How Are Aerospace Parts Cleaned?

The aerospace industry is an important one for many reasons – millions of people travel across the world every year in aeroplanes, and countries’ militaries and air forces use sophisticated and high-tech fighter jets to defend us from the terrors of the world. Maintaining and cleaning aerospace components and parts is essential to keep these aerospace industry areas running smoothly. Various aerospace components can be cleaned in many ways, helping them obtain optimal functionality and work at full capacity. These components, including avionics, environmental control systems, propulsion systems, and more, are complex and intricate and can be difficult to clean – especially by hand. That is why the different cleaning methods detailed in this blog are among the most ideal methods available.

Here at EJ Ultrasonics, we understand the importance and necessity of cleaning aerospace parts and we are here to help you understand the very best methods for doing so.

ITP aero plane case study

Solvent cleaning

Solvent cleaning is the first method on our list of ways to clean aerospace parts. Grease and oil are extremely common contaminants that occur on aerospace parts which can hinder the effectiveness of small parts such as bearings, hinges, and fasteners. Solvent cleaning involves using solvents such as acetone, isopropyl alcohol, or hydrocarbon-based solvents to remove the contaminants. Solvent cleaning is typically applied on silicone that can coat the aerospace part during the moulding process, as well as any oil that is transferred to the part during assembly. It is important to wear the correct PPE when using a solvent to clean, as many cleaning solvents are toxic, and can cause rashes when absorbed through the skin.

Abrasive blasting

Over time, rust and other corrosive reactions can consume aerospace parts when exposed to moisture and oxygen. After all, aerospace parts spend most of their lifetime in the air which is filled with these elements. One of the most effective methods for eliminating rust and corrosion is abrasive blasting which uses highly pressurised air, water, or a sharp abrasive element. This type of method is also known as sandblasting or grit blasting and can not only remove rust but can make a rough surface smooth and help shape and reshape a surface. Many industries including the aerospace industry utilise abrasive blasting for an effective cleaning method that works effectively on larger industrial parts.

Ultrasonic cleaning

Ultrasonic cleaning uses high-frequency sound waves to create microscopic bubbles that agitate the cleaning solution – made up of water and a mild detergent – and remove contaminants from the surface of the parts being cleaned. Ultrasonic cleaners can be designed in a variety of bespoke sizes and are effective at cleaning many aerospace parts that are small and in complex, hard-to-reach areas, as well as larger industrial parts. A major benefit of using an ultrasonic cleaner is that no harsh chemicals are used in the cleaning process, which helps to stop erosion within the aircraft and on the parts themselves.

The cleaning process is done automatically by simply placing the part into the cleaner, selecting the appropriate cleaning cycle, and then simply waiting for the magic to happen. Depending on the size of the part being cleaned, the ultrasonic cleaning process can take to as little as ten minutes to complete.

EJ Ultrasonics can provide the smallest bench-top units ideal for cleaning small bolts, to industrial-sized ones for cleaning parts such as fan blades on an aircraft.

Other ways aerospace parts can be cleaned

There are several other methods for cleaning aerospace parts which include:

  • Water jet cleaning – Using high-pressure water to remove surface contaminants from the parts. This method is effective for cleaning large or heavy parts and for removing soft materials such as rubber or plastics.
  • Vapour degreasing – This method involves using a solvent in a closed container to create a vapour that condenses on the surface of the parts, dissolving and removing contaminants. This is especially effective for cleaning parts with complex geometries.

Clean your aerospace parts and more with EJ Ultrasonics

Aerospace parts are not the only components that can be cleaned by our ultrasonic cleaners. Here at EJ Ultrasonics, we provide cleaning solutions for a wide range of applications including manufacturing, automotive, 3D printing, and more. We supply a diverse selection of ultrasonic cleaners for your industry and our expert team will help you choose what size and model will work best for you.

Contact us today for more information on our extensive stock of ultrasonic cleaners to help your aerospace parts work as if they were right off the assembly line.