Grit or foreign objects in a fuel system can clog injectors and cause loss of efficiency, resulting in less power and lower fuel mileage. Debris can also cause failure of fuel systems, leading to engine damage and breakdown. Hydraulic systems can also be damaged by debris generating excess wear on moving parts and degraded performance. For this reason, at Camcraft, we pay particular attention to keeping the parts we make clean and free of dirt, chips or other contaminants.
Cleanliness is Built into the Process
Parts cleanliness begins in the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) stage, when our engineers and customers outline the steps required to efficiently turn out the specified finished dimensions. Sequencing and selection of cleaning stages is an integral part of overall process engineering, just like layouts, drawings and machining method selection. At this point, the customer defines the cleanliness specifications for a particular part. The tightest cleanliness tolerance ever requested, and kept internally, was 300 μm (300 microns) for an automotive braking assembly. The average tolerance specified by our customers is 600 to 1200 microns, but we can consistently deliver results at 400 μm (400 microns). As a rule, we perform to spec for our customers with a very low (almost never) incidence of cleanliness-related issues (including zero in the last five years).
Customer Cleanliness Criteria
Cleanliness requirements fall into three categories. Camcraft has the ability to test all three of these categories simultaneously.
- Weight/mass – Mass of contamination on the part
- Particle Size – No particle allowed larger than a defined size
- Particle Count – A maximum number of particles allowed in various size ranges
All three of these testing methods utilize the millipore test method. The automated analysis algorithm used on the millipore filter is what differentiates the three. Camcraft maintains an internal database of part specific customer cleanliness requirements and the testing equipment generates an automated report with a clear PASS/FAIL result for each test.
Cleaning Throughout Production
We wash our parts after nearly every operation – progressing through stages of cleanliness to meet the final customer specification and ensure chips or debris don’t affect the manufacturing process throughout. A final cleaning is done after the part comes off the line to ensure it meets the delivery specification of the customer. Our plant contains over a dozen dedicated cleaning and washer systems distributed throughout our facility for these purposes.
We have many washing options to fit any part or cleanliness specification. The primary final cleaning method is immersion with rotation, ultrasound and a cleaning solvent used to remove contaminants from the surface of an object.
If a customer’s product demands cleaning equipment that we don’t currently employ, Camcraft will make the investment to get the equipment and process in-house. We have invested $1.5M in cleaning and cleanliness inspection equipment. This willingness to invest in new systems, along with the number of dedicated cleaning machines we have on site, gives us a distinct advantage over our competition.
Measurement and Testing
We also provide a variety of measurement and testing capabilities to provide customers with verification of a part’s cleanliness. To test by weight of contaminants, we use the Millipore process which flushes loose particles adhering to a part after which the fluid is filtered, weighed, and analyzed to determine the cumulative weight. For additional testing, we also use hydroscopes calibrated to determine the different size of particles in a sample to ensure none are over acceptable limits set by the customer. Both systems generate detailed reports to share with our customers.
By ensuring that all parts that leave our plant meet our customer’s specifications for cleanliness, we help them reduce warranty claims as well as mitigate negative quality and brand perception issues. Camcraft’s diligence regarding cleanliness in the present can also save end users time, money and frustration in the future.