Faster results in cleanliness testing
September 2012 – Dürr Ecoclean has developed a fully automatic in-line cleanliness test. The EcoCLab is used to determine the particulate cleanliness of components faster and in a qualitatively reliable way. If permitted levels of residual contamination are exceeded, measures can be taken in the shortest possible time. An initial prototype will be presented at this year’s parts2clean trade fair held in Stuttgart from October 23 to 25.
At present, the cleanliness of complex components is usually analyzed in laboratories by manual rinsing with a cleaning fluid. Any contaminants removed by the fluid are caught in an analysis tray, then passed through a filter membrane and weighed. The total weight of the membrane indicates the level of contamination. Alternatively, the particles may be analyzed and measured using a microscope.
As manual cleanliness analysis is very time-consuming, no more than one analysis per day and per component is carried out. The results are often only available at the plant after 24 hours of production. That is why errors, e.g. in a cleaning system, are only identified after many components have already been assembled.
Compared to the conventional process, in-line analysis offers a number of advantages: After the cleaning process, the component is passed to the EcoCLab via a handling system (e.g. a robot). Here, it is either lowered down or held during the automatic analysis. Smaller areas such as boreholes and channels as well as the entire workpiece are rinsed in the EcoCLab using an analysis fluid.
This method of analysis corresponds to the VDA 19 standard, which the automobile industry has developed together with the Fraunhofer Institute and which is also transferable to other industries. The fluid is fed through an analysis filter. This catches the workpiece particles carried by the fluid. A camera system then analyzes the number and size of the particles. Any deviations from the reference values are indicated automatically and/or passed on to the central computer. Following analysis, the component leaves the EcoCLab and is taken back for further processing.
The automatic monitoring system ensures that measures can be taken as soon as insufficient cleanliness levels have been identified. It allows for analyses to be carried out a lot more frequently so that irregularities in the process can be addressed as soon as possible. In addition, trend analyses can be easily prepared. The EcoCLab analysis provides reliable, reproducible data without any negative effects caused by the operator. The system prevents a large number of components that fail to meet cleanliness standards from being installed along the assembly line, thereby ensuring the quality of the production process. The EcoCLab can be integrated into the cleaning system or placed directly next to it as a module.