A, B, C: Before and after photos illustrating the removal of oils from perforated aluminium panels with eOX Economic prior to pretreatment and painting.
C. A, B, C: Before and after photos illustrating the removal of oils from perforated aluminium panels with eOX Economic prior to pretreatment and painting.
A, B: Small architectural panels were treated with eOx Economic to strip away wax and sanding debris. The product easily breaks the surface tension of the wax.
B. A, B: Small architectural panels were treated with eOx Economic to strip away wax and sanding debris. The product easily breaks the surface tension of the wax.

John Vinkler had grown weary of the downsides associated with traditional, solvent-based cleaning chemistries: irritating odors, environmental issues and the associated compliance costs, etc. So, as shop foreman of Youngstown, Ohio– based Spectrum Metal Finishing, he took it upon himself to seek out a safer, more cost-effective alternative for the company and its employees.

An exhaustive but fortuitous Internet search uncovered eOx Economic, a non-hazardous, aqueous-based cleaner manufactured by RPM Technology of Reno, Nev. (See sidebar). Made without chlorinated compounds or listed chemicals, the non-toxic and non-flammable eOx Economic boasts numerous attributes: fast, intensive cleaning action; contains no phosphates, acids, butyls or silicones; and is compatible with cleaning fountains, immersion or ultrasonic machines, parts washers, and high-pressure equipment. What’s more, the product—tested  by the University of Ghent, Belgium—won’t harm metals or plastics, RPM Technology claims.

Use As Directed
eOx Economic from RPM Technology may be used in ultrasonic baths, parts washers, cleaning fountains, as well as other popular industrial cleaning machines. Aqueous-based and non-toxic, it safely removes all manner of oil, grease, and dirt from surfaces with little effort. Following are a few stipulations regarding use:

eOx Economic is non-flammable and can be safely heated. For immersion or ultrasonic baths, RPM Technology recommends 50°C/122°F to minimize the
evaporation rate.

A highly concentrated product, eOx must be sufficiently diluted according to use. Otherwise, a white haze or stripes may remain after drying, especially on very smooth or shiny surfaces. Note: This haze will disappear when the surface is treated again with the correct dilution. 

Simply soaking a part in a solution of eOx Economic for an extended period of time will not be sufficient for cleaning. Some mechanical action—brush, sponge, aeration, etc.—is still required to break the surface tension of the dirt.

Rinsing all parts is key to ensuring that no residue remains. Rinsing with warm water is not necessary but will enhance the drying process. If needed, use compressed air to expedite drying time.

“After many successful trial runs on the wide variety of aluminum and steel materials we processes, we found eOx Economic outperformed our solvent-based cleaners at every turn,” Vinkler explained, citing the company’s focus on perforated architectural panels and the inherent challenge in stripping away oils utilized in machining such parts. “The thinners we were using never fully lifted the oils away, but would instead soften up the oil and move it around on the part. When the thinner evaporated, it would just leave the oil or foreign substances behind.”

That all changed when Spectrum Metal Finishing made the complete conversion to eOx Economic. More than four months using the new system, there’s no turning back. “I’ve noticed that it cleans our metals a lot better than solvents do,” Vinkler noted. “Now it’s nothing but eOx when we clean the parts before pretreatment.”

Beyond the highly touted performance attributes of the product, Vinkler is equally impressed with its range of uses. Whether removing tape residue leftover from poly-masking, or dissolving stubborn caulking from the joints of fabricated metal parts, eOx Economic has proven to be an all-around workhorse for Spectrum. This flexibility comes in particularly handy for a company that offers a variety of finishes.

“We also offer a powder coating finish, and in doing so coat aluminum as well as structural steel materials,” Vinkler explained. “eOx Economic has proven to be just as useful on steel as well as aluminum. We use eOx Economic to strip oils from these materials prior to pretreatment and powder coating.

“We also do a lot of finishing for full structural handrails—it works really well there because [fabricators] use wax on their grinders for smoothing finish welds and removing weld spatter from the railing.”  

Then there are the more practical, bottom-line benefits to consider. With the previous thinner-type cleaning products, for instance, Spectrum Metal Finishing had to treat the spent towels used to apply the solvents as hazardous waste. “Before, we had to ‘can’ everything up,” Vinkler noted. “But with the eOx system the towels go out with the regular trash. Not only have we cut down on the amount of hazardous waste going out, but it has helped our employees out because they don’t have to smell the solvents anymore—just the fresh scent of eOx!”

THE not-so-HARD SELL  
The key to Spectrum Metal Finishing’s successful conversion to the eOx Economic aqueous product had as much to do with the technical and sales support the company received during the initial induction phase as it did with the performance of the product itself. For this Vinkler credits RPM Technology principal Jim Esposito, who coordinated with the foreman very closely early on.

“Jim worked real well with me, going back and forth sending samples,” Vinkler said. “eOx Economic did what he said it was going to do, and it’s hard to find anything that says it does something and then it actually does it!”
That was the “soft” sell. It typically requires a bit more nudging to persuade finishers to make the switch from a process that had been in place for years. “It took [Vinkler] some time to convince Spectrum Metal Finishing management of the goal there, but now that they’ve converted over they couldn’t be happier,” RPM Technology’s Esposito said. “They don’t have any rags containing VOCs that they need to get rid of. All that hazardous waste is gone.”

Everyone at Spectrum Metal Finishing is also pleased to learn that—as a result of the changeover—overallcleaning and compliance costs at the company have been reduced as well (as much as 50%, by Vinkler’s math). 

“eOx has proven to be a big help to business,” he said. “I’m glad I ran into it.”

For more on eOx Economic, please visit www.rpm-technology.com.

Spectrum Metal Finishing specializes in liquid paint or powder coating, with an emphasis on commercial construction projects. Based in Youngstown, Ohio (the birthplace of the aluminum extrusion industry), the finisher has been a major force in the metal coatings industry since 1993. Located just one hour from Cleveland or Pittsburgh, the company’s products have been shipped from its 70,000-square-foot headquarters to customers and job sites throughout the United States, Eastern Canada, the Caribbean and Pacific Rim. Projects range from the Philadelphia Eagles Football Stadium to  Bandaijima in Niigata, Japan.

 Spectrum Metal Finishing offers a wet-on-wet application service using a single bake process. A continuous-line system ensures high-quality color consistency.

To learn more about Spectrum Metal Finishing, please call Neil Chrisman at (330) 758-8358 or visit www.spectrummetal.com.