February 27, 2018
Ultrasonic cleaning systems are often a part of processes used in the manufacture of medical instruments, devices and implants. The method is employed in the everyday use of medical equipment, as well. One reason ultrasonic cleaning is often required is that medical equipment often includes delicate, high-precision designs which contain complex surface geometries.
Conventional cleaning approaches that use solvents and abrasives would hardly be appropriate — devices used in the human body don’t require cleaning from stubborn stains, after all; instead, they need to be made free of microscopic contamination and chemical residues. Routine cleaning using conventional methods will often leave behind particles of detergents or chemicals. Removing these from delicate structures requires a special approach.
Ultrasonic cleaning technology answers these needs
Ultrasonic cleaning systems employ the power of cavitation, a natural phenomenon. When liquids are subjected to strong forces, they tend to fracture into microscopic areas of vacuum. When these vacuum bubbles form and collapse, often millions of times each second, they create high temperatures and powerful impact over microscopic areas. These are the forces harnessed by ultrasonic cleaners.
These appliances use powerful high-frequency sound waves to disrupt liquid placed in a cleaning bath to create the cavitation bubbles needed. When medical devices are placed in such a bath, these cavitation bubbles form over the surface. These bubbles are able to dislodge everything from bacteria and fungus to carbon deposits, grease and chemical remnants, with pinpoint precision.
Ultrasonic cleaning technologies offer impressive advantages
Reduced to their simplest form, ultrasonic cleaning appliances are a loudspeaker in a tank of liquid. These speakers are specially designed for the creation of powerful, high-frequency sound waves. As simple as it may sound, this approach produces powerful results unobtainable through other cleaning methods.
Solvent-free cleaning: In other cleaning approaches, including ones that use water, there always are remnants and contaminants left by the cleaning process. The gentle, yet powerful forces brought into play by ultrasonic cleaning systems, however, ensure cleaning action that comes with no remnants, an important requirement in the medical field.
Delicate cleaning for fragile equipment: Medical equipment can be tough in the applications that they are intended for; they can be surprisingly delicate against everyday forces, however. Cleaning such equipment, then, can present special challenges. Ultrasonic cleaning brings to bear powerful forces, but on microscopic areas. It ensures a blend of power and gentleness. Equipment does not need to be touched or handled through the cleaning process, ensuring its safety.
Compliance with professional requirements: The CDC and the WHO recommend the deployment of ultrasonic cleaning technology for medical applications. It is for the simple reason that medical equipment requires a level of cleanliness rarely needed anywhere else. Microscopic surface fissures and interstices are often able to harbor biological or other contaminants, and these simply cannot be reached with conventional cleaning methods. Ultrasonic sound waves, however, are able to dislodge contaminants from smallest crevices, ensuring a high level of medical suitability.
The industry leader in ultrasonic cleaning technology
For more than 65 years, Kaijo Shibuya has been a world leader in the development and use of ultrasonic cleaning systems for a wide variety of industry applications. From compact systems for accessible use, to much larger systems, Kaijo’s full product line of ultrasonic cleaners can address the needs of the medical industry as required by professional organizations.Read More
February 16, 2018
Hospitals, medical research centers and facilities are increasingly using industrial ultrasonic cleaners on 3D printed models of organs or body parts to create prosthetics. Organ models for a particular patient can help determine the best way to proceed with surgery and may help with accurate diagnosis. Both models and prosthetics are used in educational programs as well. When used in such programs and in medical practice or research, the 3D printed product gives a complete reproduction that can be examined from all sides rather than a flat image showing only one side.
Organs and body parts often have complex shapes and irregular surfaces that must be reproduced in the 3D printing process. To accurately create intricate protrusions and make sure the model does not collapse when holes and crevices are printed, the 3D printing process deposits support material as well as the material used to build the model. The support material temporarily holds up the build material until the latter has hardened and is self supporting. The support material then has to be removed. To ensure model accuracy, it is important to remove the support material cleanly and completely.
How Ultrasonic Cleaning Removes Support Material
Ultrasonic cleaning can remove the support material without affecting the build material and can ensure that the removal is rapid and complete. Depending on the materials used, the ultrasonic cleaning system can operate at frequencies delivering exactly the right cleaning strength.
The industrial ultrasonic cleaning systems consist of an ultrasonic generator, a transducer and a cleaning tank. The generator produces the ultrasonic electrical signal and the transducer converts the electrical impulses into ultrasonic waves in the cleaning solution. Microscopic cavitation bubbles are created in the pressure troughs of these waves and the bubbles collapse in the pressure peaks. When the bubbles come into contact with the support material, the scrubbing action of the bubbles removes the material while the build material is left unaffected.
Low frequencies can be used for build materials that can withstand a strong cleaning action and for robust models. Frequencies of 26kHz or 38kHz produce large bubbles and a strong cleaning action. Delicate models or models with fragile build materials can have the support material removed with higher frequencies delivering gentle cleaning action. Frequencies up to the megahertz range produce smaller bubbles and the resulting cleaning action is gentler. Ultrasonic cleaning system manufacturers can help design systems that deliver just the right amount of cleaning strength for the 3D printing materials used.
The Advantages of Using Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaners
Ultrasonic cleaning systems are ideal for removing medical 3D printed support material because they provide several advantages over traditional methods using harsh chemicals to dissolve the material. Such advantages include the following:
- Cleaning is rapid and completely removes the support material while leaving the build material unaffected.
- The ultrasonic cleaning process is completely safe for the personnel preparing the models.
- No toxic chemicals are introduced into the medical environment.
- Disposal of the wastewater does not require additional safety procedures.
Kaijo has a complete line of industrial ultrasonic cleaning systems and equipment with the latest technology and the advanced features required for medical 3D printing. The company can supply compact and self-contained turnkey systems or separate components to be assembled in a custom solution. Kaijo has extensive experience in ultrasonic cleaning and personnel with the expertise to select the systems, frequencies and power ideal for specific medical 3D printing applications. Kaijo’s industrial ultrasonic cleaners are being used at medical facilities to remove 3D printing support material and can help ensure that such applications meet the needs of the medical profession.Read More