How does an ultrasonic cleaner work?

How does an ultrasonic cleaner work?

Nowadays, you can use multiple solutions to clean objects such as jewelry, eyeglasses, small mechanical parts, and other related objects, but in this article, let us take a deep look into a famous process called « ultrasonic cleaning »? So what’s it? How to clean an object using ultrasonic technology?

What’s the ultrasonic cleaning concept?

Ultrasonic cleaning is an accelerated process that uses ultrasound with a frequency generally ranging between 20 and 400 kHz to create non-audible sound waves responsible for cleaning the object submerged into the disturbed liquid.

To be able to agitate the fluid in such an adequate manner, this process uses cavitations bubbles and thus allowing the disturbance to produce high forces responsible of removing adhering impurities on multiple ranges of materials such as metals, plastics, diamonds, etc..

The impurities that you can remove can be in almost any imaginable type, such as blood, oil, grease, bacteria… that’s what made this process such a successful one.

How does an ultrasonic cleaner work?

Generally, ultrasonic cleaning takes action by submerging the desired piece into a bath:

-The device responsible for the whole process contains a tank big enough to ensure that you can submerge the entire dirty piece.
-Water or another solvent, with eventually some detergent product, will fill the whole tank.
-On the walls (internal or external) or at the bottom of the tank, a transducer receives electrical energy at an ultrasonic frequency by the oscillation of the piezoelectric transducers.

-The transducer produces ultrasonic waves with successive phases of compression and decompression which generate in this liquid a large number of microscopic bubbles by the phenomenon of cavitations.
-The implosion of these bubbles, during the compression phase, causes turbulence at the part you want to clean.
-These turbulences detach and remove impurities from the piece, or accelerate dissolution.

 

Cleaning solution

Using plain water in the ultrasonic cleaning process could provide some noticeable results but definitely not optimal ones. The cleaning solution contains ingredients designed to make ultrasonic cleaning more effective. You can find multiple choices of solutions for different kind of dirt and materials around the internet. There are even tutorials on how to create ones yourself if you want to save your money.

The solutions are mostly used warm, you will find cleaners that work by copulating heating process with the ultrasonic one. If you want to learn more about the types of solutions used with ultrasonic cleaners, then check this article.

How long does ultrasonic cleaning generally take?

Well, unfortunately, we can’t quite give a plain answer, and not even give an approximation. This is because we must take multiple factors into account:

The number of impurities and dirt existing on the object, the type of object you are cleaning, the solution that you are using, the temperature of the tank, do you want the cleaning to be deep and precise, or superficial, etc..
But as you can guess, it’s a process that takes a little amount of time compared to the manual one.

For jewelry, for example, this time varies between 1 and 20 min considering all the factors listed above into consideration.

What kind of maintenance does an ultrasonic cleaner require?

Just like any other machine, the ultrasonic cleaner needs regular maintenance in order to ensure efficiency and high-end results. It does not take much effort and consists in changing the filters and cleaning the tanks from the leftover residues.

How much does an ultrasonic cleaner cost?

Well again, that depends on many factors:
The size of the cleaning tank: the market is flooded with all sorts of dimensions, whether it is a tank for you average ring or earrings, with its 1L volume, or a tank for a professional that requires a 30L volume, it’s all available on the internet.

The quality of the product: It can be summarized in the materials used to create the ultrasonic cleaner, the quality of the electronics, sensors, monitor used, etc…

The brand of the product: just like clothes or cars, there are many constructors involved in the ultrasonic cleaners industry, and as you can guess, a well-known manufacturer will probably charge you more than a modest one.
But here is an approximation for you guys:
For ultrasonic cleaners available to the public, you can find prices that range between 30$ up to a 300$.

The advantages over other principles of immersion cleaning, brushing or high-pressure jet

1-efficiency: you can clean objects with the most complex shapes by the ultrasonic bubbles. They can penetrate the smallest of gaps, parts, whether or not made of different materials, it may be cleaned without being dismantled
2- safety: no projection of the cleaning liquid.

History

Ultrasonic cleaning occurred by accident in the early 1930s by one of the laboratories at the radio corporation of America. It took place when they were using Freon to cool the internal components of a radio. While at it, they perceived a wave action surrounding a crystal that was operating at 300KHZ.

Despite being quite a discovery, they did not intensify their research on the subject for years.
The first industrial applications of ultrasonic cleaning took place in early 1950. However, domestic, personal and widespread use of this technology occurred almost two decades later because years of research allowed the scientists to create more affordable machines.

Conclusion

The efficiency of the ultrasonic cleaning allowed it to be extremely used in many domains. However, one must keep in mind that this process has limitations also.

For example, you can’t use it on devices such as microphones, because you can damage them by the high intensity of vibrations. So, before you use it on any object, make sure that it can endure the whole process without problems.

 

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