Could water jet cutting technology be used as an environmentally-friendly way to clean parts for industry?
A recent study had us pondering this question. The results showed that not only could water jet technology be used for cleaning, it may also be hugely advantageous to do so.
On one level, it appears obvious. Water is used for cleaning, indeed many of us now own ‘high pressure’ jet washers for the home. These are high pressure when compared to the garden hose, but not high pressure when compared to a specialist water jet facility.
The jet wash at home can clean the decking, the car, it can clean moss and weeds off the drive, or even strip paint from external walls.
However, it is not an industrial application, it will not clean the accumulated grease off metal to the extent that may be required for a project such as bridge maintenance.
Simply upping the pressure can solve this.
The study looked at the cleaning of galvanised steel wire ropes, a staple in transportation, but an item that is prone to losing function as it becomes greasey. Globally, trichloroethylene is most commonly used as the cleaning agent for these wire ropes, yet significant health concerns exist over the use of this substance, including from cancer research bodies. A ban on usage is not unlikely.
A natural fear was that any alternative option, whilst better for the environment, would not be as functional in terms of cleaning the grease. A compromise would be needed – reduced performance for enhanced environmental credentials.
Cleaning via water jet showed this to not be true.
Results clearly demonstrated that not only was the cleaning better – with more grease removed, it was also more efficient. Cleaning could be quicker and cheaper. Damage was greatly reduced – both to the environment and the steel wire itself, now it was being cleaned simply by water jet with no heat generated.
In fact, the list of benefits was huge. Water is of course readily available, and so there would be no need to transport specialist cleaning materials to the place where cleaning was to be undertaken. Water jet technology can be easy to operate, controlled by leading software, with the operator simply having to enter a few parameters.
This utility comes because of the sheer pressure available nowadays – in fact the pressure could be too great. State-of-the-art water jet cutting machines would potentially damage the finish of the wire rope, even without an abrasive present (with an abrasive it would cut straight through them).
The study worked to find the ideal water pressure and also speed of coverage – how quickly the jet moves across any area to be cleaned. A pressure above 50 MPa but below 100 was typically found to be ideal.
In this post, we will not go into extended details about the study – for those who want an in-depth read the link is included below. Even a quick glance will demonstrate how thorough this was, it was not a quick test, it was an attempt to show conclusively, one way or the other, whether water jet cleaning would be a suitable replacement for the chemical cleaning.
We believe the fact that water jet cleaning so well is wonderful to see. It means that one more process that is damaging to the environment can be replaced with something that is not only so much kinder to the planet, but also performs better. What isn’t to like?
The study will surely lead to very quick adoption of water jets for cleaning of ever-more industrial parts.
As every major study shows, water jet technology is growing rapidly – whether it is for cutting parts for industry, food prep or now other uses too.
It seems that the answer to so many problems has been with us all along. Water – around two-thirds of the world’s surface. It is pretty useful stuff…
At TMC, we are a water jet cutter who serve the whole of the UK and increasingly Europe too, with clients across the content trusting us to work on their projects.
Despite our success, we remain a company that focusses on every client and work on projects of all sizes. If you think water jet cutting might be of use for your project, please do get in touch for an obligation-free chat.
Call us on 01625 610 441 or use our Contact Form.