Ultrasonic Systems for Precise Cleaning Applications
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Time Vs. Money: How an Ultrasonic Cleaning System Saves Both

August 28, 2017

Time Vs. Money: How an Ultrasonic Cleaning System Saves BothUltrasonic cleaning systems can clean parts and components quickly, thoroughly and without chemicals or manual brushing. The systems work by placing items to be cleaned in a water bath and using ultrasonic sound waves in the liquid to dislodge contaminants. Properly selected and installed ultrasonic cleaners can reduce cleaning costs substantially and increase the efficiency of many production lines or manufacturing processes. Even shops needing a variety of parts cleaned on a regular basis can benefit from using these systems. Once installed and setup using the appropriate frequency and power levels for the specific application, cleaning is done rapidly and effectively.

Saving Time

Ultrasonic cleaning systems use cavitation bubbles generated in the cleaning liquid by the ultrasonic sound waves. These microscopic bubbles scrub contaminants from the surfaces of the parts to be cleaned. The bubbles attack the surface dirt everywhere, even in holes and other difficult-to-reach places. Some of the dirt dissolves and the rest can be rinsed away. This process is quick and cleans completely.

The time savings come from no longer having to soak parts in chemical baths to soften the dirt. Subsequent manual cleaning with pressure sprays and scrubbing is eliminated. Instead, operators can fill the ultrasonic baths, place the parts in a basket in the liquid and set a timer. For contaminants that dissolve or soften with heat, a mild detergent and heating the bath can speed cleaning. Typical cleaning times range from 10 to 20 minutes but can vary with the severity of the contamination and the nature of the dirt. For all but the simplest rinsing jobs, this represents a large saving over traditional cleaning methods.

Saving Money

Cost savings come from multiple sources. Water and power use are reduced and the use of harsh, expensive chemicals is eliminated. The whole cleaning process becomes safer and more environmentally friendly. Depending on the cleaning chemicals used previously, a variety of chemical handling equipment may no longer be needed.

High performance ultrasonic cleaning systems use less power because a typical ultrasonic generator is rated up to 1200 Watts. Very large baths may need several generators but the power used is much less than that used by the equipment of conventional cleaning systems. Water use is lower because only a single bath volume is needed for cleaning. Chemical baths need several bath volumes for soaking, cleaning and neutralizing. The reduced power and water use translate into cost savings.

Major reductions in cost are associated with the elimination of harsh chemicals. The chemicals themselves are expensive but such substances require equipment for storage handling and disposition. Dangerous chemicals have to be stored safely and need special chemical handling facilities. After they’re used in cleaning, they often have to be neutralized with other chemicals and disposed of in an approved fashion. Any spills or other accidents can be extremely costly.

Even if an ultrasonic cleaning solution needs detergents to clean more effectively, these are mild, environmentally safe and inexpensive. Depending on what chemical and mechanical cleaning method is being replaced, cost savings may vary but they almost always justify the purchase of an ultrasonic cleaning system.

Kaijo Ultrasonic Cleaning Systems

Kaijo can help plant managers explore the cleaning requirements of their operations and suggest ultrasonic cleaning solutions. The company offers free consultations and can advise on what is needed for a customer-specific installation. Kaijo has a wide range of state-of-the-art ultrasonic cleaning systems and consistently innovates to meet the needs of customers. From small, self-contained turnkey systems to large installations using existing cleaning tanks, Kaijo can evaluate customer requirements and propose a cost-effective ultrasonic cleaning system.

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How an Ultrasonic Generator Works

August 17, 2017

How an Ultrasonic Generator WorksThe ultrasonic generator is at the heart of ultrasonic cleaning systems as it produces the high-frequency signal that the ultrasonic transducers convert to sound waves in the cleaning solution. In addition to generating the signal, the unit can control the frequency and the power, produce several or a range of frequencies and act as part of an integrated, turnkey solution or independently to power separate transducers. Ultrasonic generators need to be selected to match specific cleaning requirements in order for the system to work effectively. Key criteria for generator selection are the power and frequency of the generator and the matching transducers. In each case, the cleaning tank has to be large enough to hold the longest part to be cleaned, the power has to be high enough for the tank size and the frequency has to match the type of contaminant and the mechanical strength of the parts to be cleaned.

How It Works

An ultrasonic generator converts the 60 Hz facility power to high frequencies ranging from about 20 kHz to the 1 MHz range. Some models can generate only a single or a few frequencies while others can produce a wide range. Different levels of power are also available. For multiple-frequency models, operators can select the frequency that is most appropriate for their cleaning application.

In addition to producing the high-frequency signal, ultrasonic generators control the signal to maximize cleaning performance. Generators may automatically adjust the signal to compensate for heavy or light loading of the cleaning tank and they may “sweep” the signal, varying the frequency slightly to eliminate resonance or standing waves in the cleaning tank. For example, when a generator is operating at 38 kHz, varying the frequency randomly between 36 and 40 kHz eliminates hot spots and tank resonance that could damage the parts to be cleaned.

Selecting the Right Model

The right frequency is the key to effective ultrasonic cleaning. Low frequencies in the 26 to 38 kHz range produce large, energetic cavitation bubbles in the cleaning solution. The cleaning action is powerful but fragile components may be damaged and soft surfaces may suffer pitting. This range is suitable for items such as machined parts, glass and wires.

For the mid-frequency range of 78 to 160 kHz, the cavitation bubbles are smaller and the cleaning action is gentler. Hard disk drives, solar panels and ceramic parts can be cleaned at these frequencies. The most delicate components can be cleaned at the highest frequency ranges of 450 to 950 kHz. These frequencies are suitable for semiconductors, LEDs and fragile medical components.

If the ultrasonic generator is used with a single process and always has to clean the same kind of parts, selecting a single-frequency model makes sense. For general-purpose facilities, where the ultrasonic cleaning system may be used for many different cleaning applications, a generator that can produce many frequencies is a good choice.

Kaijo Ultrasonic Generators

Kaijo has a complete line of ultrasonic generators and offers free consulting to make sure customers select the type of system best suited to their cleaning applications. Generator models include the Quava high power, the Quava Mini and the Phenix Legend ultrasonic generators. Models are available as separate components or in turnkey packages.

The Quava high power models include generators that can operate at either multi-frequencies of 26/78/130 kHz or 38/100/160 kHz or ten different single frequency systems from 26 to 950 kHz. The Quava mini is a self-contained, compact tabletop system for small cleaning jobs. The Phenix Legend has 4 single frequency systems of 78kHz, 100kHz, 130kHz and 160kHz. Kaijo can help customers select the right ultrasonic components for a new process tank or help convert an existing tank.

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