Selecting a cleaning solution for your parts is making a business choice for the long term: annual cost, sustainability (including vulnerability to regulatory action), and performance that will meet your needs. Whether you’re considering a new aqueous or solvent cleaning system, replacing nPB or TCE, or looking to solve a particularly difficult cleaning challenge, learn about your options for sustainable, effective cleaning with 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids.
Aqueous cleaning is “water-plus.” A range of detergents, surfactants, emulsifiers or buffers are added to water, and work in combination with heat, agitation and time to remove contaminants from industrial parts. Generally, multiple wash stations are followed by a rinse step to remove cleaning agent residues. Finally, parts are dried with hot air or solvents like isopropyl alcohol.
Aqueous cleaning is often highly effective at:
Solvent cleaning, often conducted in a vapor degreaser, uses a specially formulated cleaning fluid. Parts are immersed in a continuously filtered and distilled fluid – sometimes also combined with ultrasonic agitation – and contaminants dissolve off their surfaces. Parts then undergo a brief vapor rinse and drying process, where the fluid condenses and drips back into the degreaser to be reused, and are removed dry.
Solvent cleaning is often highly effective at:
Modern chemistry has overcome many of the environmental and safety challenges of older cleaning solvents like hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), tricholoroethylene (TCE), and n-propyl bromide (nPB). 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids were specifically invented to combine strong cleaning performance with sustainability (zero ozone depletion potential and low global warming potential) and a high margin of worker safety (low toxicity and non-flammability).
Read more about how Novec fluids compare to legacy solvents like nPB and TCE.
Per gallon or kilowatt hour, water and electricity are cheap. But when used in quantity, the costs begin to add up – and are subject to potentially large price fluctuations due to droughts, water restrictions or load on the power grid. Plus, the more complicated your cleaning system, the more time and resources that need to be spent on maintenance.
So while the cost per gallon of solvents like Novec fluids is higher than that of aqueous cleaning detergents, the total cost of the cleaning process is often significantly lower. For example, we compared costs for cleaning printed circuit boards with aqueous cleaning and Novec fluid over the course of an average year:
Based on cleaning 10 circuit boards per cycle, 8 hours per day, 52 weeks per year*
Solvent cleaning with Novec fluid
We offer a wide variety of tailored cleaning solvents for light, medium and heavy-duty applications. Our experts can help you find the combination of cleaning strength, materials compatibility, boiling point, drying time and more that meets your needs.
Water and oil don’t mix, but Novec fluids are specifically engineered to reliably dissolve common manufacturing greases, oils, fluxes and more off a broad range of substrates. Whether you’re cleaning plastics, metals or ceramics, precision machined parts or electronic components, there’s a Novec fluid that meets your needs.
Learn more about the data behind our Novec fluid and aqueous cleaning comparison. View the infographic (PDF, 685 KB).
You can increase your output per hour by shortening your cleaning cycle with Novec fluids.
Specifically engineered with low surface tension (less than 20 mN/m), Novec fluids easily penetrate complex part geometries.
Novec fluids clean parts with no hard water or detergent residue.
Typical aqueous cleaning equipment requires 2-3x more space than vapor degreasers. Vapor degreasing with Novec fluids requires fewer tanks and no dryer or water purification system.
With Novec fluids, manufacturers can gain the performance advantages of solvent cleaning without the environmental and safety compromises of legacy solvents like nPB, TCE and HCFCs.
All Novec fluids have zero ozone depletion potential and low global warming potential.
Novec fluids have a high margin of safety. For example, Novec 73DE has a margin of safety 20x greater than typical exposure levels.
All Novec fluids are non-flammable and have no flash point.
Novec fluids are highly stable over time, leading to consistent cleaning performance and ease of recycling. And unlike nPB and TCE, acid acceptance testing is generally not needed.
Solvents such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are targeted for phasedown under global treaties such as the Montreal Protocol due to their high global warming potential, as well as being restricted by numerous national regulators such as the U.S. EPA. Avoid the HFC phasedown altogether by adopting Novec fluids – a sustainable, low global warming potential alternative not targeted for phasedown or phaseout.
Our team of engineers and experts are ready to answer your questions and offer you global support, including access to samples, data and help with cleaning trials. Contact us today.