Brinkmann Formenbau GmbH is located in the Lower Saxony city of Mühlen, Germany. With around 50 employees, the company manufactures spray-castable, stamping and foaming tools for the automotive, agriculture, sanitary and medical industries. These tools often weigh more than 59,000 lbs. The company develops and designs various innovative tools and injection molded products via rapid prototyping. With continuous CAD and CAM technology, in combination with a modern machine facility, the injection molding tools are developed and implemented by the first sampling to series production stage in close consultation with the customer. The company also offers a maintenance and repair service to ensure the functionality of their own tools in Germany and also foreign tools that may be sent in.
“When we receive the tools for maintenance, they are usually very dirty and need to be cleaned first,” said Roman Baev, an employee in the assembly department at Brinkmann.
The tools are typically delivered to the facility already disassembled, especially the large tools. Until recently, the company cleaned with mold cleaners and solvents as well as ultrasonic bath, because the delicate surfaces and contours of the forms cannot get any scratches or other abrasions.
“Because of this, an enormous amount of time was required to clean,” said Baev. “To clean, for example, a larger form with sliders, two or three co-workers needed six hours and still, the result was sometimes lacking.”
The cleaning agents that were previously used also posed a risk to the workers and had an unpleasant odor.
The workshop manager at Brinkmann Formenbau began searching for an alternative cleaning method. The right solution was found with the innovative dry ice cleaning system i³ MicroClean from Cold Jet.
Cold Jet’s dry ice cleaning systems use non-abrasive media in the form of recycled CO2 pellets that will not damage surfaces or equipment. The combination of dry ice cleaning’s kinetic energy and thermal effect breaks the connection between the dirt and surface, lifting away contaminants. Unlike blasting with other media, dry ice cleaning does not leave any secondary waste, because the dry ice particles sublimate upon impact – converting from solid to gas. Dry ice cleaning is safe, non-toxic, does not create downstream contamination and reduces or eliminates employee exposure to dangerous chemical cleaning agents.
Cold Jet uses MicroParticles, which are scraped off the dry ice block via a patented technology. They form a finer blast media, which allows a gentle, yet highly effective treatment for surfaces of equipment that may be easily damaged. The i3 MicroClean system also operates quieter than dry ice pellet systems.
“An employee of Cold Jet came to our company and demonstrated the device,” said Baev. “We could work on our own with the system and it was impressive how quickly and thoroughly the contaminant was removed.”
The i³ MicroClean is a compact system and can be placed on a mobile cart. It is easily transportable and can be moved to clean the forms in different parts of the facility.
“This mobility makes our work much easier,” said Baev. “We connect the i3 MicroClean to the air pressure and power supply, connect the integrated grounding cable and you can blast.”
The company works with two different blast nozzles. The cleaning of large areas is carried out with a fan nozzle, which has a 2.2 cm (0.88”) blast swath. Brinkmann also uses a round nozzle, which can clean stubborn contamination and dirt from undercuts, edges and corners.
“We can clean difficult to access areas, including cleaning injection molds and punching tools, without further disassembly,” said Baev.
An integrated LED light on the ergonomically designed applicator provides optimum illumination of the areas to be cleaned. Air pressure and the amount of dry ice can be individually adapted to the respective surface and the degree of contamination.
“For earlier cleaning tasks, two or three people needed several hours, and now we can do it in about 45 minutes – and completely without chemicals,” said Baev. “We are not only significantly more economical, but have at the same time labor and environmental improvement.”