Ultrasonic Systems for Precise Cleaning Applications
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Using Ultrasonic Cleaners on Pharmaceutical Equipment

April 28, 2017

Ultrasonic Cleaners for Pharmaceutical EquipmentPharmaceutics manufacturers have challenging cleaning requirements when equipment such as pill punches and filling machine valves are used with different materials or when they become contaminated with mold or bacteria. Traditional cleaning methods with toxic chemicals bring their own contamination issues, and cleaning by shaking and agitation may not penetrate into inaccessible spaces or hard-to-reach crevices. Industrial ultrasonic cleaners offer an environmentally friendly cleaning solution that removes contaminants thoroughly and quickly at a low operational cost.

Issues With Traditional Cleaning

Exposed pharmaceutical parts such as pill punch dies or containers are usually cleaned with small bristle or wire brushes and solvents. While such cleaning can be effective, it is labor-intensive and slow. When the shapes to be cleaned are more complex and include internal surfaces, such cleaning is often not complete.

For cleaning inaccessible internal surfaces such as the inside of valves or nozzles, strong chemicals acting together with agitation or shaking as well as high impact spray cleaning may be used. The use of these aggressive cleaners required to sterilize the equipment often means technicians have to wear extensive protective gear and even then contaminants may remain in small crevices.

The main issues with this type of traditional cleaning are that it is time-consuming, potentially hazardous, expensive and not completely effective. As a result, costs are high and product quality can suffer. Ultrasonic cleaning can address both these issues.

How Ultrasonic Cleaning Works

Pharmaceutical devices and parts to be cleaned have to be detached and placed in the ultrasonic bath. Pill dies, valves, nozzles and hoses are placed in a stainless steel basket and immersed in a tank containing a water-based solution of a mild detergent. When the ultrasonic cleaning system is switched on, there can be a buzzing depending on the frequency used and a slight agitation of the tank liquid can often be observed.

In the liquid bath, the ultrasonic transducer is converting an electrical signal of perhaps 40 kHz into ultrasonic waves that travel through the liquid. Higher frequencies are used for delicate components while lower frequencies, down to about 20 kHz, are used for the powerful cleaning of rugged parts.

As the sound waves travel through the liquid, they produce microscopic cavitation bubbles whose formation and collapse produce the cleaning action. The bubbles loosen any material, down to the original machined or manufactured surface. The loose material floats away and is filtered out.

The sound waves travel through the parts and create bubbles wherever there is liquid. As a result, even threads, cracks and crevices and internal surfaces are cleaned thoroughly via the bubble action. Depending on the frequency and the power of the ultrasonic system, cleaning can take as little time as ten minutes and for even for challenging applications, the ultrasonic cleaning method works more quickly than traditional cleaning.

Kaijo Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaners

Industrial ultrasonic cleaners from Kaijo can clean pharmaceutical equipment quickly and completely with a low total cost of ownership. Managers and decision makers at pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities can choose turnkey solutions such as the Phenix III system or individual components such as the Quava ultrasonic generator, ultrasonic transducers and cleaning solution tanks.

Buying ultrasonic generators and transducers separately is especially useful when customers want to use existing cleaning tanks in the manufacturing facility. Immersible or bolt-on transducers can be placed in the tanks or bolted on to the sides or bottom. Large tanks can have multiple transducers installed and Kaijo can help configure the appropriate generator and transducer installation.

Whether customers can satisfy their requirements with standard equipment or whether they have custom applications, Kaijo can supply an ultrasonic cleaning solution. The company has over 65 years experience in the field of ultrasonics and supplies pharmaceutical companies with cost effective ultrasonic cleaners to address their specific requirements.