Inline Technique for the Selective Removal of Contaminants Generated by Assembly and Joining Processes

Inline technique for the selective removal of contaminants generated by assembly and joining processes

Assembly and joining processes, such as screwing, pressing or welding, generate unavoidable contamination. These particles or smoke residues often have an adverse effect on product quality or downstream manufacturing steps. This can be avoided using an integrated precision-cleaning solution, such as the quattroClean system from acp. Featuring a minimum footprint and short cycle times, the system cleans components in a dry, selective process; it is also easy to automate.

In numerous branches of industry, such as the automotive, supplier, mechatronics, precision engineering, hydraulics and aerospace industries, components have to be really clean. Accordingly, technical cleanliness requirements in component manufacturing are strictly defined. To uphold them, enormous technical and financial efforts are necessary. Despite this, functionally-critical contamination is still found in systems that are constructed from parts manufactured in compliance with cleanliness specifications. Most of the contaminants originate from assembly processes. This is because tiny burrs, chips, flakes, abraded material and filmy contamination are unavoidably generated during tumbling, caulking, screwing, pressing, punching and bending processes. To ensure the function, quality and long-term reliability of the subassembly or product, these contaminants have to be selectively removed – ideally immediately after their formation.

In serial productions, the efficient quattroClean snow-cleaning system from acp – advanced clean production GmbH, is the ideal solution. It reliably removes filmy and particulate contaminants in the assembly line's one-piece flow – even from delicate and finely-structured surfaces. The system uses a dry cleaning method and, depending on requirements, whole components or just specific areas thereof can be cleaned. The space-saving device can be integrated into an assembly or joining process and is easy to automate.

More effective than compressed air and highly versatile

Environmentally-neutral carbon dioxide, which has an unlimited shelf life, is used as a cleaning medium. It is produced as a by-product in the chemical industry as well as in the generation of energy from biomass.

Liquid carbon dioxide is guided through the patented two-component ring nozzle and expands on exiting to form fine CO2 crystals. This core jet is then bundled by a jacketed jet of compressed air and accelerated to supersonic speed. The easy-to-focus jet of snow and compressed air has a temperature of minus 78.5°C as it exits the nozzle. On impacting on the surface to be cleaned, a combination of thermal, mechanical, sublimation and solvent effects occur. These four means of action not only ensure that particulate contamination, such as chips, abrasion and tiny flaky burrs are reliably removed, but also filmy contamination, for example residues of lubricants and pastes, smoke traces from laser-welding processes and flux residues from soldering steps. Consequently, the system can clean off contaminants that compressed air would be unable to remove. The cleaning process is also gentle on materials, therefore enabling quattroClean to be used for cleaning components with delicate, finely-structured surfaces.

The aerodynamic force of the jet of snow and compressed air also ensures that detached contaminant particles are transported away from the component and sucked into the system's work chamber. The crystalline carbon dioxide converts fully to gas during the cleaning step, meaning that the cleaned component is dry straight away.

Compact, easy to automate and individually programmable

Thanks to its modular construction, the quattroClean system from acp can be easily adapted to customer requirements, even in cases where space is limited: a jet unit fits into a space of approximately 20 x 20 cm, including an extraction device for detached contaminants. This allows even geometrically-complex components to be cleaned in the one-piece flow of an assembly line or rotary indexing table. To achieve optimum results with a minimum of effort, each snow-cleaning unit can be programmed to clean a specific component or subassembly. The programs are filed in the controller of the line control system. Workpiece carriers can also be cleaned selectively.

Its efficient cleaning ability, compact construction and easy automation capability enable the quattroClean system to eliminate critical contamination from assembly and joining processes. It therefore improves functional reliability and product quality, and that at an affordable price.

acp – advanced clean production GmbH, 71254 Ditzingen, Germany,

Phone +49 7156 480140,

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