Lately I’ve been hearing more and more about ultrasonic cleaning. Apparently it is good for cleaning many different things, from automotive parts, to jewelry, and host of others in-between. One of the biggest benefits of ultrasonic cleaning is that it gets through all that dirt without the normal amount of toxic cleaning agents often required. And it is gentle enough for things like the crystals and other small parts used in wrist watches, or even your grandma’s engagement ring. But, what is ultrasonic cleaning, and why does it work? This is what I wanted to know, so, I went looking for answers.
Frequencies of about 16 kHz (kilohertz) and higher are considered to be ultrasonic (sounds that are beyond the range that the human ear can hear). Customarily the ultrasonic frequencies used for cleaning purposes are 20-80 kHz. The higher the frequency is set, the more intense the resulting energy, and therefore the higher the ability to remove smaller particles. So the frequency needed for successful cleaning depends upon what is trying to be cleaned.
The sound waves are created in an ultrasonic cleaning machine by a part called the transducer. The transducer is usually either built into the chamber or may be lowered into the cleaning chamber once the required type of fluid has been added. The transducer then begins to work sending sound waves through the fluid.
When sound waves move through a liquid, if they are strong enough, they will stretch the liquid beyond its capacity. When this happens, the sound waves actually tear the water apart, and create bubbles; millions and millions of tiny little bubbles. As these “cavitation bubbles” compress, a huge blast of energy is released from each bubble. It is this released energy that cleans the surface and especially all those tight crevices of your item.
Regardless of what you are going to clean with ultrasonic technology, your item will need to be in some type of protective wire basket or rack. There are special racks for medical instruments, a nylon coated basket for paint equipment cleaning, and even an enclosed basket for small parts, just to name a few! These custom wire baskets and racks are essential to the ultrasonic cleaning process. Without the protection that these types of wire baskets provide, the items could be damaged by the way the energy being released would throw them about the cleaning machine.
Ultrasonic cleaning has been beneficial for many industries. They have been helpful in hospitals in cleaning things like medical implants (such as hips) and surgical tools. The automotive industry uses it to clean many different types of car and truck parts. Other types of industries that benefit from ultrasonic cleaning include printing, sporting, engineering and aerospace industries. But, ultrasonic cleaners aren’t only for “professional” use. Today, there are small home use cleaning machines for things like jewelry, glasses and even dentures. You’ll be amazed at how well ultrasonic cleaning works! And now you’ll know why too!