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Precision Cleaning for Precision Optics


Sustainable solvent technology for a new level of optical cleaning performance

3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids are nonflammable, low global warming precision cleaning solvents, used to remove particulates, skin oils, mounting wax residue and other soils encountered during the manufacture of optical components, ranging from eyeglass and contact lenses to high performance photonics and lenses for industrial lasers.

Novec fluids evaporate quickly and cleanly, leaving no spots or residue. They also offer good short-term compatibility with most materials used in optical manufacturing, including sensitive plastics such as polycarbonate and PMMA.

Versatile, effective precision cleaning solvents

Novec fluids are effective cleaning solvents for a wide range of oil and water soluble soils. For light duty cleaning, they can be used in their neat (pure) form. Novec 72DE and 72DA can be used for removal of more challenging soils, such as heavy oils, greases, pitches and waxes. Novec fluids can also be effectively used in a co-solvent process. This process combines two fluids: a low-volatility organic cleaning solvent that dissolves soils from part surfaces, and one of several Novec fluids, which function as effective rinsing agents to flush solvating agents and soils from part surfaces.

Another means of removing challenging soils is to use a bisolvent cleaning process. This is similar to co-solvent cleaning, but uses the solvating and rinse agents in separate steps rather than in combination. This technique can be used in optical cleaning applications such as deblocking of waxes and pitches. Novec fluids are ideal for use in this application, because they allow parts to emerge from the rinse step free of both soil and residual solvent, without requiring additional cleaning steps.

A simple, safe, optical cleaning solvent alternative to conventional wax removal processes

For example, 3M™ Novec™ 7200 Engineered Fluid is being successfully used in a bi-solvent vapor degreasing process to remove mounting waxes employed in polishing optical lenses for laser equipment.

This new process is designed to replace nPB, a cleaning solvent classified as a volatile organic compound (VOC). In the first stage, a biodegradable solvent (methyl soyate) is used with ultrasonics to remove the mounting wax. In the second stage, Novec 7200 fluid removes the residual methyl soyate.

Novec 7200 fluid is nonflammable, low toxicity, not listed as a Hazardous Air Pollutant (HAP), and is exempt from the U.S. EPA definition of a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC). It has also been certified by the SCAQMD as a Clean Air Solvent. Because of these properties, the new process is safer for workers, and compliant in locations where VOC emissions are regulated.

 

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