How Do Ultrasonic Cleaners Work: 7 Things You Should Know
Ultrasonic cleaning has become the professional cleaning method of choice. Ultrasonic cleaning has been around for 60 years. This cutting-edge and innovative cleaning technology has made it easy to remove soils, contaminants, debris, and grime from even the most difficult to clean materials.
Since World War 2, scientists have been fascinated with the concept of ultrasonics. These inaudible sound waves, which have a frequency of 20,000 to 100,000 cycles per second, have been a prominent feature in fields from military applications to medical technology.
The cleaning industry has not been left out. If anything, ultrasonics now dominates the world of cleaning. And rightly so. Water and other solvents can only do so much. But with ultrasonic technology, you can clean everything from jewelry to medical equipment, and much more.
However, many people do not really understand how ultrasonic cleaning really works. Here are seven things you should know about ultrasonic cleaners.
They Are Made up of a Wide Range of Materials
While most people are familiar with regular washing machines, not many know the makeup of an ultrasonic cleaning machine. An ultrasonic cleaner is comprised of three essential components: a tank, a generator, and a transducer.
Tank: Ultrasonic cleaning machines are available in a variety of tank sizes. The size of your machine will depend on the size and quantity of items you will be cleaning.
Generator: The power generator converts electrical energy from the source into mechanical energy in the form of sound waves. These sound waves are comprised of millions of microscopic bubbles. Each bubble is filled with a vacuum effect called implosion. As the bubbles collapse on the item being cleaned, they implode, removing the debris from the object. This process is called cavitation.
Transducer: The transducer is perhaps the most critical component of an ultrasonic cleaning machine. Using electrical energy from the generator, it generates sounds at frequencies that the human ear cannot hear. This usually starts around 40kHz.
A transducer has two essential parts: the frequency plate and the transducer itself. For most cleaning machines, piezoelectric crystals are used as the active element. They are usually positioned at the bottom.
Other features, such as timers, temperature control switches, and baskets of racks, are available for many models. So before buying an ultrasonic cleaning machine, consider its features and specifications. Ensure you choose one with a tank large enough for your needs.
How Cleaning Occurs
When you connect your machine to a power source and switch it on, the generator and transducer immediately get to work. As the generator begins to convert the direct source of power into electrical energy for the transducer, the transducer starts to vibrate and pulse. It also begins to convert the electrical energy into ultrasonic energy.
As a result of the quick movement, the transducer creates high-frequency compression sound waves. This movement ultimately results in the formation of cavitation bubbles, and as this process occurs, the bubbles travel through the cleaning liquid and cleaning begins.
These microscopic bubbles attack the part, causing the removal of the contaminant. The intensity of this process ensures that whatever you are cleaning comes out looking as good as new.
The Frequency of Ultrasonic Cleaning
Ultrasonics is all about the frequency of sound. The ultrasonic frequency is measured in thousands of cycles per second. Generally, ultrasonic sounds range from 20kHz to 100 kHz. Most ultrasonic cleaning occurs around 40 to 60 kHz.
The level of frequency determines the kind of cleaning that is created. At high frequency, small bubbles are produced, which offers a gentler and more detailed cleaning action. If you are looking to clean extensive dirt and contaminants, you should use lower frequencies. The lower the frequency, the bigger the bubbles, allowing the user to perform more intense and aggressive cleaning actions.
There are Different Types of Ultrasonic Cleaners
Not all ultrasonic cleaners are the same. Let's look at a few of the different kinds of ultrasonic cleaning machines on the market.
Industrial Cleaners: As the name suggests, these cleaners are high-grade and are for industrial level use. As such, these cleaning tanks are either larger or custom designed. Similarly, the generators are more robust, delivering more power, and the transducers are of a higher grade.
Lab size/Tabletop Cleaners: Lab size or tabletop cleaners are available in a variety of sizes. They take up less space than an industrial cleaner and are designed for all day operations. They usually offer more accessories to assist with the cleaning operation.
Small Systems: These systems are generally used in home or small business settings. They offer the functionality of larger systems, but with less capacity and fewer features.
Not sure what type you need for your requirements? Get in touch and a member of our knowledgeable and friendly team will be happy to advise you.
Busting Some Myths
There are a number of myths out there regarding ultrasonic cleaning machines. However, many of them are untrue. Here are three of the most common and the facts behind them:
Myth 1: You can’t use aluminum in ultrasonic machines
This is simply not true. In fact, aluminum is sometimes used to test the uniformity of ultrasonic cleaning machines. Make sure to check your instruction manual to confirm which metals are safe. The type of cleaning solution also is important depending on the base metal.
Myth 2: Power doesn’t matter
Some people think that as long as you have an ultrasonic machine, it will work to clean any type of stain or contaminant. In fact, there are many variables that affect performance. For instance, the right proportion of watts per gallon is crucial to the right distribution of ultrasonic power throughout the tank.
Myth 3: The longer you clean an item, the cleaner it becomes
While this is true for most cleaning systems, it is not true in ultrasonic cleaning. All you need is one full cycle to get the cleaning done. Generally, you won’t have to go for any more cycles if your machine generates enough power - and doing so won’t produce any particular benefits.
Choosing the Right Cleaning Solution is Paramount
The cleaning process starts with choosing the right cleaning solution. Don’t use a substandard cleaning solution and expect the machine to perform at peak efficiency. Pay close attention and read the label before you buy a cleaning solution for your cleaning machine. Many solutions are water based, but this is not appropriate for all purposes.
Once you settle on the right cleaning solution for your machine and requirements, the rest is simple. First, rinse items to remove contaminants and debris. Next, place the items to be cleaned into an accessory basket and insert into the tank. Power up your device and begin cleaning. A normal cleaning cycle will take around 10 minutes.
Taking Good Care of Your Cleaner
Ultrasonic cleaning machines typically come with manufacturers’ warranties lasting up to 2.5 years. Take advantage of the warranty on your machine if you encounter any challenges.
However, warranties can be voided, and expensive errors can occur if the machine is abused or used incorrectly. Make sure that you use it according to the manufacturer’s specifications and follow the instruction manual at all times.
Have Additional Questions About Ultrasonic Cleaners?
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