Mustang Vacuum Systems is a U.S. based manufacturer of industrial scale vacuum deposition equipment. Their turnkey physical vapour deposition (PVD) systems are used to coat many surfaces, from tools and firearms to taps and watch bands. Before these materials are coated, they must be 100 percent clean. Even 99 percent isn't good enough because the smallest amount of contamination can cause serious complications. When Mustang was ready to expand into cleaning and coating services, they asked Senior Coating Specialist Rex Griffin to research solvents that could meet those exacting standards.
The company was looking for a sustainable cleaning solvent that wouldn’t be restricted by future state and federal regulations. For years, Mr. Griffin had been using n-propyl bromide (nPB) in his vapour degreasers.
"I liked using nPB for its consistent cleaning performance across many different types of metals," said Griffin. "After we tried several replacement solvents without success, Crest Ultrasonics (vapour degreaser manufacturer), suggested we try 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids."
Crest Ultrasonics sent Mustang Vacuum Systems samples of Novec 72DA and 73DE Engineered Fluids to perform their own cleaning trial. Griffin evaluated their cleaning performance, comparing how well each solvent removed buffing compounds and other soils from a variety of substrates. He found that Novec fluids easily outperformed nPB and the other solvents he tested.
3M offers several solvent formulations designed to work in a variety of applications. The Novec team worked directly with Mustang Vacuum Systems to find the right Novec fluid and optimise their process and equipment for Novec. Ultimately, Griffin decided to use Novec 73DE fluid. The evaluation and trials were complete in less than two months.
One of Mustang’s key customers came to Griffin with a particularly tough cleaning challenge. He called the Novec team to help him solve it. The team used electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA) to isolate a specific microscopic compound in a residue left behind in a buffing process. This elemental surface analysis provided clarity for Mustang Vacuum Systems—the first step to solving the problem.
"3M is one of the best vendors we've ever worked with," said Griffin. "Their help has been instrumental in taking our solution, process and entire company where we need to go in order to grow and serve customers at an even higher level. I'm very, very happy with this collaboration."