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Removing Chrome Plating Using an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Using a cleaning solution stronger than just a dilution of a household all-purpose cleaner can remove metal plating such as chrome from surfaces on plastic models. Since cavitation occurs everywhere on objects being cleaned the process is more efficient and gentle than other stripping processes.

Ultrasonic stripping chrome plating is a process requiring the dissolving of at least part of the chrome in a solution that is quite corrosive. A cleaning solution that has been reported to work for removal of chrome plating from plastic models parts is “Super Clean Tough Task Cleaner-Degreaser". Though the stripping solution does not attack the plastic itself, it can damage skin and should therefore never be allowed contact with bare skin. If skin is exposed, the cleaner needs to be washed off with water immediately.

So how do you pick suitable ultrasonic cleaning equipment for the removal of chrome plating? Since there is a wide range of makes, models, sizes, power, and prices of ultrasonic cleaners, it is not easy to choose one that is ideally suited for this task. The price is of course a concern. The price of an ultrasonic cleaner from basically depends on the ultrasonic power and availability of advanced features such as variable power and frequency, as well as the overall quality of the equipment.

Most ultrasonic cleaning units are built with piezoelectric ultrasonic transducers. Piezoelectric transducers are very efficient in converting the electrical energy from the generator into ultrasonic energy in the cleaning bath. However, it is very important to know the effective ultrasonic power in the tank, as many low cost units are underpowered.

Some units meant for cleaning jewelry and similar items are constructed for short run times. This might be ok for the removal of chrome plating, but if you intend to use the cleaner for other tasks that need longer running times you might reconsider.

Short running timers might be an indication that the unit is not able to withstand long operation times due to overheating, and will eventually break down if run continuously. It is therefore vital to check the runtime of the timer if you intend to use the cleaner for tasks that will take longer than the removal of chrome plating. Some units have timers that have a steady setting. These are meant to be used continuously and are more durable than other units.

Another factor to consider is the size and shape of the tank. Rectangular baskets work well for model parts if you plan to strip more than one part at a time as they will keep the parts from crowding together during the cleaning process. Unlike a surgical instrument cleaner which is relatively smaller than most cleaners, make sure to choose a unit that has sufficient size to fit your biggest model part and that is deep enough to allow complete submersion of the parts.


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