Ultrasonic Systems for Precise Cleaning Applications
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How to Optimize Ultrasonic Cleaning for Advanced Manufacturing Applications

April 19, 2023

How to Optimize Ultrasonic Cleaning for Advanced Manufacturing ApplicationsWhen companies use ultrasonic cleaning for advanced manufacturing, they can reduce costs and improve overall facility performance. Manufacturers using advanced technologies to make complex parts can benefit by installing industrial ultrasonic cleaners. Products such as medical devices, electronics, automotive components and other parts requiring precision manufacturing often need high-performance cleaning solutions. Ultrasonic cleaning outperforms traditional cleaning methods and can provide the following benefits:

  • Improved cleanliness of parts to be cleaned
  • Reduced cleaning times
  • Elimination of harmful cleaning chemicals
  • Improved worker safety
  • Better quality output
  • Reduction in defective components
  • Lower labor costs
  • Operating cost savings

To ensure that ultrasonic cleaning systems deliver the expected performance, the systems must be configured and set up to match the cleaning application. System characteristics must be correct and set points optimized for the best cleaning results. An experienced ultrasonic cleaning system manufacturer can help specify the required systems and set them up to deliver the cleaning performance the manufacturer needs.

Industries that Benefit from Using Ultrasonic Cleaning

One industry that relies heavily on ultrasonic cleaning is medical device manufacturing. Medical devices such as surgical instruments, implants and other medical equipment require precise cleaning to ensure their safety and effectiveness. Ultrasonic cleaning is ideal for cleaning these devices because it can remove contaminants and debris from difficult-to-reach areas, ensuring the devices are thoroughly cleaned.

In electronics manufacturing, ultrasonic cleaning is used to clean delicate electronic components such as printed circuit boards, connectors and semiconductor chips. These components require precision cleaning to ensure that they function correctly. Ultrasonic cleaning is an effective method for removing contaminants and debris without damaging the parts.

The automotive industry also uses ultrasonic cleaning to clean critical engine components, transmission parts and other automotive parts. Ultrasonic cleaning ensures these parts are thoroughly cleaned, which is essential to maintain performance and longevity of vehicles.

Precision machining is another industry that relies heavily on ultrasonic cleaning. In precision machining applications, intricate components such as gears, bearings and valves must be cleaned thoroughly. Ultrasonic cleaning removes contaminants such as metal shavings, dust and oils, ensuring that they are free of any debris that could affect their performance and reliability.

Using the Right Frequency for Optimized Cleaning

Ultrasonic cleaning works by creating microscopic cavitation bubbles in the cleaning solution. As the bubbles form and implode, they deliver a scrubbing action that dislodges dirt and contaminants from the surfaces of the parts to be cleaned. The higher the ultrasonic frequency, the smaller the bubbles, with the cavitation energy reducing as the frequency increases.

Robust parts with hard surfaces, such as those made with machined steel, can be cleaned quickly at low frequencies. Parts with softer surfaces, such as aluminum ones, must be cleaned at higher frequencies to avoid surface pitting. Parts with soft coatings or surface treatments also require higher frequencies to avoid damage to the coatings. Delicate parts such as semiconductors or sensors require cleaning with the highest frequencies to avoid physical damage to the parts.

Balancing the choice of the frequency with the cleaning speed is critical for optimized cleaning. If the frequency is too low, cleaning is faster but parts may suffer damage. If the frequency is too high, cleaning will be slower, and some heavy contamination may not be removed completely. The right frequency for a cleaning application is one of the most important features of an ultrasonic cleaning system.

The System Power Has to Fill the Cleaning Tank with Ultrasonic Waves

The ultrasonic cleaning system must have enough power to ensure complete and even cleaning. Ultrasonic energy is delivered to the solution in the cleaning tank via ultrasonic transducers, which vibrate to create ultrasonic waves in the cleaning solution. If the power is too low, the cleaning tank will have dead spots where no ultrasonic waves penetrate and no cleaning occurs. Low power can result in spotty or uneven cleaning.

When the transducers are chosen to deliver the required power, the whole tank fills with ultrasonic waves and the cavitation bubbles are distributed evenly. Small systems may only have one transducer, while larger systems can have several. The even distribution of cavitation bubbles produces quick and even removal of contamination.

Heating the Ultrasonic Cleaning Tanks Can Speed Up Cleaning

Sometimes heavy contamination on part surfaces is difficult to remove, especially if higher frequencies are used due to the nature of the parts to be cleaned. Contaminants such as grease, oil and carbon deposits may be softened when heated. Using ultrasonic cleaning tanks with a heater option for such cleaning applications can speed up cleaning and improve cleaning performance.

An important consideration when using a heated cleaning solution is whether the target parts are heat-sensitive. Heating some materials, such as plastic or semiconductors, may cause the material to distort or may affect component functions. Heating the tank is a good solution for speeding up cleaning, especially at higher frequencies, as long as the parts to be cleaned can withstand the temperature.

Solvents and Detergents Can Help Remove Contaminants

While industrial ultrasonic cleaners work with plain water, hard-to-remove contamination can be dissolved with solvents or mild detergents. For challenging cleaning applications, specific solvents can target the contaminating material while leaving the surfaces of the parts to be cleaned unaffected. For more general-purpose cleaning, a mild detergent can speed up the cleaning process without harming part surfaces.

Kaijo Can Help Ensure Optimized Ultrasonic Cleaning for Advanced Manufacturing

With extensive experience as an ultrasonic cleaner manufacturer, Kaijo can evaluate advanced manufacturing cleaning requirements and recommend solutions. Kaijo offers free expert guidance and consulting for customers and can deliver equipment from its complete line of ultrasonic systems and components. With Kaijo’s help, customers can improve the operation of their advanced manufacturing lines by installing high-performance ultrasonic cleaning systems.