease remover is self-cleaning inside the vapor degreaser)
  • No drying processes required
  • No water waste or water treatment needed

So, through hand-on help and focusing on the chemistry our Microcare Critical Cleaning Lab formulated a customized, yet simple cleaning solution for our customers, and developed a new product while they were at it.