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Stainless Steel Cleaning Techniques

Due to its excellent resistance and beauty, stainless steel is an easy-care material, sometimes tending to have the mistaken idea that it does not require maintenance. In order to preserve their innate qualities, it is necessary to follow some minimum recommendations during storage, handling and use, which with proper routine cleaning, allow to maintain the original characteristics unaltered, preserving their resistance to corrosion, hygiene and appearance.




Stainless steel is the only metal that can regenerate itself. It has a thin layer of adherent oxides formed mainly by chromium, iron and nickel oxides which, when clean and properly formed, are quite inert, under most conditions. In this state it is said that stainless steel is "passive". The following passivation treatments are mainly cleaning and do not induce passivity, but repair the defects on the surface and eliminate substances that may damage the surface film.

Remember that the secret of cleaning and maintenance is the use of proper procedures and products.


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Cleaning Techniques

Problem Solution
Fingerprints With a soft cloth or a damp, soapy sponge or isopropyl alcohol. In mirror finish, use clean glass. To reduce new occurrences, apply household polishes based on wax on the clean and dry surface.
Dust and dirt Wash with water under pressure or steam. Use detergent
Labels Immerse the piece in warm water and rub with a soft cloth. If the adhesive persists, dry and use alcohol or an organic solvent. Never scrape with spatulas, blades or abrasives
Oils and Fats Thick deposits should be cleaned with a soft cloth. Then, the piece must be immersed in a solution of alkaline detergent or ammonia.
Iron inclusions Treat the surface with 10% nitric acid solution and 2% hydrofluoric acid. Wash with plenty of water and dry.
Warm spots or scratches With a fine abrasive, polish the surface. Decap the surface with a solution of 10% nitric acid and 2% sulfuric acid until all traces are eliminated. Electro polish or wash with warm water.
Oxide The surface should be washed with a 20% nitric acid solution and then rinsed with water.
Roughness Polishing with a fine-grained abrasive.
Electrode marks Polish with a fine-grained abrasive or, weld over if it is in the weld line.
Welding spatters Can be prevented by the use of adhesive films on the sides of the weld bead, or removed with a fine-grained abrasive
Welding defects Remove with grinders and re-weld.
Paint Can be washed with clean water or alkaline cleaners.
Stripper marks Dissolve with nitric or phosphoric acid. Rinse with clean water. If necessary, use a fine-grained abrasive
Reverse spots & disc Use mild cleansing solution. Make sure that the solution you use is compatible with stainless steel. Phosphoric acid cleaners can also work. Use a cloth, sponge or fiber brush (nylon or natural bristle, it could be an old toothbrush). Rinse well with clean water and dry following the polishing lines.
Lime deposits by water exposure (All Dissolve 1 part of vinegar in 3 parts of water. Soak in this solution and then brush to loosen the tank. Rinse well with clean water.
Grease or oil marks (All finishes) Use organic solvents (acetone, alcohol, methylated alcohol or certified products for stainless steel). The stuck grease can be loosened before applying the solvent, applying ammonia. Subsequently, clean with soap and water; Rinse with clean water and dry following the polishing lines.


Pollution Elimination


Problem Solution
Mechanical: They are those such as blasting with abrasive particles, cleaning with brushes and polishing, however, you must be very careful because you must use clean abrasives, free of carbon or iron or steel particles. Glass spheres or pieces of nutshell are very effective, because they do not increase the roughness of the surface as does sand or other harder particles. Brush cleaning should only be done with stainless steel wire brushes, never with other material. Special attention should be paid to abrasive discs; They tend to affect the corrosion resistance.
Chemistry: The colorations of welds, the superficial layers altered by mechanical and polishing treatments, the inclusions of sulfides, among others, can be eliminated by acid treatment, electrochemical dissolution or polishing. These processes remove the affected areas in a controlled manner, resulting in a clean surface free of defects. Acid treatment: 10% nitric acid solution + 2% hydrofluoric acid (hydrofluoric acid is essential, without it, stainless steel does not corrode and you can not eliminate areas with low chromium content) dissolved in water. Electrochemical cleaning: The surface is removed through the application of a continuous electric current in an appropriate electrolyte.

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