Purple trifecta mesh design pattern.

Replacing nPB: better solvent cleaning performance in half the time.

Mustang Vacuum Systems takes precision cleaning to the next level with sustainable 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids.

  • Mustang Vacuum Systems building front

    Mustang Vacuum Systems is a U.S. based manufacturer of industrial scale vacuum deposition equipment.  Their turnkey physical vapor deposition (PVD) systems are used to coat many surfaces, from tools and firearms to faucets 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 vapor 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 (vapor degreaser manufacturer), suggested we try 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids."

Sampling and cleaning trials show improved performance

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.

"Because we clean and coat parts that are mission critical for our customers, we have really high standards for the solvent we use," he said. "Novec 73DE fluid not only meets these standards, but performs even better than nPB when it comes to getting parts 100% clean. Our new Novec 73DE process also cleans in half the time and is much simpler to maintain than our old nPB process."
Senior Coating Specialist at Mustang Vacuum Systems

Collaborating on the molecular level

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."

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