Author Topic: Cleaning graphite dust (and toner?)  (Read 764 times)

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Offline actuallyjaseg

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Cleaning graphite dust (and toner?)
« on: September 11, 2022, 03:17:33 pm »
Hi there, just wanted to share a quick trick I discovered.

Fine graphite powder from motor brushes can be cleaned from a plastic part by first covering the part with a spray oil (I used the standard Ballistol one), rubbing in the oil, then cleaning the part in soapy water. I suspect the same should also work for laser printer toner, though I haven't tried that one.

I was repairing a food processor today whose motor brushes had partially disintegrated, spreading a large amount of very fine graphite powder all over the inside of the case. I had a really hard time at first removing that graphite powder, as neither soapy water nor isopropyl alcohol seemed to do much to it. I suspect water can't get the graphite powder into suspension since water is polar and graphite is not, and isopropyl might just be too small molecules and thus too small van-der-Waals forces compared to the van-der-Waals forces sticking the graphite powder to plastic. So first covering the part in oil gets the graphite into suspension inside the oil, and then the soapy water washes off the oil with the graphite suspended in it.

Do you know any other tricks on how to remove graphite dust? I wasn't able to find much on the internet. Is there maybe even commercial cleaning agents for that?

At work, we have an ultrasonic cleaner. I wonder if that would help.
The following users thanked this post: mcinque, RoGeorge, golden_labels

Online RoGeorge

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Re: Cleaning graphite dust (and toner?)
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2022, 04:01:28 pm »
Would be interesting if that works for printer toner dust, too.  AFAIK toner is made of very small carbon particles that are covered in plastic, so tiny balls of plastic with a carbon dust core.

In a laser printers, the small plastic balls are first attached to the paper by electrostatic force, then the fuser melts the plastic balls, and thus the toner sticks to paper permanently.

Offline m k

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Re: Cleaning graphite dust (and toner?)
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2022, 12:05:38 pm »
Parts are different but whole device must be kept dry.
Even wet toner fingerprints on top of the case can be nasty.
Compressed air both ways is the solution.
Vacuuming and brushing is environment friendly, blowing everything away can have a recoil.
Advance-Aneng-Appa-AVO-Fluke-General Radio-H. W. Sullivan-Heathkit-Herbert Arnold-HP-Kaise-Kyoritsu-Mastech-Simpson-Tektronix-YFE
(plus lesser brands from the work shop of the world)

Offline tooki

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Re: Cleaning graphite dust (and toner?)
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2022, 03:24:20 pm »
Bear in mind that toner particles are a) smaller than non-HEPA vacuums can reliably filter, and b) designed to carry static charge. This means that toner can build up significant charges when being vacuumed up, which can cause discharges strong enough to catch it on fire! (And as you know, powders + flame = explosion.)

For this reason, toner should only be vacuumed up using special toner vacuums, which are basically fully grounded, ESD-preventive anti-static HEPA vacuums.

Or wipe (or vacuum) it wet.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2022, 03:25:52 pm by tooki »

Offline MathWizard

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Re: Cleaning graphite dust (and toner?)
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2022, 04:32:23 am »
Yeah I scarped a laser printer once, and made a mess of black toner on cream coloured carpet, luckily it vacuumed up, and I never noticed any after, neither did the landlord. No if that had been ink, I would have been in trouble.

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