Solvent Wiping Aluminum

Your Technicians are Solvent Wiping Aluminum Wrong

“We need to be solvent wiping our aluminum before it’s coated/painted/sealed/insert adhesion-intensive process here.”

Technically, that’s correct…you should be.

But is that understanding enough?

Stopping at just that is where manufacturing operations run into problems with rework, scrap, warranty claims, and adhesion failure.

Their understanding goes something like this (and be honest if this sounds like your operation):

  • If we solvent wipe our material, we’ll solve the problems with the paint peeling.
  • Our vendor told us our wiping cloths are clean, so we’re not sure why we’re still having adhesion failures.
  • We’re using X type of wipes because that’s what we’ve always done and don’t really see any better results from other wipes.

Sound familiar? Instead, consider this:

“We’re using a uni-directional solvent wipe with Solvent wipe brand X because it’s been determined that it works best for our material system based on scientific-research of actual materials used in our operations. We also implemented an abrasion step after wiping as it was shown to dramatically improve the surface quality after wiping.”

This is music to our ears.

If it’s not clear already, process matters. Down to the detail.

Problems in manufacturing related to adhesion are often times blamed on any other factor but the surface preparation process itself.

The truth is, the science of surface is the final answer to understanding what is really happening in your manufacturing operation, and more importantly, understanding why.

When you understand why things are happening, the door to moving the quality of an operation forward finally opens as you simply cannot argue with data.

So here’s your first lesson:

The Uni-Directional Solvent Wipe

The way you wipe a surface, any surface, matters.

We’re all familiar with the favorite grease of choice when it comes to the factory floor (and our parents/grandparents advice): elbow grease, where more means better, right?

In the case of optimizing surface preparation for optimal adhesion, not a chance.

Instead of scrubbing and scrubbing the surface until it “looks clean enough,” it should be a welcome surprise to technicians everywhere that less is usually better.

Furthermore, wiping in a uni-directional manner, then folding the cloth over once for each wipe, actually picks the contamination up off of the surface. What seems like an unimportant detail, doing the opposite could actually open your operation up to failures.

Of course, improving the wipe technique is only one small part of a grand equation in any material system, but it’s a good start to improving the operation as a whole.

In our next post, we’ll share some critical data that will make you rethink how you choose the type of solvent wipe in your operation.

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