Using Ultrasonic Cleaning Systems to Safely and Effectively Clean Circuit Boards
March 28, 2017
Ultrasonic cleaning systems work by utilizing a transducer plate in contact with a cleaning solution to produce cavitation bubbles that scrub the materials to be cleaned. Such systems can remove contaminants from a variety of surfaces and they work more rapidly than conventional cleaning systems. Ultrasonic cleaners are ideally suited for the cleaning of circuit boards safely and effectively because they don’t need dangerous chemicals and they clean completely. Kaijo offers a range of ultrasonic cleaning systems and can help select the system that best matches particular circuit board cleaning needs. For special circuit board cleaning applications, the company can customize systems to meet specific requirements.
Advantages of Ultrasonic Cleaners
By relying on cavitation bubbles for cleaning action, ultrasonic cleaning systems have a number of advantages over traditional cleaning methods. These include the following:
- Cleaning is rapid and complete down to the original surface
- Because bubbles form wherever there is cleaning solution, the systems can clean complex geometries, through holes and into crevices
- Cleaning intensity can be varied by adjusting the ultrasonic frequency
- The cleaning solution is water-based without strong chemicals
A correctly designed ultrasonic cleaning installation can clean circuit boards without the problems often faced with spray washing or mechanical scrubbing. When electronic circuits components have surfaces that are inaccessible via traditional methods, ultrasonic cleaning may be the only solution.
Benefits of Ultrasonic Cleaning Systems
The advantages of using ultrasonic cleaners result in a number of specific benefits. When harsh chemicals are no longer used for cleaning, printed circuit board manufacturers can save the cost of chemicals. Costs associated with chemical handling and disposal are also reduced and cleaning process safety is increased since ultrasonic cleaning uses only mild detergents in an aqueous solution.
The rapid and complete cleaning action of ultrasonic cleaners can increase productivity and improve output quality. When flux and solder paste are removed quickly, circuit boards are ready for additional production steps and facility throughput can increase. The complete removal of contaminants, even from hard-to-access places on the circuit boards, can reduce failure rates caused by incomplete cleaning and result in higher quality output.
The ability to adjust cleaning intensity means that ultrasonic cleaners can be used for rough cleaning of heavy contaminants as well as for removal of less severe contamination from easily-damaged components. The cleaning intensity depends on the system frequency, low frequencies generating comparatively large bubbles with intense cleaning action while the smaller bubbles of higher frequencies clean more gently. This flexibility lets circuit board manufacturers use ultrasonic cleaning systems for many different cleaning applications.
Kaijo’s Ultrasonic Cleaning Systems
When considering the purchase of an ultrasonic cleaning system, the operating frequencies and the system’s physical configuration are critical for obtaining the best cleaning performance possible. In addition to selecting the appropriate frequencies, adequate system power is important for effective cleaning.
Systems can be turnkey or customers can select individual components. Turnkey systems are the easiest to install, but if circuit boards are to be cleaned in existing tanks, separate ultrasonic generators and immersible transducers may be appropriate. Clearly defined cleaning tasks can be carried out with a system limited to one or two frequencies while a flexible cleaning process might require a system that can operate at many frequencies.
Kaijo can evaluate a circuit board cleaning process and establish possible ultrasonic cleaning system configurations and their characteristics. The company offers a complete line of systems and individual components and can put together packages that satisfy the requirements of any ultrasonic cleaning application. Once the requirements are clear, Kaijo can provide turnkey systems such as the Phenix III, components such as ultrasonic generators and transducers, or put together a custom installation to meet the needs of special cleaning processes.