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Faster injection-mould cleaning for APTACA Spa with time savings of 78%

Date: 18 May 2023 | Category: Case studies

Reduced cleaning time of 40 minutes

with the new cleaning solution


Less waste to manage

with the comprehensive Safetykleen service


Increased security

with a closed machine

Aptaca Spa wanted to improve the efficiency of its cleaning and maintenance activities of injection moulds used for the production of plastic products for medical and pharmaceutical use. Careful cleaning of moulds is essential to ensure the quality of series production, but it does not necessarily have to be a time-consuming and manual process. The new automatic solution provided by Safetykleen has allowed the company to significantly speed up its operations, achieving excellent results thanks to ultrasonic cleaning technology.

The company and its needs

APTACA Spa is a company that for over 40 years has been producing disposable and reusable plastic devices for analysis laboratories, hospitals, research institutes, chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
With over 80 plastic injection moulding and blow moulding presses and 700 moulds, the company manufactures test tubes, slides, pipettes, and containers intended for blood and urine tests, cell cultures, swabs, and pathological anatomy tests for examples.
Given their delicate use, the devices produced are subject to scrupulous quality controls that ensure compliance with European and international standards, in line with the quality management system of the company that has obtained ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 certification.
When dealing with moulding, mould cleaning is essential to ensure production that meets the required quality standards and Aptaca Spa wanted to find a better method for cleaning injection moulds.
Injection moulding is a manufacturing process in which a plastic material is melted and injected at high pressure inside a closed mould, which is opened only after the solidification of the product to allow its expulsion.
The main contaminants to be removed, in this case, are release agents and lubricating oils. To allow the easy detachment of the artifacts from the walls of the moulds, special products are used that leave residues; in addition, one of the two parts that make up the mould is mobile and requires adequate lubrication which, however, can reach the figures.
It is also possible that the moulds need to be cleaned of residues left by the gases that are created in the presence of pressure and high temperatures.

Aptaca Spa would formally carry out the cleaning activities manually with rags, chemical products of various kinds and a good dose of elbow grease, but this process requires quite a long time to achieve satisfactory results.

The company wanted to achieve higher productivity and when Safetykleen proposed an automatic and ultrasonic cleaning solution, Aptaca Spa didn’t need to think twice.

The Safetykleen solution

Often the moulds need a delicate and deep clean to treat even the most hidden corners of the components and ensure perfect adherence of the plastic material to the walls. For this reason, the solution suggested by Safetykleen involved the use of an ultrasonic parts washer, more specifically, the Sonickleen with a 150 L tank.

The ultrasound waves generated by the machine create small bubbles in the washing liquid in which the mould is immersed and these, bursting, cause a mechanical action which gently rubs the surface of the mould and detaches the contaminants in combination with the effective water-based detergent.

Once separated from the mould, contaminants of heavy materials tend to settle on the bottom of the tank and in the case of oils, float on the surface. This second case makes the presence of an integrated oil separator in Sonickleen machines particularly important for cleaning the surface of the washing bath before extracting the clean component.

Thanks to the combination of Sonickleen and non-flammable, non-hazardous and VOC-free water-based detergent, Aptaca Spa has, at the end of each production cycle of the batch of products, managed to obtain impeccable and rapid cleaning results during the regular cleaning and inspection of the moulds before proceeding with filing.

Furthermore, thanks to the regular replacement of the washing liquid in the parts washer carried out by Safetykleen every 12 weeks, the Aptaca Spa injection mould maintenance workshop can have the peace of mind of relying on a machine that is always ready for use.

Not to mention that the spent detergents are managed and disposed of directly by Safetykleen, relieving the company of any practical or legal consequence relating to the waste generated by parts washing activities.

With the Safetykleen system we have reduced the time dedicated to mould cleaning. Furthermore, the cleaning itself is now more effective and thorough. Also worth mentioning is the ease with which the exhausted product is disposed of.

Simone Buono, Aptaca Spa

The results:

The new parts washing solution supplied has allowed Aptaca Spa to optimize its cleaning processes for plastic injection molds and improve maintenance activities in general.

  • Reduced washing times
    The new Safetykleen automatic washing system has allowed Aptaca Spa to reduce the time dedicated to mould cleaning activities from 90 to 50 minutes, while ensuring optimal results at the same time.
  • Minimal operator involvement
    Using an automatic machine that does not require any supervision from the operator after loading the mould into the tank and selecting the washing program, the Aptaca Spa maintenance workshop obtained more time to devote to other activities.If before it took 90 minutes to clean a mold manually, now it takes 50 minutes of which only 20 need to be supervised by the operator. This is basically 20 minutes of operator engagement with the new ultrasonic tank compared to 90 minutes in the past, with a time saving of 78%.
  • Increased operator safety
    The use of a closed and automatic parts washing machine reduces the exposure of operators to chemical agents. Additionally, using a water-based, non-hazardous, VOC-free cleaner further minimizes health risks.
  • Less waste to manage
    Safetykleen parts washers are closed circuit machines that reuse the washing liquid numerous times, after filtration, up to the point where it needs to be replaced to preserve its cleaning power. This system makes it possible to minimize the use of chemical products and therefore to reduce the production of waste, which in any case does not weigh on the client company’s loading and unloading register as the used detergents are waste produced and managed by Safetykleen itself.Finally, the use of an automatic washing system has made it possible to almost completely eliminate the use of cloths and rags for cleaning the moulds.


How to clean injection molds?

Ultrasonic cleaning for large components.


How to clean injection molds?

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