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From Rust to Riches: Ultrasonic Cleaners and Rust Removal

Posted by Dr. Bob Sandor on

Any non-treated steel parts, tools and accessories left in the elements are susceptible to rust. Rust not only makes the tools look worn and unattractive, it can limit the tool's effectiveness, eventually eating away at the metal itself. In today's economy, more workers are looking for ways to maintain their tools and parts rather than take on the expense of replacing them. An ultrasonic cleaning bath is a highly efficient method for removing rust and restoring tools and parts to an attractive and working condition.

How an Ultrasonic Cleaner Works

Rust Removal through Ultrasonic Cleaning

Ultrasonic cleaners function by inducing cavitation in a biodegradable, water-based cleaning solution within a stainless steel tank. Cavitation is induced when millions of small bubbles produced by ultrasonic transducers attached to the tank implode, releasing their energy on contact with surfaces being cleaned. These bubbles touch all the tool's surfaces, even tiny holes and crevices, to blow away rust, dirt, oil and other particles. Although the duration of the cleaning varies with the condition of the tool or part, most cleaning tasks can be accomplished in under 30 minutes.

Ultrasonic Cleaning vs. Traditional Methods

Rust removal often requires some serious effort. Workers can often spend hours with oil rags, wire brushes and lubricants to remove rust and restore the tools and parts to something approximating their original condition. Even then, they will frequently miss a spot or be unable to access a narrow crevice or tiny indentation. The process of ultrasonic cleaning can accomplish what manual cleaning methods cannot, as the tiny bubbles in the tank can reach into these inaccessible spaces and remove rust stains quickly and easily.

Ultrasonic Cleaning Process

The process of ultrasonic cleaning is relatively simple. After selecting from the various models, such as this best ultrasonic cleaner, the user should follow the instruction on plugging in and setting up the machine. The next step would be to follow the directions for the ultrasonic cleaning solution. The type of solution and the required concentration can vary from task to task. The piece should be supported in a tray or wire basket, not inserted directly onto the bottom of the tank, as the vibrations could exacerbate damage to the tool and harm the tank.

Choosing an Ultrasonic Cleaning Solution

The type of cleaning solution the user chooses to remove rust is highly crucial. Water alone is not effective at removing rust. Several manufacturers specify a liquid soap that is designed for ultrasonic cleaning and works to clean rusted pieces. For pieces without any aluminum or plastic components, a highly acidic solution would be most effective at removing rust. Parts that have such components would require a milder acidic solution such as Elma tec clean S1. A rust inhibitor such as Elma K-S can be added to the cleaning bath to prevent rusting after cleaning; if the part is rinsed after cleaning the rust inhibitor should be added to the rinsing bath instead.

Features of Ultrasonic Cleaners

Many models of ultrasonic cleaners, including the TIH250MF2, have several features that ensure a thorough cleaning. This model can be adjusted to produce vibrations at 25,000 cycles per second (25kHz) for tough jobs, or at 45,000 cycles per second (45kHz) for tasks that require a finer touch. The unit also has a “sweep frequency” feature that induces slight variations in the frequency to prevent the formation of standing waves and hot and cold spots throughout the tank.

For more information on finding an ultrasonic cleaner that meets your needs, visit or contact the experts at tovatech at 973-821-3406.