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What's the Frequency, Kenneth? Selecting the Right Ultrasonic Cleaner

The advent of the ultrasonic cleaner has revolutionized cleaning and maintenance tasks in a wide range of settings. Professions ranging from musicians to police officers to dentists to jewelers have found that ultrasonic cleaners from iUtlrasonic help keep their equipment clean and prolong the life of the tools of their respective trades. However, many of the professionals who use ultrasonic cleaners every day do not understand how they work or, more importantly, the steps to take to get these machines to work at their best.

How an Ultrasonic Cleaner Works

Elma TIH500MF2 Ultrasonic

An ultrasonic cleaner generates high frequency sound waves (well above the range of human hearing) to agitate a solution of water and detergent within a stainless steel tank. A series of transducers convert electrical energy into these sound waves, which causes the solution to “cold boil”. The action of the sound waves produces millions of tiny bubbles in the solution. These bubbles can penetrate narrow crevices and tiny holes. As the pressure builds around these bubbles, they implode (a process known as “cavitation”) and release the hold of any contaminating agents from the surface of the part being cleaned.

Selecting the Proper Frequency

Although ultrasonic cleaners can be used in a variety of applications, these machines are not always “one-size-fits-all”. Some units employ different ultrasonic frequencies to accomplish different tasks.

Low-frequency machines typically operate at 25 - 28 kHz and are efficient at jobs that require heavy cleaning, such as for degreasing large auto parts. However, these units are also much louder and can damage delicate components.

A unit that operates at 35-40 kHz can accomplish most routine cleaning tasks. These machines may take longer to remove heavy residues, since the cavitation action is not as strong, but the higher frequencies produce more and smaller bubbles. These bubbles can get into the narrow places that hand tools can't reach.

Some specialty units operate at frequencies as high as 80 - 130 kHz. These machines are best suited for cleaning tasks that require a delicate touch, so they are often used to remove reside from electronics and other sensitive equipment.

Multi-Frequency Ultrasonic Cleaners

In order to accomplish more tasks, some ultrasonic cleaners are equipped to generate sound waves in more than one frequency. The Elma Transonic can operate at either 25 kHz for tough cleaning jobs, or at 45 kHz for tasks requiring a finer touch. These units also have a “sweep frequency” function that allows them to make continuous slight alterations in the frequency. These alterations allow the unit to clean the items more evenly and avoid “dead zones”.

One of the most important criteria when selecting an ultrasonic cleaner lies in understanding the tasks that the machine is intended to accomplish. A shop cleaning durable metal parts may require an industrial, low-frequency unit, while a fine jewelry outlet would need a quiet, higher frequency cleaner. A thorough knowledge of how an ultrasonic cleaner functions will give the user the tools needed to make the proper selection.

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


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