Can My Parts Be Cleaned Using Ultrasonics?
June 29, 2017
Industrial operations often require the cleaning of parts during or at the end of the manufacturing process. Traditionally such cleaning methods use harsh chemicals to dissolve contaminants and mechanical scrubbing to remove tough residue. Cleaning parts in this way is time-consuming and expensive. Even the best traditional cleaning methods are not completely effective and leave contaminants in hard-to-reach places. Ultrasonics can address these problems and provide quick and completely effective cleaning solution for all kinds of parts, tools and equipment.
How an Ultrasonic Cleaning System Works
Ultrasonic cleaning systems remove surface dirt and contaminants through the action of microscopic bubbles in a cleaning bath filled with water (which may also include a mild detergent). As the ultrasonic sound waves travel through the cleaning solution, the waves produce crests of high and low pressure. Cavitation bubbles form in the low-pressure areas and collapse under high pressure, creating an intensive scrubbing action. The effect of bubble formation and collapse is strong enough to deliver a substantial improvement in cleaning performance over traditional methods.
How to Choose an Ultrasonic System
Ultrasonic cleaning systems can increase production facility efficiency by reducing cleaning times, but they must have the right characteristics for a particular cleaning application. Choosing the right frequency and power are critical for optimal performance and choosing the right system ensures that all required cleaning needs can be met.
Low-frequency systems operating at around 26 kHz or 38 kHz create comparatively large bubbles with a robust cleaning action. Such systems are ideal for heavy residues on hard surfaces such as steel, copper and glass. Systems with higher frequencies operating at 100 kHz or more generate smaller bubbles that create a gentle cleaning action for delicate parts such as solar cells, medical devices and semiconductors.
No matter what the frequency, the system has to be able to generate enough power to fill the cleaning tank with bubbles. Finally, if an industrial process involves a single, specific cleaning action, a single-frequency system is an appropriate choice. If many different cleaning applications may be needed, a multiple-frequency system is better.
Additional Features of Ultrasonic Cleaning Systems
Other features used with an ultrasonic cleaning system include baskets to hold the parts to be cleaned, the possibility of heating the cleaning solution, different sizes of cleaning tanks and the ability to operate with different cleaning solutions. Making sure that your cleaning system includes the features you need is critical for effective ultrasonic cleaning performance.
For baskets and size of the tank, the basic requirement is that tank size has to be large enough for the parts you want to clean. Baskets hold the parts to be cleaned and keep them from touching the walls and floor of the tank. Baskets are not necessary for cleaning, but the floor or walls of the tank may vibrate with the ultrasonic waves and contact with the parts could cause damage. If a basket is used, the basket has to be sized according to the parts it will hold, and the tank has to be large enough to hold the basket.
Heating the cleaning solution is an advantage for contaminants that soften with increased temperature. Grease and oil are easier to remove when warm and heating can speed up the cleaning process. The same is true for cleaning solutions. While ultrasonics will work with plain water, adding a mild solvent designed to remove a specific contaminant improves cleaning performance.
Kaijo Ultrasonic Cleaners
An excellent way of ensuring that an ultrasonic cleaning system can fulfill the requirements of a specific application is to consult a company specializing in ultrasonic cleaning solutions. Kaijo has over 65 years of experience in this field and can help choose the ideal system. The Phenix turnkey ultrasonic cleaning system is an example of a versatile system that can meet a variety of requirements. Kaijo’s staff of experts can explain how the Phenix system operates and the features it offers while examining the needs of customers and proposing specialized solutions where required.