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Free Ultrasonic Cleaner Guide

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Ultrasonic Cleaning Tip: Positioning the Parts

Investing in ultrasonic cleaners and ultrasonic cleaning solutions put you on the right path toward achieving fast, efficient and thorough parts cleaning.

That’s because sonic cleaning is proven to be the most effective means of removing contaminants from any part that can be safely immersed in a biodegradable cleaning bath. But as our title suggests, positioning the parts should not be done in a haphazard manner.

Simply dumping parts in the basket and immersing them in the cleaning bath will not only lead to unsatisfactory results, it may also result in damaging the parts. Here’s why:

Ultrasonic energy – that is cavitation induced by generator-powered transducers on the bottom of the cleaning tank – moves up through the solution to the surface, where it is reflected back down. In doing so minute bubbles contact and implode upon surfaces being cleaned and carry away contaminants. For maximum cleaning efficiency you should position parts to allow maximum exposure to sonication. Ideally they should be positioned in a single layer; otherwise parts above the bottom layer will experience diminished sonic cleaning action.

In other words, do not overload the basket. If you are cleaning several parts and this proves impractical periodically remove the basket from the solution, reposition the parts then re-immerse them.

Note: Never reach into an operating bath. It may be hot, and cavitation energy can penetrate your skin to act on body fluids.

Parts with machined holes should be placed so the holes are vertical or diagonal in the bath. This allows contaminants to fall out as they are blasted away by sonic action. Blind holes can trap air prohibiting cleaning solution entry. If parts contain blind holes they must be positioned and repositioned as necessary to remove trapped air before cleaning. Be sure to drain the holes before moving parts to a rinsing tank.

If you have large scale cleaning operations on a regular basis ask us about the Elmasonic X-tra Flex series of cleaners. These provide precise ±2 cm vertical agitation that significantly speeds and improves cleaning results. Companion ultrasonic rinsing tanks with agitation are also available.

Avoid Potential Surface Damage when Positioning Parts

Sonic vibration in a cleaning basket will cause parts to vibrate against each other and against wire mesh cleaning baskets. This vibration can damage highly finished or machined surfaces, yet another reason to avoid overloading baskets. (See below for an exception.) If finishes are highly critical ask us about a silicon nap mat or polycarbonate plate that fits on the bottom of the basket.

Correct positioning of these dirty parts helps ensure thorough sonic cleaning

The exception noted above relates to cleaning small metal parts in bulk when they are not sensitive to scratching. In this case ask us about equipment with a rotating basket that may provide damage-free cleaning.

For more suggestions on parts positioning please check our post on cleaning tubing and blind holes.

Then contact our ultrasonic cleaning experts at 973-440-2191 to discuss equipment, processes and cleaning solution formulations to meet your requirements


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