Are you looking for a deeper clean than traditional types of cleaning can produce? And that can reduce cleaning cycles from hours to minutes?
Then you’ll want to learn more about the components of an ultrasonic cleaner and how these systems offer a highly effective way to remove soil and grime from all kinds of surfaces by using ultrasonic power.
So let’s a look at how ultrasonic cleaners work and the benefits they offer. You’ll learn about cavitation, cleaning tanks, generators and transducers, liquid solutions, baskets, accessories and more.
Then you’ll understand why the market for ultrasonic cleaning machines is growing rapidly due to their wide range of applications and customization options.
And you’ll know why the demand is expected to reach $738.1 million by 2027!
Table of Contents
A Brief Overview of Cavitation in Cleaning Operations
Cavitation is the process of using imploding microscopic bubbles, created by high-frequency sound waves, to agitate and remove soluble and insoluble contaminants from surfaces.
Ultrasonic transducers generate these high-frequency sound waves, creating vibrations that force the formation of cavitation bubbles.
The bubbles then quickly collapse or implode due to the pressure of the liquid around them. The implosions of cavitation bubbles create a strong force that pulls contaminants away from the surface being cleaned.
This process is non-invasive and does not damage parts, even though it produces aggressive cleaning action to effectively remove stubborn dirt and grime on all sorts of material surfaces, reaching areas that other methods simply cannot reach.
The Magic Begins with a Cleaning Tank
The cleaning process requires a specialized stainless steel tank, which will be durable and resistant to long-term effects of housing cleaning detergents.
You will determine the tank size you need by considering the largest objects or volume of objects that you’ll need to clean. You’ll find tabletop tanks that offer mobility, as well as modular units and custom tanks that can be as large as you need, for use in industries such as oil and gas.
Ideally, you will want a tank that has user-friendly controls and features. Some tanks come with digital timers and temperature controls for ease of use.
Some tanks come with built-in heaters, which can enhance the cleaning process. If your cleaning application requires heat, consider a tank with this feature.
And, as with all ultrasonic components, it’s important that you buy from a reputed manufacturer who provides good customer support and warranty.
Crest Ultrasonics meets and exceeds these requirements, being the largest privately held ultrasonics equipment manufacturer in the world.
Tanks Require Generators and Ultrasonic Transducers
The mechanical energy of ultrasonic generators power ultrasonic transducers, which are devices that convert electrical energy into ultrasonic waves
It is important that a generator supplies enough power to transducers for the creation of sound waves, typically within an ultrasonic frequency range of 20-400 kHz.
Transducers come in two varieties: piezoelectric and magnetostrictive. Piezoelectric transducers create vibrations at thousands of cycles per second, while magnetostrictive transducers offer more precise control over the cycle, making them ideal for smaller metal items that require precision cleaning action.
Some transducers are placed outside of the tank, while others are made for immersion inside within the cleaning fluid.
Let’s compare the two configurations.
- Because they are permanently bonded to the bottom or sides of the cleaning tank, their contact with the tank makes it less likely they will be damaged during cleaning operations
- The rigidity of their mounting can often lead to more uniform ultrasonic activity throughout the tank
- They usually have a longer lifespan over immersible transducers, being unaffected by long-term direct exposure to ultrasonic cleaning fluids
- The installation process is more complex and needs to be carefully done to ensure good bonding of the transducer to the tank
- It can be difficult and often more costly to replace these transducers if they fail, since they are bonded directly to the tank
- Heating elements can’t be used in conjunction with exterior transducers, limiting their use in applications requiring heated solutions
- You can add them to existing tanks, providing flexibility in their use and making them a cost-effective choice for retrofitting existing equipment
- You can move them between tanks as needed, making them versatile for different cleaning applications
- They can be used within heated cleaning solutions, in certain cases improving cleaning efficiency
- They can be more prone to damage from mishandling or from objects being cleaned
- The ultrasonic activity might not be as uniform as it is with permanently mounted exterior transducers, allowing for dead zones
- They may require more maintenance than exterior transducers due to their exposure to cleaning solutions and possible physical impacts
Next: An Ultrasonic Cleaning Solution
Choosing the right liquid solution is essential for an effective ultrasonic cleaning process.
Ultrasonic cleaners use specially selected fluids, which can be alkaline, highly caustic, acidic, neutral, enzymatic, or de-ionized water, to remove contaminants from component parts.
Different solutions are used to clean various part materials and all sorts of surface debris, from grease to oils, from rust to blood, from fingerprints to bacteria.
It is within these solutions that cavitation bubbles form and break up all types of contaminants rapidly and efficiently, and within complex surface areas such as crevices or small openings where traditional cleaning methods cannot reach.
Chem-Crest offer a extensive line of standard solutions, and our chemists can also formulate custom blends for any unusual challenges you might have.
The Importance of Using a Basket When Ultrasonic Cleaning
An ultrasonic basket is essential for keeping objects safe and secure.
It prevents potential damage from direct contact between objects and the tank, as well as reducing the risk of scratching or other physical harm to delicate parts.
The basket helps unsure that the ultrasonic waves distribute evenly for maximum effectiveness.
And that small parts won’t be lost during cleaning.
Operators sometime use plastic baskets. Why?
- Material Compatibility: Certain materials, especially delicate ones, might interact negatively with stainless steel. This could result in damage to the items being cleaned. Polymers are generally less reactive and can therefore be safer for certain items.
- Reduced Noise: These baskets can help reduce the noise level during the ultrasonic cleaning process. The sound waves produced by the ultrasonic cleaner can cause a stainless steel basket to vibrate loudly. Plastic absorbs some of this noise.
- Weight: Non-metal baskets are typically lighter than their stainless steel counterparts. This makes them easier to handle, particularly when dealing with larger or heavier items.
- Cost: Generally, plastic is less expensive than stainless steel. If cost is a consideration, this might be the more economical choice.
• Non-Conductivity: Unlike stainless steel, plastic does not conduct electricity. This can be an important safety factor if you’re cleaning electronic components.
But in most cases, it’s wisher to immerse a stainless steel mesh basket within your tank.
- Durability: Stainless steel is more durable, and so can withstand high temperatures and harsh chemicals without degrading over time.
- Strength: Stainless steel containers can handle heavier items without bending or breaking.
- Cleaning Efficiency: Stainless steel can improve the ultrasonic cleaning process. It allows ultrasonic waves to pass through, ensuring a more thorough cleaning.
- Eco-friendliness: Stainless steel is more eco-friendly than plastic. It’s recyclable and doesn’t release harmful substances when in contact with hot water or chemicals.
Whichever material you choose, use it, as you should never place parts directly into a tank’s cleaning solution, ever.
Here are four other accessories can help with your ultrasonic cleaning process:
- Soundproof covers reduce noise levels
- Cooling coils help maintain desired temperatures
- Flask holders keep objects in place during cleaning
- Filters that can remove particles from ultrasonic solutions
Contamination Management and Waste Disposal
Always follow local regulations when managing and disposing of contaminants.
You can skim off or direct contaminants that are removed or remain in a solution into a collector at the end of a tank as part of proper disposal.
It’s also important that you regularly clean the ultrasonic cleaner tank according to its manufacturer’s instructions.
And you should introduce fresh solutions into your tank as recommended for the materials and contaminants you are addressing.
The Benefits of an Ultrasonic Cleaner
By using ultrasonic cleaning systems for your items to be cleaned, you will enjoy several benefits, such as:
- Efficient: These cleaners can thoroughly clean even the smallest crevices and hard-to-reach areas of parts that might be difficult to clean with traditional methods.
- Saves Time: Ultrasonic cleaning can be significantly faster than other cleaning methods. It allows for simultaneous cleaning of multiple parts, reducing the manual effort required.
- Gentle Washes: Ultrasonic cleaning is non-abrasive and will not damage delicate or intricate parts. This makes it suitable for a wide range of materials.
- Eco-Friendliness: This method uses less water and cleaning solutions compared to traditional cleaning methods, making it more environmentally friendly.
- Versatile: It can be used to clean a variety of parts from different industries including automotive, medical, jewelry, and more.
- Cost Effective: While the initial investment may be higher, the operational costs are relatively low, making it a cost-effective choice for many businesses.