When Techspray set out to develop its E-Line zero-VOC general cleaner, the company had a noble goal: to offer an environmentally friendly cleaner with a price tag that wouldn’t take your breath away.
“Most low-VOC cleaners contain expensive components like AK-225 to either make them more plastic compatible or non-flammable,” explains Kevin Pawlowksi, senior product manager for Techspray, a unit of Illinois Tool Works. “This inflates the cost out of the range of many industrial users, forcing them to use less environmentally friendly solutions.”
In an interview with New Equipment Digest, Pawlowski discusses the product-development process behind the E-line cleaner.
NED: What motivated Techspray to develop this product?
KP: VOC [volatile organic compounds] chemicals, which contribute to smog, are highly regulated. CARB [the California Air Review Board] leads the charge with very restrictive regulations, followed by SCAQMD [the South Coast Air Quality Management District] and OTC [the Ozone Transport Commission] on the east coast.
Most low-VOC products are either ineffective or very expensive. Our goal with E-Line zero-VOC cleaner is to offer a lower-cost alternative to industrial users.
NED: How is E-Line zero-VOC Cleaner different from other products on the market today?
KP: Most low-VOC cleaners contain expensive components like AK-225 to either make them more plastic compatible or non-flammable. This inflates the cost out of the range of many industrial users, forcing them to use less environmentally friendly solutions.
E-Line VOC is a fantastic degreaser, but it is more aggressive on plastics and flammable. Those are the tradeoffs that bring the cost to a half or third of other low-VOC cleaners.
NED: What problems needed to be addressed during the development process?
KP: Techspray has over 40 years of experience manufacturing aerosol cleaners, so this project did not present drastically new challenges. The key is to find the right combination of propellant and hardware to give the user a strong spray pattern for a lot of agitation, but not so much that it empties the can in two seconds.
Pierce Pillon, Techspray’s lab manager, and I spray a lot of samples before a new product goes to market.
NED: How long did it take from conception to ultimate production?
: Roughly two months. Once we established the criteria, it came together quickly.
NED: What effect did cost factors have in changing the final design of the product?
: From my experience, cost is always a factor in developing products for industrial markets. There are already low-VOC products on the market from many big-name chemical suppliers, but E-Line Zero-VOC is designed to meet a much lower pricepoint.
NED: Who is your target audience and what benefits will they achieve from using this product?
KP: In a heavy-industry machine shop, E-Line Zero-VOC could be used for basic degreasing and metal cleaning. It could remove mold release from metal tooling.
For electronic assemblers, this product could be used to remove uncured adhesives and cured conformal coatings from stencils and fixtures.
NED: Do you have any other interesting information that you would like to add?
KP: At Techspray, we use the tag line: "Precision, Safety, Performance." We strive to make products that are safe for people and the environment, but work as well as old-school solvents based on Freon.
We recently introduced a product line called “Techspray Renew,” which includes a variety of water-based cleaners for degreasing, surface cleaning, electronic cleaning and SMT stencil cleaning.
In the industrial environment, there are three commonly used solvents that I nickname the “Nasty 3”: n-propyl bromide [nPB], trichloroethylene [TCE] and perchloroethylene [perc]. Techspray does not sell products containing these ingredients because there are serious health concerns. Our solvent line G3 is a great substitute with allowable exposure as much as 40 times greater than some of the Nasty 3 solvents.
At the end of the day, industrial customers want to leave a job well done and get home to their families safe and sound.