It's Not the Cost-per-Gallon that Matters.
It's the Cost-per-Part-Cleaned

Precision cleaning with MicroCare is the science of consistent, fast, quality cleaning at the lowest possible cost-per-part-cleaned. Companies buy vapor degreasers and the MicroCare cleaners for only one reason: it is the least expensive way to clean their parts. The purpose of this web site is to explain the non-intuitive fact that cleaning with MicroCare specialty fluids is cheaper than cleaning with water, hydrocarbons, or old-style solvents, all of which can be purchased at far lower prices per gallon.

Modern vapor degreasing can clean tiny parts, such as these, as well as remove water from their surfacesIn general, when compared to comparable aqueous cleaning systems, vapor degreasers are smaller, faster, simpler, quieter, use less energy and require less technical support. Because they are smaller and simpler, they cost less to buy and require fewer facility changes (construction, electrical, water treatment, floor space) than aqueous systems. This extraordinary value is further described in the MicroCare Learning Center, on this web site.

But it is very difficult to comapre different cleaning technologies in a fair, apples-to-apples manner. To simplify matters, MicroCare has created a http://www.microcareprecisioncleaners.com="">spreadsheet to help engineers balance the conflicting claims.

In general, the purpose of the spreadsheet is to compute a universal measurement of the efficiency of the cleaning process: the cost-per-part-cleaned.  In an accurate and thorough comparison, the lowest-cost option often will be vapor degreasing with MicroCare cleaners.

Once an engineer has collected and tabulated all of the acquisition costs and the operating costs, these costs are divided by the quantity of pieces cleaned over the economic life of the cleaning system. This result is the “costs per part cleaned.” This "calibrates" the costs into an index that allows you to compare apple-to-apples when evaluating your cleaning choices.

When this analysis is repeated with the other cleaning options – hydrocarbon cleaners, aqueous cleaners, and so on – the costs of each technology can be compared against the other in a fair manner. Engineers should simply select the least expensive option. More often than not, it will be a vapor degreasing process.

Now, engineers are often surprised at the purchase cost of modern, nonflammable, precision cleaning solvents. These prices can range from $2,000 to $12,000 a drum, which superficially makes them a far less attractive and more expensive choice on a per-gallon basis than, say, water.

But the cost-per-gallon is a mis-leading statistic. The single most crucial operating cost for a vapor degreaser is the cost of lost solvent. But unlike old-style degreasers, a modern vapor degreaser loses very little solvent in normal operations, keeping operating costs low. The solvent is re-used time after time, month after month. This means solvent costs are far less critical than other costs, such as labor, factory floor space, energy costs and through-put. (But the system has to be “tight” and properly used to maximize these savings; see the Learning Center for details.)

So the price of the cleaning fluid simply is not a major issue in the overall cost analysis. Download the spreadsheet; do your own analysis. Most engineers are surprised how inexpensive modern vapor degreasing can be.