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What Provides the Best Results – Agitation or Ultrasonic Cleaning?

December 21, 2018

What Provides the Best Results Agitation or Ultrasonic Cleaning?

When you set out to find the best possible cleaning solution for your industrial application, you’re likely to come up against two common choices: agitation cleaning and ultrasonic cleaning. These methods work on a shared principle — the ultrasonic method involves cleaning action that is best characterized as a form of agitation. Nevertheless industrial ultrasonic cleaners are different from agitation cleaners, as well — the cleaning method utilizes agitation action on a microscopic scale. Both kinds of cleaning have their benefits and usage in various kinds of industrial parts cleaning.

How does agitation cleaning work?

Agitation cleaning is ideal for hard metal objects and parts such as piston rods, cylinder heads, and turbine blades. The parts to be cleaned need to stand up well to a vigorous cleaning action, and exposure to chemicals solvents or detergents without being damaged. Parts are placed in a chemical bath on a moving platform. As the platform moves the agitation action circulates the cleaning agent (chemical solvent or detergent) so that it contacts the bulk of the part to remove the contamination. Agitation cleaning works best when you have a lot of time to clean parts. Depending on the application it may take hours to remove stubborn contamination but does produce acceptable results.

How does ultrasonic cleaning work?

Ultrasonic cleaning utilizes certain physical forces that come into play when liquids are agitated by sound waves in the ultrasonic frequency range created by ultrasonic generators. When such high-frequency waves pass through a liquid, the agitation caused creates millions of microscopic bubbles of vacuum. These form and collapse thousands of times each second, with each implosion sending forth shockwaves over narrow, minute areas. These shockwaves, when they impact a work surface, are powerful enough to remove surface contamination. Ultrasonic cleaning is ideal for intricate cleaning for a wide variety of objects made of different materials — jewelry, machined parts, electronics and so on.

Which is the more effective cleaning method?

The answer to this question depends on several factors:

What kind of part are you trying to clean?

Parts made of hard materials that stand up well to immersion in chemicals or detergents and rough handling can either be cleaned by ultrasonic cleaning or agitation cleaning, although agitation cleaning will take longer. Parts that are more intricate or delicate may be damaged from the mechanical action or chemicals used in agitation cleaning. Ultrasonic cleaning provides a more effective and gentler method to clean these types of parts.

What is your budget?

In most cases agitation cleaners will cost less than ultrasonic cleaners. If you have a limited budget and clean mostly hard heavy parts, then an agitation cleaner may be a better option. However, when considering cost, take into account the total cost which includes use of chemicals or detergents, lost production time due to cleaning, overall energy used, employee time spent, etc. The return on investment (ROI) when all these things are considered can be a significant differentiator. Depending on your business operation, investing in an ultrasonic cleaning system may provide better long term savings by cutting down on production time lost to cleaning and use of cleaning chemicals or detergents.

How much time do you spend on cleaning?

If time is not an issue, then agitation cleaning may work for your cleaning application. Agitation cleaners cost less and use less power, however the trade off is that they take much longer to clean. You also have to consider if it’s worth your time and money to have cleaning operations that take much longer along with being less efficient.

Overall, it depends on your specific operational needs and other factors to determine whether an ultrasonic or agitation cleaner is the best option.  In most cases when all things are considered ultrasonic cleaning has increasingly become the best cost effective option for many business operations.

Contact Kaijo for a Free Consultation

For guidance by experts in choosing the right kind of industrial ultrasonic cleaning solution, contact Kaijo for a free consultation. With years of experience and a range of custom solutions available for every need, Kaijo is able to deliver the industrial cleaning solution that your business requires.