Specialized In-House Solution For Precision Cleaning of Gas Turbine

As part of their new project, a customer came in with a very complex part. The part is for a large domestic gas turbine manufacturer, and its internal cleanliness is paramount. Any debris left in the part could find its way into the turbine, wreaking havoc with the blades and the turbine’s performance.

There are many methods to precision clean parts, yet this part posed unique challenges. The precision cleaning process includes an emphasis on removing soil and debris in relation to the design of the parts, and is often performed on precision parts that are manufactured with infinitesimal precision or complex dimensions. This particular job needed a specialized approach due to its intricate design.

To comprehend its precision cleaning requirements, it’s necessary understand the complex design. The part begins as a massive 850-pound block of metal that undergoes machining of irregularly shaped grooves that act as passageways for the fuel to flow to the fuel nozzles. Once the intricate grooves are completed, thin metal strips are welded over the grooves to create the fuel passageways.

The final manufacturing step involves machining holes into both sides of the part. At this point, the machining creates chips that break through and get into the passageways. Because the passageways are difficult to access, the chips are impossible to see and efficiently remove.

Guided by our state-of-the-art, multi-directional articulating borescopes, we used specialized tools custom designed and built in-house to access the passageways. The borescopes we use have both still photo and video recording capabilities, allowing us to not only locate and see the debris, but to also view how to maneuver the specialized tools. We were able to clear all the debris out as well as record the entire removal process, proving beyond a doubt that the chips are completely removed. To ensure this, we provided verification through video recordings of both before and after conditions.

As gas turbine engines grow more sophisticated in both mechanical design and power capacity, it becomes increasingly important to resolve precision cleaning challenges with the highest accuracy. Many critical components require highly sensitive procedures to achieve efficient and safe performance, and to attain long-term and consistent service.

PTI Industries performs precision cleaning and cleanliness testing using a wide range of precision cleaning methods and equipment that include ultrasonic, CO2 snowgun, vapor degreasing, media blasting, aqueous immersion, turbulent flushing, and high-pressure spray. Our list of certifications and specialized process approvals are designed to comply with industry specifications. We examine each part’s precision cleaning needs to propose and devise the best industry-approved solution.

Contact Us at 860-698-9266 to discuss your precision cleaning challenge.

Engage Partner to Make Cleaning Part of Medical Device Offering

In our previous post we discussed the serious, even catastrophic consequences contamination can cause. Medical device manufacturers –from small machine shops to large corporations – need to establish protocols that enable them to consistently deliver clean components and meet regulatory standards.

According to the Institute of Validation Technology, the FDA, in its Quality System Regulations, states that each manufacturer must “establish and maintain procedures to prevent contamination of product by substances that could be expected to have an adverse effect on product quality.”

The FDA also requires medical device manufacturers to establish “documented cleanliness requirements.”

Beyond Your Core Competencies?

If you are like many precision manufacturers, you have deep expertise in producing machined and/or plastic molded parts to strict tolerances. However, cleaning those parts and documenting your decontamination procedures may be outside your core competencies. For that reason, many device manufacturers turn to specialty partners like PTI Industries for their cleaning and validation. Doing so enables manufacturers to meet industry requirements while eliminating costly equipment purchases, staff training, and numerous certification requirements.

With PTI Industries, you produce your parts, we clean and test* them, and then you take care of packaging and distribution. Together, we get your products to market quicker while allowing you to save time and money.

*Note: PTI does not test for Endotoxin

Specialized Services for the Medical Industry

PTI Industries offers several special cleaning and testing processes for the medical device industry, including:

Precision Cleaning and Cleanliness Testing: Ensures you have a documented and repeatable cleaning process to deliver results that exceed industry standards. Trained experts help to determine which precision cleaning process will produce the best outcomes, based on your components.

Passivation: Stainless steel is naturally corrosion-resistant; however, it becomes contaminated when subsequent forming and machining operations are performed that introduce free iron particles and other surface contaminants. Passivation treats stainless steel with a mild oxidant, such as citric acid solution, to remove surface contamination and enhance the spontaneous formation of a protective passive film on the steel’s surface.

Non-Destructive Testing: With the increasing demand for parts made to stricter tolerances, the use of non-destructive testing has become an integral part of the manufacturing process. Non-destructive testing confirms that parts have been produced without defects and ensures they will perform as expected.

Save time and eliminate potentially damaging results by outsourcing your precision cleaning and testing to PTI Industries. Together, we can determine solutions to help ensure the success of your medical device manufacturing process.

Why Outsourcing Medical Device Cleaning Makes Sense

Part cleanliness is critical in the medical device manufacturing process, helping to ensure product safety, quality, and consistency. Failure to meet required cleanliness standards can have catastrophic results, including part malfunction and the transmission of infection.

However, to achieve cleanliness standards and provide testing validation, medical device makers are burdened with costly equipment purchases, environmental regulations, staff training, and numerous certification requirements.

Not surprisingly, many device producers – from small machine shops to large corporations – outsource their cleaning and validation to specialty partners, thereby eliminating significant capital expenses as well as time-consuming tasks.

Treatment for Stainless Steel Devices

Stainless steel is a popular choice for medical devices, due to its corrosion resistance. However, stainless steel can become contaminated when subsequent forming and machining operations introduce free iron particles and other surface contaminants.

These stainless steel medical devices need to meet all standards for quality and safety. Through passivation, a chemical treatment using a mild oxidant such as citric acid, contamination is removed and the spontaneous formation of a protective passive film on the steel’s surface is achieved.

It is also important to ensure that the subsequent cleaning methods used are effective in the removal of endotoxins and/or bioburden from medical devices.

Partnering with Cleaning Specialists

PTI Industries is a one-stop cleaning specialist that offers you multiple cleaning methods and the accompanying certifications and approvals. Our proven solutions are designed for a wide range of demanding applications. For the medical device industry, we specialize in precision cleaning and cleanliness testing. Expert services include:

  • Measurement of particle weight down to one milligram and particle size down to five microns (.0002”)
  • Cleaning with Brulin 815 and Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA)
  • Availability of clean rooms from Class 1,000 to Class 100,000
  • Removal of endotoxins

Save time and eliminate potentially damaging results by outsourcing your precision cleaning and testing to PTI Industries. Together, we can determine solutions to help ensure the success of your medical device manufacturing process.


PTI Industries Cleared to Launch Precision Cleaning for SpaceX

Recently approved for precision cleaning of its aerospace parts by SpaceX, the space launch provider controlled by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, PTI will provide this critical service as SpaceX receives its own launch approval.

Certified by the U.S. Air Force after receiving strict security clearances, SpaceX is now eligible to compete for satellite launches of U.S. national security satellites. The Air Force’s certification of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket brings competition to national security space launches, giving greater leverage to the commercial space market.

What Else Does the Falcon 9 Rocket Do?

This ends the monopoly of United Launch Alliance with the Pentagon in sending military payloads into orbit, including GPS navigation satellites, missile warning platforms, weather satellites, and the National Reconnaissance Office’s orbiting spy payloads. The Falcon 9 rocket is also used for NASA, the U.S. civilian space agency, and commercial satellite operators.

One of the most recent Falcon 9 launches was June 15, 2016, when it lifted off a dual-satellite delivery from Cape Canaveral to broadcast video across Asia and Latin America, and to improve airplane navigation crossing the U.S. It’s set to launch again July 18 to send NASA’s Dragon supply ship to the International Space Station for the crews living there.

The certification from U.S. military comes ahead of the deadline for Russian-sourced engines for ULA’s rockets, a time limit not allowed past 2019. SpaceX, in contrast, builds most of its Falcon 9 from scratch right here in the U.S. It’s also an evolutionary design geared toward making reusable rockets.

This means that the escape rockets, which are mounted in the rocket’s base and not the tower like with Apollo, aren’t thrown away after use. Instead, they can be cleaned up and reconfigured for another flight. SpaceX is the first private company to launch a payload into orbit and make an upright landing and recovery, making sustainable rockets a reality.

PTI Industries is proud to support SpaceX’s achievements. By serving the nation’s military and aerospace industries with certified special processes, PTI continues to advance its mission for accurate process control that ensures part performance, reliability, and safety.

PTI Continues to Offer UTAS Special Processes for Civil and Military Aerospace Products

Jet EnginePTI Industries continues to offer special processes for critical aerospace components, helping the aerospace industry meet an increased demand while adhering to stringent quality standards. Strict adherence to NADCAP, FAA, and EASA certifications and accreditations ensures your parts performance, reliability, and safety.

United Technologies Aerospace Systems in Windsor Locks has shut down and decommissioned operation of their Plating and Special Process lines as of September 1, 2016.

If you have aerospace parts in need of UTAS special processes, our facility is a one-stop multi-service shop with services available for both military and commercial aircraft.

PTI Industries is approved for 5 special processes offered by UTAS:

  • FPI & Dye Penetrant
  • MPI
  • Solid Film Lubricant
  • Passivation
  • Flushing and Cleaning

See out List of Approvals and type “UTAS” in the search field. For all inquiries on UTAS processes, and for your RFQs, please send to quotes@ptiindustries.com for a prompt reply or quote.

PTI’s commitment to quality includes constantly striving for continuous improvements in meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations on every special processes job order. All of our special process technicians have extensive knowledge and training in parts and equipment to support the manufacturing challenges of the aerospace industry.

Shut Down Assembly Line Demands Rapid Response

Depositphotos_49175383_m-2015A nearby molding company recently experienced a product failure that forced their customer to shut down their assembly line. The OEM is a well known, top-selling pickup truck manufacturer and the molding company’s most profitable product line. The urgency was unmistakable.

It began as a panic-stricken call on our toll-free number. The man on the other end of the line explained the predicament. The company molds a small plastic box that is used as a switch that sits under a brake pedal. The switch activates the brake lights on a popular full size pickup truck.

Press the brake pedal and the switch turns the brake lights on. However, the system was no longer working. After switching from a straight plastic polymer to a fiber-filled polymer, the product failed. After assembly, some of the fibers were breaking off and getting stuck in between the electrical contacts and causing the switch to fail.

The entire operation came to a standstill, the whole truck pickup assembly line shut down, and workers were sent home. PTI needed to help them solve the problem, saving both the American-made pickup truck manufacturer and the molding company from an immense potential setback.

Due to the high volume and fast turn times on this particular part, the molding company cleaned the boxes themselves in their own plant. However, they didn’t have a way to test the part for cleanliness. Cleanliness testing is a crucial step in proving the cleaning process adjustments are effective and producing FOD-free parts.

The molding company had a courier ready, and as each new iteration came off their cleaning line, he immediately drove the samples to PTI for cleanliness testing. PTI’s technician was on standby, testing the samples as soon as they arrived. Once PTI had the test results, the technician phoned the molding company.

Based on PTI’s findings, they tweaked their process accordingly and then sent another sample for evaluation. This process took three adjustments and three trips back and forth by the courier, but in the course of a single day, they got the parameters exactly right.

In this cleanliness case study, the customer corrected their problem within a matter of hours. PTI’s rapid response was critical to solving this part failure. Contact PTI at 1-800-318-8438 for immediate solutions to your special process needs. PTI sets the industry standard for accuracy, reliability, and customer-driven response.

How Can Four Equal One? – A Case Study in Streamlining Multiple Special Processes

blog-pic-41pti-300x245In a previous post we spoke about streamlining your special processes to improve your bottom line. Now we’ll take a look at how one part would move through our multi-process shop. Four processes can equal one when a part has four sequential special processes done in one shop on one purchase order. To illustrate this, let’s look at a section of the value stream map for a Locking Nut that mates up to an LPT Shaft, which ultimately ends up in a jet engine.

This life limited part starts out as a 410 stainless steel bar. After machining and heat-treating, we receive the part in to perform Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI) which is a form of Non-Destructive Testing. This special process is done to ensure there are no cracks or voids in the parent material that could result in an in-flight failure.

Having passed MPI, the part travels immediately into our Dry Film Lubricant (DFL) Department, where it has a thin layer of Molybdeum Disulfide (a type of DFL) applied to its threads. This ensures it will rotate smoothly when mated up to an LPT shaft at assembly.

Next, the part moves right into our Bonded Products Division where a special low-friction fabric washer that we laser cut to exacting tolerances is adhered to its bearing surface using our Adhesive Bonding technology.

This special fiber washer acts as a maintenance-free thrust bearing when it mates up to the adjoining surface on the LPT shaft.

The final stop for this part is in our Precision Cleaning Division. Here it will undergo a thorough cleaning and inspection to a microscopic level to ensure there are no particles on it that could damage the part itself or other sensitive components within the engine during use.

It is PTI’s unique Multi-Process capabilities that make it possible for Four to equal One. Streamlining your processes in our shop will result in reduced shipping, handling, paperwork, downtime and all related peripheral activities that will save you money in the long run.

Inside PTI’s Precision Cleaning Room

Our Clean Department Crew

Our Clean Department Crew

Your sensitive parts demand specific precision cleaning requirements that can involve widely different cleaning methods. Inside PTI’s precision cleaning room you’ll find areas designated for many different cleanliness levels and processes.

Within the clean room a department manager oversees two supervisors, technicians, engineers, and processing employees, each assigned to maintaining conformance in the various precision cleaning methods. From your initial job request to your part’s final on-time delivery, a member of our team follows your part through all stages of the precision cleaning process.

A technical group leader is responsible for your part, staying actively involved in the job until your part is processed to meet all requirements in a timely fashion, even if this means running the process multiple times.

Each precision cleaning team member receives multiple layers of training, first on the equipment and its setting up and use, and for the particular parts assigned to them. Each part undergoes thorough evaluation from our technical quoting group, who receives a new part’s specifications and information from the sales department that takes your order.

From the initial visual verification inspection under white or black light, most parts will then undergo a wide variety of possible testing ranging from the visual to particle weight and size. The equipment also meets rigorous testing to assure it’s free of the same size particles.

Each part sent into the clean room is cleaned according to its recommended method, with different cleaning methods applied to a single part without leaving the confines of the clean room. This ensures that your part’s cleanliness is preserved and remains in conformance to industry and contract standards

Our precision cleaning and cleanliness testing equipment and capabilities include ultrasonic cleaning, CO2 snowgun, vapor degreasing, media blasting, aqueous immersion, turbulent flushing, and high pressure spray room washing. The list of certifications and specialized process approvals are designed to comply with industry specifications and very strict cleanliness standards.

Your part receives the highest levels of cleanliness through PTI’s numerous clean room processes. Our in-process cleaning methods have grown out of the need to meet your precision cleaning requirements.

Your end-cleaned product for all the industries we serve, including the aerospace, medical, automotive, and laser industries, will show superior performance and endurance, reducing OEM warranty claims.

Give us a call with any precision cleaning questions you have and learn how PTI can assist you.

A Case Study in Part Cleanliness

152494710Recently on several precision cleaning jobs we were unable to meet the cleanliness requirements on anodized aluminum* parts that contained internal passageways. Regardless of how many times we cleaned and tested the parts, a never-ending stream of small aluminum chips kept showing up in the test samples.

After close study, we discovered that the parts had not been cleaned prior to being sent to the anodize vendor. During the anodize process, machining chips became adhered to the sides of the internal passages, which started flaking off randomly during precision cleaning.

Most aircraft engine specifications require the machining house to perform “In-Process Cleaning”, also known as “clean as you go”, to prevent this kind of situation. Precision cleaning is not designed to remove gross manufacturing debris.

Over the years, we’ve learned that obtaining a “good, clean” anodized part requires thorough cleaning prior to the anodize process. This is especially true for components that have internal passageways, including intersecting cross drills and inaccessible recesses.

A contributing factor is that many of the aqueous based coolants in use today tend to evaporate quickly and form a sticky residue that is infamous for entrapping machining chips and locking them onto the surface of the part. These particles stick to the surface and insulate it from the electrolyte fluid and the electrolytic action actually “burns and locks” the chips onto the surface of the part. Depending on how tightly they adhered to the surface by the anodize process, it’s nearly impossible to remove them during precision cleaning.

To prevent this from happening, the parts must be cleaned immediately after each machining operation to remove coolant and chips before the coolant can coagulate and entomb the chips in the part. Exotic methods are not required for an effective job of removing coolant and chips.

For aqueous based coolants, simply flush the passages with water and follow by drying with water/oil/particle-free shop air. It is always a good practice to start flushing the smallest holes first and work up to the largest, preventing chips from becoming lodged in restriction points.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

For more information on effective flushing techniques, call Chuck Osborn at 860-698-9266, or email him @cosborn@ptiindustries.com.

* The same holds true for components of any alloy with internal passageways.

What is Precision Cleaning?

MicroscopePhoto1Precision cleaning is required for any industry where stringent cleaning is vital for reliable and trouble-free performance of equipment. It’s commonly associated for use with aerospace components and medical devices, but other industries also must use precision cleaning methods.

Other applications that require precision cleaning is include laser components, heat exchangers, and cleaning for oxygen delivery services, all critical systems whose parts must undergo strict cleaning processes prior to use.

Failure to meet stringent precision cleaning requirements can have catastrophic results. Aerospace landing gear parts can fracture, oxygen delivery medical systems can transmit infection and spread disease, and laser components can malfunction and fail when improperly cleaned.

Specialized precision cleaning equipment is used to thoroughly clean contaminants such as soils, oxides, oils, metallic residue, and even dust from the surface of a substrate, or the base material of a part.

Selecting the right method of precision cleaning depends on the different type of contaminants and the type of parts that need cleaning. Careful testing of a part for accurate selection of a precision cleaning method is important to assure compatibility with your parts and the high-performance you require from your precision cleaned parts.

Finding a certified shop for your precision cleaning provides tremendous cost savings. You avoid paying for expensive equipment, complying with strict environmental regulations, and training and certifying your staff.

For optimum service and flexibility, a one-stop shop should meet your high-performance requirements of precision cleaning with multiple cleaning methods and accompanying certifications and approvals.

PTI Industries offers you the essential methods of precision cleaning for a wide range of high-standard cleaning applications.

Our methods of Precision Cleaning include:

  1. Ultrasonic
  2. Aqueous Immersion
  3. CO2 SnoGun
  4. Turbulent Flushing
  5. Vapor Degreasing
  6. High Pressure Spray Washing
  7. Media Blasting
  8. Cleanliness Testing

Applications requiring Precision Cleaning:

  • Cleaning of lasers
  • Aerospace parts
  • Medical devices
  • Low-volume, large auto parts
  • Off-road equipment parts
  • Semiconductors
  • Heat exchangers
  • Oxygen delivery services

Save time and eliminate potentially damaging results by calling us at 860-698-9266. Together we can determine and address your precision cleaning needs.