Ultrasonic Systems for Precise Cleaning Applications
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How to Select the Right Type of Ultrasonic Cleaner

June 19, 2018

Industrial ultrasonic cleaners come in several different types with various configurations and characteristics that are determined by the cleaning application. The size of the cleaning system, its power, its frequency and its controls all influence the system’s cleaning capabilities. Selecting the right type of industrial ultrasonic cleaner is critical to obtaining the best cleaning performance possible.

Type of System

While ultrasonic cleaners all work basically the same way, the different types of cleaning system include desktop or bench top systems, turnkey systems and large industrial systems. For cleaning small parts of one type with the same contaminants, a turnkey desktop unit is often the most suitable. These compact systems are integrated for placing on a small surface and they operate at 120 V and at one frequency. The frequency selected matches the parts to be cleaned and the dirt to be removed while the small tank can clean effectively at comparatively low power.

A bench top system is larger and can be an integrated turnkey system or assembled from individual components. Selecting separate ultrasonic generators and transducers adds flexibility to the cleaning operation and allows the cleaning of many different kinds of parts and the removal of different contaminants. Generators and transducer can be switched to obtain the different frequencies needed or they can operate a several frequencies.

Large industrial systems are characterized by tanks that can accommodate long or bulky products. The ultrasonic generators are mounted separately and several transducers may be required to fill the tank with ultrasonic sound waves. The design of these systems is critical to ensure that ultrasonic cleaning takes place evenly throughout the tank.

Selecting System Characteristics

In order to insure that the selected industrial ultrasonic cleaner works as expected, it has to use the right frequency and provide the required power for the application. Transducers can be mounted in the tank or can be loose, immersible units. The cleaning tank can hold pure water or the cleaning solution can contain mild detergents or solvents. For certain applications, a heated cleaning solution improves cleaning performance.

The cleaning frequency selection is vital for removing dirt quickly and completely while avoiding damage to the objects to be cleaned. Frequencies of around 20 to 40 kHz deliver intense cleaning action that cleans quickly but may erode the surfaces of delicate components. Higher frequencies deliver progressively gentler cleaning but take longer to remove dirt. An ideal selection is the lowest frequency that the part to be cleaned can withstand. Once the frequency is selected, the system power has to be high enough to evenly fill the tank with sound waves. For example, a 1200 W system can handle tanks of several cubic feet.

When existing cleaning tanks are to be used, a separate immersible transducer is often the easiest solution. For systems with new tanks, selecting a tank with the transducer built in avoids problems with transducer placement and vibrations. When a heated cleaning solution is to be used, tanks with heating will be needed and tanks suitable for holding solvents should be used if the cleaning solution will contain solvents.

Special measures such as heating or using mild chemicals can help with difficult cleaning tasks. Heat is useful when cleaning heavy contamination with grease and oil because the higher temperature softens surface contaminants and makes them easier to remove. Specific solvents or detergents aimed at dissolving a particular contaminating material can also speed up cleaning and ensure complete removal of the substance.

No matter which type of ultrasonic cleaner is needed for an application, Kaijo can help with the selection and offers consulting free of charge. Once it is clear what cleaner is needed, Kaijo can offer equipment from its complete line of ultrasonic cleaners and will back up its products with outstanding customer service.