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When De Soutter Medical attended a seminar run jointly by 3M, the diversified technology company, and D&S Ultra-Clean in 2009, it set in progress a chain of events that resulted in the company improving the performance of its cleaning activities, eliminating hazardous solvents, and reducing operating costs.

De Soutter Medical is a leading manufacturer of medical power tools.  The company’s equipment is used around the world in orthopaedic, oral, ENT, cardiothoracic and neuro-surgery.  In addition, it also produces a range of cast removal and autopsy equipment.  All of the company’sproducts are designed and manufactured in house at its facility in Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire.  The company has built a strong reputation for reliable, high-quality, products and is a market leader in its field

The demanding nature of the medical environment means that the tools must be manufactured to exacting international standards and component cleaning forms a critical part of the process.  De Soutter had traditionally used methylene chloride for cleaning during manufacture of new equipment, and trichloroethylene for their repair and overhaul activities.  “Whilst we had concerns about the hazardous nature of the cleaning processes we used, we were always of the opinion that they offered the best cleaning performance available”commented Andrew Butchard, De Soutter’s Manufacturing Manager.  “However, we were always on the look-out for possible alternatives, so when the invitation came to attend a seminar on 3M’sNovec fluids, I was keen to find out more.”

Andrew Butchard liked what he heard during the seminar, particularly in relation to the non-hazardous nature of the Novec range, and so was keen to try the process out on his own components.  “D&S Ultra-Clean offered to carry out a trial on our behalf and we were very impressed by the cleanliness of the parts cleaned using 3M Novec 72DE Engineered Fluid in a Solvac F ultrasonic cleaning machine.”  “Both D&S and 3M provided all the support and assistance we needed as we evaluated not only the cleaning performance but also the operating costs of the process.  They made some bold statements, particularly with regard to the latter but, I must admit, our experience of using the products has proven their assertions to be absolutely correct.”

De Soutter bought their first two Solvac machines in 2011, one of which was located in their clean room for use in final cleaning before sterile packing for shipment.  They were so pleased with the performance of both processes that they added two more machines a year later, one located at the site of an associate company.  All four machines have been used continuously since then and have become an integral part of the company’s ongoing success and growth.

Andrew Butchard sums it up as follows: “For many years, we believed that trichloroethylene provided the best cleaning performance available on the market, so we managed the health and safety issues.  However, since using Novec 72DE, we can honestly say that we have never seen cleaner components.  Furthermore, our operating costs have reduced dramatically and we have a much safer working environment.  Our switch to Novec 72DE in the Solvac F machines has been a total success story on all counts.”


Novec 72DE is a non-flammable, azeotropic blend based on unique, hydrofluoroether solvent technology by 3M.  Like all products within the 3M Novec Engineered Fluids range, it is characterized by excellent cleaning performance, zero ozone depletion potential and low toxicity.  It is particularly effective for precision cleaning of medium to heavy-duty oils and greases.


Solvac F is a range of automated, ultrasonic cleaning equipment specifically designed to utilise the unique properties of NovecEngineered Fluids.


For more information, contact:


D&S Ultra-Clean Ltd – www.ds-ultra.com.  Tel. +44 (0)1928 580460.


3M – www.3M.co.uk/noveccleaning.  Tel. +44 (0)800 032 0841.


Acota Ltd (Authorised Channel Partner) – www.acota.co.uk.  Tel. +44 (0)1743 466200.


3M and Novec are trademarks of 3M Company