Vol. 13
September Issue
Year 2012


in Vol. 13 - September Issue - Year 2012
Media Additive: Eliminate the Oil Issue

Thorsten Evert, Director Sales of PantaTec GmbH

Thorsten Evert checking the blasting results

Water penetration test, right: new casted abrasive, center: contaminated operating mix, left: abrasive cleaned again

Wettability test, left: oily sheet metal, center: blasted with contaminated abrasive, right: blasted with ULTIMATE

MFN had a chance to talk to Thorsten Evert, Sales Director and Developer of the media additive ULTIMATE and authorized representative of PantaTec GmbH, Bad Oeynhausen, Germany

(?) MFN: The new PantaTec process using an additive within metallic blasting media to eliminate the problem with oil and grease in blasting processes resounds throughout the land. So it is time to have a look behind the scenes. Mr. Evert, what is that new method and the additive about, and where does it come from?

(!) T. E.: The idea was borne on the shop floor at the machine and system manufacturer EAB Eggersmann Anlagenbau in Bad Oeynhausen, Germany, which develops and builds mechanical and biological waste recovery plants turnkey.
Due to the requirements of the normal manufacturing process like sheet metal and profile working there are various lubricants, oils, greases, anti splatter sprays, etc. implemented.
After the mechanical processes, all parts get a heavy anti-corrosion coating, which requires an accurate surface preparation in terms of a high level of cleanliness and roughness. The conventional process for that like washing, drying and then blasting was not acceptable from the economical point of view. Furthermore, technical and process weaknesses due to contaminations caused repeated errors on the coating that again and again ended in customer complaints and generated unnecessary costs.
So EAB was forced to fix that issue. But it was the goal to do it without the implementation of a conventional automated washing facility.
After detailed investigations and research in 2009 we started practical tests with various materials to find a way to combine both degreasing and blasting within only one process without washing. The result of that development was a process in which we use some specific physical properties of a mix of mineral-based components together with metallic blasting media.
This simple new method produced excellent surface preparation results. Through the extreme effectiveness and efficiency of the additive, we were completely able to skip the washing stage.
The cost-saving impact at EAB was really significant: a few hundred thousand Euros within one year against just 20,000 Euros for the additive consumption. The quality goal was more than achieved. Since that, EAB has the capability to produce an anti-corrosion coating to fulfill even the requirements of the EN ISO 12944, C5 – long based on a high level of processing.

(?) MFN: So that idea was born through an old problem in traditional practice in surface preparation and then the technological method was developed to solve that.

(!) T. E.: Indeed, and in the beginning, only for personal use at Eggersmann Anlagenbau, to fix a big issue.
After using that method for more than 1 year on our own shop floor, we identified the huge potential.
The problem we had came along with just mechanical manufacturing and its use of oil, grease, anti-splatter spray, coolants, etc.
So, if we had that problem, there must be thousands of other companies doing more or less the same manufacturing processes, using the same raw materials and finally using the same process for surface preparation e.g. for anti-corrosion coating or surface finishing treatment of any kinds of metal.

(?) MFN: So you recognized that there must be a niche in the blasting application, technologically wise and also commercially wise. How did you start and how did you realize then the set-up of your current business activities?

(!) T. E.: First, we settled the company PantaTec GmbH as a sister company to Eggersmann Anlagenbau GmbH & Co KG in June 2010. The only corporate purpose of PantaTec was to optimize and finish the development of that additional process up to an industrial level, so that we were able to publish the idea and launch the required additive ULTIMATE.
During the first 6 months, we optimized the effectiveness of the additive through cooperation with our blasting system supplier Konrad Rump and our coating supplier Dreisol Coatings to the conditions that we use today.
After that the German Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) in Bremen, Germany, neutrally investigated and evaluated the new PantaTec process and the related additive ULTIMATE. The Fraunhofer IFAM fully confirmed scientifically, the practical results we already had at Eggersmann Anlagenbau.
In parallel, we prepared and realized the production and logistics of ULTIMATE in an industrial scale including the potential for an expected growth of the output.
In October 2010 we were ready to go, and started the publication of the entire story first inside Germany through technical magazines, internet, and exhibitions, etc.
Since then, we are requested frequently and with more and more increasing numbers of prospective users every day.
In the beginning of course, the market was extremely skeptical, as we showed up with just a "blue powder" to fix an 80-year-old problem within the blasting business.
At that time, everybody that contacted us was impressed and happy that there seemed to be a simple solution which sounded a little bit like magic. They would highly appreciate it if the PantaTec process would really work as it was announced. I remember those phone calls very well, as they very often ended with the words "… but I couldn’t believe that until I saw it with my own eyes…".

(?) MFN: How did you deal with that reaction and situation coming from the established users?

(!) T. E.: Well, the only effective action we could take was to really convince the prospects through a practical demonstration on site, to make it happen so that "they could see it with their own eyes".

(?) MFN: What was it in detail? Please describe your demonstration.

(!) T. E.: There are many simple experiments that clearly show the problem that oil and grease can cause.
In the first step, we show what contamination from oil and grease would do to the blasting media and consequently to the blasting process and its results. We put some blasting media (operating mix) from the blasting system into a bowl and demonstrate its free-flowing property, which is essential for the process. Then we add just a few drops of oil into the bowl and mix it. The blasting media gets sticky and loses its free-flowing property immediately. The more oil you put into the abrasive, the worse the condition will become. Now a little amount of the additive ULTIMATE will be mixed into the abrasive. Instantly, the oil will be broken away from the metallic surface of the blasting media. The blasting media becomes free-flowing again.
Secondly, we investigate the actual condition of the blasting media and process regarding possible contamination. A metal surface that is free of oil or grease should have a good wettability with water. An oily surface creates an effect where the water will just roll off. This is valid for the blasted work pieces and also for the metallic abrasive. So we compare the behavior of water on a bulk of new (casted) media with a sample from the operating mix. If there is some oil contamination, the water will remain for some time on the bulk. If it is clean, the water will seep into the bulk of abrasive immediately.
You can also show the effect of the additive directly on an oily surface of a work piece.
After that demonstration, it is usually requested to transfer that effect in-to the blasting system.
Therefore, we place the additive ULTIMATE into the blasting system at a suitable place, e.g. into the bulk hopper right behind the air separator or into a screw conveyor underneath the blasting cabin while the machine is running actively. Usually after just 15 to 30 minutes, you can identify the first cleaning effect inside the system. We repeat the water penetration test and/or compare the wettability of the blasted work piece surfaces.

(?) MFN: Thanks, we see that you are really working very close to the practice in the field of blasting applications. But how do you transport this kind of demonstration and information to interested users worldwide? You will not be able to go everywhere for demos.

(!) T. E.: Yes, you are absolutely correct. So we started to create a network of really interested partners all over the world who were willing to do the described kind of demonstration work. The PantaTec process is quite interesting for them as it provides additional benefits for their existing business in the blasting area.
First, they can deliver a simple solution for an old existing problem through this expertise and thus help their customers.
Second, the partners appreciate the complementation of their product range and business of course.
For interested experts, we created further information channels through our internet presence on www.pantatec.de. In video clips and simple but significant documents, we show and describe all necessary information and required procedures. So, partners and end-users both can use these sources to make it happen so that the PantaTec process can be easily tested and implemented in existing manufacturing processes.

(?) MFN: Finally we would like to ask about the potential applications of this new method. Do you see other applications than the clean blasting in the surface preparation?

(!) T. E.: Yes; during the last 2 years we developed more than 300 new applications. Just about 50% were in coating applications. It was surprising that during that short period, so many other processes noticed the possibilities coming with this method. So today, we see users in industries like casting, pressure die casting, heat treatment, cold working, and surface finishing in metal works, etc.
Whenever a blasting process is in risk of oil and grease contamination consequently causing weaknesses in the process reliability, this method can be a simple and cost-reducing help.

(?) MFN: Thank you very much for providing this detailed information and the requested look behind the scenes of PantaTec.

For Information:
PantaTec GmbH
Carl Zeiss Straße 8
32549 Bad Oeynhausen, Germany
Tel. +49.5734 51488 - 610
Fax +49.5734 51488 - 688
E-mail: info@pantatec.de