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Choose The Right Parts Cleaning Media


Experts discuss the different factors to consider when determining which media is most effective at cleaning race parts.

By Andy Heintzelman

After purchasing new parts cleaning equipment, the next step is to determine which cleaning media to use. First, refer to the equipment manufacturers for their recommendations. But in the meantime, our industry sources offered some advice about proper selection.

Harmful cleaning solutions may have been prominent decades ago, but Tracy Tatu from Blast-It-All in Salisbury, North Carolina, noted that today most media itself isn’t hazardous. “It’s all based on what you’re blasting, not what you’re blasting with,” he said. For example, those cleaning rare metals used in aircraft or aerospace, “That’s when you need to deal with somebody like Safety-Kleen (for disposal).”

As for media supply, Blast-It-All recommends one of its distributors from a national network, a list of which is available on its website (www.blast-it-all.com). Big-box stores, too, are getting involved in supplying media, and Tatu knows of customers who have had it shipped to their door from Lowes.com.

He noted that with “aluminum everything” in today’s race cars, soda and plastics are popular media—the latter lasting much longer, but both quickly consumed.

Grit-sized shredded plastic, shot in a very fine blast at pressures of 40 psi or lower, is also “gentle but aggressive enough to remove carbon deposits,” Tatu said.

Talk to a reputable manufacturer before making a choice in cleaning equipment, advised Dr. Andreas Reger of Dürr Ecoclean Inc., a German manufacturer of cleaning equipment, systems and media with a US location in Southfield, Michigan. “Compared to automotive OEMs, race shops are usually lower-volume but high-value operations. The quality requirements are extremely high and, therefore, my recommendation would be to focus on the quality and performance of the machine first.”

He said even the option of solvent or aqueous-based cleaning depends on the product, manufacturing process, purpose of the cleaning operation and contamination of the parts. “The US market in general is very much focused on aqueous cleaning, although in many cases solvent cleaning is the correct technical solution for their contamination problem,” he said.

Additional factors to consider are throughput, cost of cleaning media, cost of energy, spare parts availability, maintenance requirements and environmental concerns.

Mark Oryszczak from Giant Finishing of Wood Dale, Illinois, found a simple way to convey the non-toxicity of the cleaning media it uses in its vibratory machines. “Around here we have used the used media as landscaping material. After all, it is just clay and abrasives in preformed shapes,” he said. “Otherwise, just throw it in the dumpster.”

Cleaning Media Supplies

Determining which media to use when cleaning parts can be determined by type of product to be cleaned, manufacturing process, purpose of the cleaning operation and contamination of the parts. Additional factors to consider are throughput, cost of cleaning media, cost of energy, spare parts availability, maintenance requirements and environmental concerns.


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