Ultrasonic Parts Cleaner Specification Guide
Cleaning parts, whether new or refurbished, can represent a significant amount of time and, without the proper equipment, can be quite unpleasant. That's why savvy mechanics, hobbyists, manufacturers, restoration specialists and others dealing with dirt of most any type rely on an ultrasonic parts cleaner for fast, damage-free results.
This post describes why ultrasonic energy is the preferred means of removing all types of contaminants from any item that can be safely immersed in an aqueous, biodegradable ultrasonic cleaning solution.
Then it provides examples of where folks like you are using ultrasonic parts cleaners to solve their tough cleaning challenges.
And concludes with a specification guide for your ultrasonic parts cleaner.
Here's Why Ultrasonic Parts Cleaners Work so Well
If you know how ultrasonic cleaners clean you are welcome to skip to the next section.
Ultrasonic parts cleaners come in a variety of sizes from tabletop units holding under a gallon to industrial units holding hundreds of gallons of ultrasonic cleaning solution (options referenced below).
When the unit is activated generator-powered transducers affixed to the tank are excited and vibrate at ultrasonic frequencies such as 32,000 cycles per second (32 kHz).
The vibrations cause the tank bottom to vibrate as a membrane. This causes the formation of microscopic vacuum bubbles that implode violently on the surfaces of parts immersed in the solution.
These powerful implosions blast loose and carry away even the most tenacious contaminants from the surfaces. And because the bubbles are so small, they penetrate fine cracks, crevices and blind holes of products being cleaned - surfaces impossible to reach via mechanical brushing. This cleaning process is called ultrasonic cavitation.
And because most ultrasonic cleaners are equipped with timers, you can load the unit with parts, set the timer and attend to other matters while cavitation action does the job.
Here's Where Ultrasonic Parts Cleaners are Used
Here's a far-from-complete list of applications where the power of ultrasonic energy speeds cleaning and improves results:
- An ultrasonic cleaning process eliminates risking damage that can result from manually removing post-molding contaminants such as flashing, grease and other residues from costly plastic injection molds.
- Ultrasonic energy is unsurpassed in terms of speed and thoroughness when it comes to removing dried grease, varnishes and other contaminants from gasoline engine carbs, fuel lines and other critical components at lawn & garden centers.
- Operators offering engine maintenance services at marinas rely on the thoroughness of sonic cleaning to quickly and completely remove deposits of grease, rust, carbon, varnish and other contaminants from outboard motor carburetors, pumps, crankshafts, gears and other components with the added advantage of minimal disassembly.
- Cleaning once fired brass cartridge casings prior to reloading.
- Ultrasonic cleaners are available in a variety of sizes suitable for clock repair shops and hobbyists.
- While several methods for cleaning fuel injectors are on the market, an ideal method is simply immersing the injectors in an ultrasonic cleaning solution and letting cavitation action – ultrasonic energy – do the job in minutes.
Specification Tips on Ultrasonic Parts Cleaning
TIP NO. 1: SELECTING YOUR ULTRASONIC PARTS CLEANER
When you are ready to decide on purchasing a unit there are a number of considerations you should keep in mind. Rather than go into detail on this post we suggest you visit our post on How to Select and Use your Ultrasonic Cleaner. This post also describes in detail how ultrasonic cleaners work.
As noted in that post, the number and size of parts you'll be cleaning, as well as the degree of contamination to be removed, serves as a guide to the type of unit you'll need. If your requirements are minimal, we suggest considering the Elmasonic E+ series available in cleaning solution capacities from .25 to 7.5 gallons.
Should your parts be heavily contaminated and require long-term cycles a suggestion is the Elmasonic TI-H series with capacities from 1 to 5 gallons.
Elma TI-H units feature heavy-duty stainless steel cleaning solution tanks that can operate continuously up to 8 hours a day, with dual frequencies of either 25/45 kHz or 35/130 kHz plus offering variable ultrasonic power. These important features enable you tailor the operation to your ultrasonic parts cleaning requirements.
If your parts cleaning operations are large scale, take a look at the floor mounted Elmasonic XT series with cleaning solution capacities from 8 to 67 gallons, operating up to 8 hours a day at 25 or 45 kHz.
Please peruse our other offerings to make your ultrasonic parts cleaner selection and feel free to call our experts for suggestions.
TIP NO. 2: PARTS POSITIONING
Dumping parts in the ultrasonic parts cleaning 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 parts 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 cavitation 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.
TIP NO. 3: COMPLEX SHAPES
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. Follow the same precautions noted in Tip No. 2 regarding repositioning.
TIP NO. 4: AVOID POTENTIAL SURFACE DAMAGE
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. (This is another reason to avoid overloading baskets.)
If finishes are highly critical ask us about a silicon nap mat or polycarbonate plate that fits on the bottom of the basket.
For more suggestions on parts positioning please check our post on cleaning tubing and blind holes.
TIP NO. 5: SELECTING YOUR ULTRASONIC CLEANING SOLUTION
As with ultrasonic cleaners on the market there are also a variety of cleaning solution chemistries available for cleaning parts.
A widely used cleaning solution formulation is elma tec clean A4 used on engine parts, metals, glass and ceramics to remove oil, grease, combustion residues and other contaminants. Biodegradable, it is diluted to 2 to 5% with water, making it extremely economical for an ultrasonic parts cleaner.
For information on this product and other options for your ultrasonic parts cleaner please check our list of ultrasonic cleaning chemicals. Another resource is our post on how to select an ultrasonic cleaning solution.
TIP NO. 6: MAINTAINING YOUR PARTS CLEANING SOLUTION
The above link note that contaminants removed during the cleaning process remain in the cleaning solution and eventually reduce performance.
While performance can be extended by the means suggested in that post, eventually the solution must be changed. Drain and dispose of it along with skimmed off contaminants according to local regulations. At this time take the time to clean the tank following the user manual. Then fill and degas fresh solution to continue your cleaning operations.
Questions? Call or Chat With Us
The cleaning experts at iUltrasonic are available to discuss equipment, processes, and cleaning solution formulations to meet your requirements.