Seen and Solved Blog

Have a difficult problem? Those are the types of challenges that our experts thrive on! And with over 170 years of metal finishing experience there is a likelihood that we have “Seen and Solved” a problem just like yours!

Enjoy these blog entries from our experts as they go out in the field and share their latest stories. And most importantly, don’t forget to challenge us!


Navigating the Trichloroethylene Shortage: A Shift in Industrial Cleaning Practices

In recent times, the industrial sector has faced a significant challenge due to the abrupt halt in the production of trichloroethylene (TCE), a versatile solvent widely employed in industrial cleaning and degreasing processes. This unforeseen disruption has compelled businesses to rethink their approach to solvent management and explore innovative solutions to address the scarcity. Trichloroethyle... Read More

Choosing the Right Cleaning Process: Navigating the Characteristics That Matter

Cleaning processes play a crucial role in various industries, ensuring the removal of contaminants to maintain optimal performance and longevity of components. This blog takes a closer look at the intricacies of different cleaning processes, shedding light on the essential characteristics that applicators need to consider. Let’s explore the factors that matter most when selecting the right c... Read More

How critical is cleaning in the process prior to phosphating?

One of the biggest wastes in a phosphating application is the productivity loss due to rejects & reworks. As with most multi-step chemical processes, having a clean contaminate-free surface is key to achieving a proper phosphate coating. This enables the reaction to proceed across the entire working surface area and ensures that the substrate is activated and free of problematic soils. Organic... Read More

Enhancing Aluminum Treatment: Optimizing Bath Life for Quality Assurance

In the process of aluminum cleaning, managing zincate drag-in and avoiding blistering issues is important for ensuring quality. A customer case study reveals a solution that balances quality maintenance and cost-effectiveness, highlighting the importance of improving treatment processes. When a manufacturing customer consistently faced blistering concerns around the third metal turnover (MTO). The... Read More

Steps to Optimize Shop Floor Cleaning for Consistent Quality in Manufacturing

Identify the Root Cause One of the biggest challenges operators face is knowing whether a part is clean enough . Many issues can be traced back to inadequate cleaning and pretreatment of parts. Variables are changing upstream that are out of your control, which causes downstream issues. While problems can sometimes arise due to bath issues, a significant portion correlates with ineffective pretrea... Read More

Controlling Your Zinc and Manganese Phosphate Baths

To the uninitiated, the daily operation of a phosphate bath can appear daunting – perhaps even a bit convoluted. While temperature and concentration are common parameters for most chemical applications, both phosphate baths have added complexity acid points, acid ratios, dissolved iron, sludging, heating source, & more. In this post, we will highlight some of the key features of these proces... Read More

Concrete Corrosion is Every Collection System’s Problem

Concrete Corrosion. Mention corrosion and most people think rusting metal. True, but reinforced concrete also corrodes and deteriorates. How so? Reinforced concrete is the backbone of every wastewater collection system. Alkaline materials in the cement phase of concrete are extremely susceptible to corrosion. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is the root contributor to corrosion in sewer systems. H2S is a by... Read More

Foam is Only Good on Beer and Latte

Do you know the chorus of this children’s song? “But the cat came back the very next day, The cat came back, we thought he was a goner But the cat came back; it just couldn’t stay away. Away, away, yea, yea, yea…” Like the kitty that kept coming back, thick foam on your aeration basin and digester keeps coming back no matter what you try. Why is that? And what can you do to finally get r... Read More

When to Take a Closer Look

Microscopic examination of mixed liquor can be a significant aid in the evaluation of the activated sludge process. The presence of various microorganisms within the sludge floc can rapidly indicate good or poor treatment. One of the operator’s primary jobs is to provide a favorable environment to support bug life. Knowing when and how to use a microscope is one of the most important tools in an... Read More

What are the benefits of iron phosphates compared to zinc and manganese phosphates?

Manganese and zinc phosphate coatings have been utilized as established solutions for over a century, delivering proven benefits in a number of applications. Beyond their mechanical benefits and anti-corrosion properties, these coatings create an optimal surface for paint adhesion by increasing the substrate’s total surface area with the crystalline coating that is formed. However, for applicati... Read More

Caustic Paint Strippers: A cost saving solution?

One of the more frustrating aspects of being a paint applicator is having to deal with the buildup of paint on your racks and fixtures. These custom components are a considerable investment for many applicators and ensuring that they remain functional and lasting is critical to managing a process’s operation cost. Several different methods are used to maintain these components including burn-off... Read More

Wastewater Question from the Field

Question:  Can I “overwhelm” my wastewater system? Answer: Yes. When wastewater systems are overwhelmed, a pass-through event occurs. If more wastewater goes into the system than the system was designed to handle, the system is not going to be able to remove all the contaminants. The contaminants are going to go out the door. So, when introducing new processes in manufacturing, always conside... Read More

Organic vs Acidic Paint Stripping Applications, Which Do You Choose?

Traditionally, paint stripping was conducted with methylene chloride or DCM, which is an excellent solvent that was prevalent across many industrial applications. As manufacturers began to learn more about the chemical’s toxicity and carcinogenicity, it quickly ran out of favor as safer alternative methods emerged. Organic paint strippers today are much safer and user-friendly. These products ha... Read More

The Importance of Bench Testing

Bench testing is not an exact science. Each test can produce slightly different results because every wastewater sample is slightly different. By using bench tests to help determine the best chemicals for the wastewater system, you can eliminate weeks of trial and error on a large scale. You will still need to adjust the wastewater system while the water flows to dial in chemical feeds, but bench ... Read More

Five Ways to Extend Bath Life according to our Metal Finishing Legend, Jason Potts.

Number 1: Before you put the bath in, passivate the tank and all the plumbing. Passivation is when you’re dissolving the nickel with a nitric acid, using a stainless tank in which you’re putting a passive film which stops it from plating out. A good nitric will stop it from plating out immediately. I’ve seen it happen many times. I’ll get the call and say, “Hey, I put... Read More

As a Manufacturer, Why Should You Care About Water?

What does Earth Day mean to you? For the metal finishing industry, it means that we continue to make the many parts that make the world go round, from airplane and automobiles to medical devices. If it is metal, we touch it. A side aspect of our industry is that we use millions of gallons of water a year to make these parts. This is water we pull from our communities. In the United States it is es... Read More

Solvent Risk Evaluation – Why Now and What Does It Mean for Manufacturers?

In a recent conversation with Barbara & Ed Kanegsberg  (The Cleaning Lady and The Rocket Scientist), we discussed the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA).   Congress has asked the EPA to look at existing chemicals and evaluate their risk. They look at them chemical by chemical, step by step. The risk evaluation is to determine if there ... Read More

The 8 Myths of Cleaning According to Our Experts. Worth the Read.

Myth 1 of 8: Water is Obviously “Cheaper” than Solvents. Regular city water alone won’t clean anything. It needs surfactants and detergents that lower surface tension and remove soils. These are consumed during cleaning and need replenishing. Higher temperatures are needed to activate cleaning chemistry, which is important for ensuring good wetting and evaporation after rinsing, but that con... Read More

Playing a Part in the World of Semiconductors.

Hubbard-Hall continues to expand the chemical management and distribution services for semiconductor customers by supplying high purity commodity chemistries and representing strategic suppliers with specialty technologies and products. Particularly over the last couple of years, managing the distribution, warehousing of these materials to ensure that no one is shutting down their lines. Fabricati... Read More

Using Too Much TCE?, It’s Probably Your Degreaser

‘I have used TCE for years. Never had a problem. Now it’s a problem!’ Let’s face it, you are in the business of producing metal parts, not dealing with chemistry. If the solvent isn’t cleaning effectively, you simply add more. You probably test for acid acceptance, but not frequently. So why isn’t that enough now? Older open top degreasers used a lot of solvent through emissive losses ... Read More

Which is Better, Solvent or Aqueous Cleaning?

Which is Better, Solvent or Aqueous Cleaning? The answer? It depends! Surface cleaning of metal components is dependent on numerous factors. The type and composition of the contaminant The complexity of the part to be cleaned The type of metal How clean is clean? Available footprint within the shop operation Parts throughput Energy costs Waste treatment availability (in house or haul off) At a h... Read More

TCE going acid. What That Means and How to Prevent It.

How does TCE go acid? Some common conditions that can cause the TCE to go acid are; Excess water from condensation Wet parts Damaged cooling coils Chlorinated oils Water-based cutting fluids Always check with the manufacturer of the vapor degreasing equipment or the supplier of the solvent for guidance. How do I know if my TCE has gone acid? An acid acceptance test is the most accurate way to de... Read More

Heat Treat Furnaces – Why Parts Cleaning is So Important

When considering proper pre and post cleaning of parts, quality is just one consideration for captive heat treaters and commercial shops. The other is the damage that both vacuum and atmospheric furnaces can incur, leaving shops with costly problems to their equipment including: loss of vacuum, contamination to future runs, smoke bombs and shortened quench oil life. Vacuum Furnaces 3 major manufac... Read More

How to Improve Run Times in Your Plating Membrane System

A question from a customer: We are a zinc-chloride plater and flow 15,000 gallons per day through a membrane system. We struggle with keeping the membranes running properly. We average between 36 and 48 hours of run time before we must stop and clean the membranes. What can we do to improve the run time? Wastewater Specialist: “That’s a great question, and in my personal experience as a M... Read More

Removing Metals from Wastewater

A conversation with Hubbard-Hall’s Robin Deal Robin is a Field Service Engineer specializing in industrial wastewater treatment for 7 years. She spends much of her time in the field educating customers while helping them meet their wastewater permit requirements. When in the lab Robin is working toward finding efficient ways for customers to transform their wastewater treatment processes to ... Read More

Reducing Total Suspended Solids in Zinc-Nickel Lines

A question from a customer: “We are a zinc-nickel plater with a discharge of 80,000 gpd. While we are able to meet our zinc and nickel discharge numbers, we struggle with our total suspended solids (TSS). We have a small floc formation with slow settling. We have solids coming over our weir. What can we do to help solve this problem?” A: When we look at hydroxide precipitation of metals, we s... Read More

"Soft" Metal Staining, Post Cleaning

I work with many metal finishers that clean the “soft” metals, specifically aluminum and copper alloys.  One common, and more recurring issue I see, is staining of these alloys after the forming lubricants are removed in a cleaning step. In the push to go green, many fabricators are switching to water emulsifiable metal working fluids. The formulators of these lubes use different addi... Read More

Cleaning is more than chemistry..... Again

I present to industry on a regular basis, about the importance of “Process over Product” when it comes to getting clean parts in your metal finishing operation. This was reinforced to me more than ever, during an onsite cleaning trial at a new customer this week. In this particular case we are cleaning a critical aluminum part, and a improved cleaner was needed. But it is only part of ... Read More

5 Steps to Adding Electropolishing

Surveys show that only 25% of all metal finishing operations in North America offer electropolishing to their customers. With a possible rise in the need for electropolishing thanks to reshoring efforts for medical parts and equipment, demand could outpace availability as manufacturers seek to find finishers to electropolish those parts to a high specificity. Fortunately, electropolishing lines ar... Read More

What Causes Hazy Effluent?

Tackling Hazy Water Hassles With Absolute Clarity When it comes to cloudy wastewater, there are any number of reasons you can find yourself in a fog. From residual emulsified oil and surfactants to overdosing on polymers and coagulants, Hubbard-Hall’s wastewater treatment technical team can help you diagnose and treat the problem.  What are some of the reasons for the cloudy wastewater? Resi... Read More

Cleaning High-Value, Complex Parts for Aerospace Applications

Recently, a leading manufacturer of high-value parts for the aerospace industry ran into a cleaning challenge – namely, the cleanliness of parts going through its vacuum brazing process. The existing process was falling short – and experiencing a high field failure rate. Compounding the challenge was a large variation of aluminum alloys and forming processes of the parts. The customer engaged ... Read More

4 Requirements For A Reliable Rinsing Process

A quick list of the most important factors to bear in mind when determining your rinsing process. Water is becoming an increasingly expensive commodity with even further restrictions in certain areas of the country (pity the poor folks in California). As a result, there has never been a better time to give some thought to maximizing the efficiency of your rinsing process. Put simply, rinsing is a ... Read More