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It doesn't happen often, the chance to look at some hard figures about actual finishing conditions. No hoopla, no hyperbole, just what somebody has experienced in the shop.
Inspired by Mr. MacDonald's letter, reproduced below, this page will carry more of the same. Please submit your library articles to:
by Mike MacDonald, CEF
My experience with liquid cleaners vs. dry is from the perspective of a zinc plating shop. From what I have seen in the last year I can no longer find a single advantage to the dry cleaners.
I have seen several liquid cleaners in the 11N range which are handling all the filthy oils a job shop can dish out. And at 2% concentration your set-up cost is well under $0.20/Gallon. In addition to that, the dragout of the solution only contains 2% of the product you pay for! In one case the same cleaner is used at 2% in the soak and 5% in the electro-clean, automatically fed from the same drum, which lasts about a week.
The closest a dry cleaner can come to the economics mentioned above is probably $0.45 per gallon of make-up solution. That is if you consider a product which costs $0.75/pound and is used at 10oz/gallon. Twice as expensive.
The use of Potassium salts in liquid cleaners in combination with NaOH is an added bonus-the KOH is more reactive and greatly improves the rinsability of your cleaner.
In the past the surfactants which were available were not soluble enough to be used in sufficient quantities to be much good in liquid cleaners, but that has changed in the modern era. If you haven't looked at liquid cleaners in the past year you haven't seen what's out there.
If you have a 500 gallon soak cleaner tank, using the concentrations mentioned above, you would require 10 gallons of the liquid to set-up...approximately $85.00. That same tank would require 310 pounds of powder cleaner or approximately $220. With constant usage requiring similar input it doesn't take long to pay for an $800 controller and a $200 pump, if your particular chemical supplier doesn't supply them for no cost as part of his service.
If you have a five barrel line operation and you switch to a liquid cleaner you also eliminate manual additions to ten cleaner tanks. 5 soaks and 5 electros'. You also eliminate the sludge buildup in the bottom of the tanks, as the liquids don't contain the soda-ash filler commonly used in powders. No more shoveling inside those cleaner tanks.
If your cleaner supplier tells you that you can't fit enough caustic in a liquid to run effectively at 2% concentration, try other suppliers until you find one that's up to date.
Less drums, less sludge, less labor. Now, that's a clear choice!
I hope this opens some eyes, Mike McDonald, CEF