The Latest From the Sonicsonline Blog...
Degassing Your Ultrasonic Cleaner
When you fill your ultrasonic bath with a new trank of cleaning
solution, it's important to "De-gass" the tank before you start
cleaning. You may be thinking "I've never heard of "Degassing"
before, what is it, and why is it so important?". In short, there's
a lot of trapped gas in a brand new tank of cleaning solution that
needs to be forced out before you start cleaning. This gas can
actually rob your ultrasonic cleaner of power, as it's wasting
energy removing gas from the tank, instead of cleaning your parts!
The Ultimate Guide to Jewelry Cleaning
This guide covers steam, manual and ultrasonic jewelry cleaning,
along with jewelry storage and more. Your jewelry is an
investment, and it deserves the best care and cleaning you can
It doesn't matter if you've just gotten your first nice piece of
jewelry as a present from your grandma, or if you have a massive
collection of fine pieces, caring for your jewelry is a prime
Why You Should Consider an Ultrasonic Cleaner
There are any number of cleaning systems you could use; everything from glorified dishwashers, conveyors with "cleaning tunnels", spray wash wands or even a simple diptank.
Yet even with all of these other options, ultrasonic cleaning has remained the choice for precision cleaning over the past 60+ years - let's find out why...
Ultrasonic energy penetrates into even the tiniest crevices and cavities, meaning that if your parts and assemblies have blind holes, fine detail, or other hard to clean features, you can be sure that your cleaning application will be completed - truly completed, with no manual touch-up required post process.
Sometimes ultrasonic cleaning is the only way to meet specifications, as in the cleaning of precision parts like compact disc and DVD masters, and certain electronic components.
Sonic Cleaners are faster than any other conventional cleaning method in the removal of soil and contamination, especially from hard to reach surfaces. This means that entire sub-assemblies can be cleaned while still assembled. The time, effort, and money wasted on dis-assembly and re-assembly can be dispensed with. Usually the initial outlay for equipment can be quickly recouped because of these savings alone.
Consistency, Repeatability and Dependability in Your Cleaning Process
It doesn't matter what your cleaning requirements are - once you have your process dialed in, ultrasonics will deliver accurate, repeatable results. Digital ultrasonic tanks allow you to precisely define temperature and cleaning power.
Some models also provide automatic regulation to compensate for changing loads in the tank, making them perfect for both manufacturing and R&D applications.
Designing Your Perfect Cleaning Process
Before you choose an ultrasonic cleaner or cleaning solution, it is important to take stock of the challenge ahead of you. Properly defining your application in advance is the key to success. Grab a notepad and a pencil...
Take inventory of your parts
Measure the largest and smallest times you will want to clean in your tank. Most people choose a tank based on the most common 80% of what they are cleaning. It's normal to have a few parts that are very large, and some that are very small, while the majority of your cleaning work falls in a middle range.
Very large parts can be cleaned by immersing one side or end, cleaning that, and flipping them around. This is perfectly OK, and even provides you with some instantaneous feedback on cleaning effectiveness, as you can compare the cleaned and uncleaned halves.
Smaller parts can be cleaned in beakers or solid trays to prevent them getting lost in the tank, or falling through the openings in mesh or perforated baskets.
Do your parts have temperature or other limitations? Are there certain chemicals they cannot be exposed to? Should they be in a specific orientation for proper draining after cleaning? Now is the time to record all of this, before you move on to the next step...
Make sure you have an objective specification for cleanliness
"Joe down in finish says it's okay." "This is how they usually look." "We just ask Jane to give us the thumbs up on the batch."
The above are not objective cleaning specifications. If anything, they're a recipe for disaster. Too bad if Joe or Jane is out for some reason. And what if you change parts, or suppliers, or get some new equipment?
The way to make your cleaning process impervious to change is to get buy in from all responsible parties on a cleanliness specification. It should look something like this:
When observed at 30x magnification, no particulate matter in excess of 50 microns is observed in any of four randomly selected 50mm x 50mm areas.
It's clear, concise, and there can be no argument about whether or not your freshly cleaned part meets the spec.
How to Choose Your Cleaner and Accessories
Now that you know exactly what you want to clean, and what your goal is, you can dial in which cleaner and accessories you need. As noted before you should size your cleaning tank to accommodate your middle 80% of parts - at least initially.
Bear in mind that a 20" by 10" by 10" deep tank isn't really 20x10x10. Remember that we can go corner to corner and use the Pythagorean Theorem to calculate this:
(20*20)+(10*10) = Diagonal side squared, or 400+100 = 500, and now take the root = 22.36"
*Don't forget that your accessories and fixturing may take up some room as well. Typically a mesh basket in a large tank will eat up about an inch all around, including depth.
There is another consideration however:
Throughput: the amount of material or items passing through a system or process.
Maybe all of your parts are 2" x 2" cubes. But if you need to clean 800 per hour, obviously you'll need a larger tank to accommodate this.
Next up is part geometry. very small parts can be placed in beakers or solid trays, while large parts may need no fixturing at all beyond what is needed to keep them off of the tank bottom. (This can be accomplished with a support rack.)
In some cases, you may need special fixturing to orient the parts in a specific fashion during cleaning, or for some other reason. We can help you with that aspect of the process. There may be other considerations like maximum part temperature, or proper loading sequence that come into play as well.
You can call us if you have questions about equipment or cleaning processes. We've been doing this for a very long time, and often we know of a quick solution for seemingly intractable problems.
Seven rules for choosing an ultrasonic cleaner
Go with a major ultrasonic manufacturer. As the old saying goes, "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM." IBM may no longer hold the dominant position they used to, but the sentiment holds true. Buy a known brand, and make sure you can get service domestically. All of our suppliers have service centers here in the USA, and in many cases they have multiple centers overseas as well.
- Define your cleaning process before - not after - you get your equipment. Usually, once you put water in a cleaner, it is considered used. Make sure you know what you are getting, and what you really need.
- Don't skimp on tank size. All other things being equal, a larger tank will allow for the occasional "oddball" part, and give you some leeway in the event of increased throughput requirements, or part changes over time. It's not unusual for us to get calls from a customer who wants to trade up in size, but I have never had someone call and say "My tank's too big."
- Get everything at once. Make sure you have all of your accessories, the cleaning solution, and any other items listed and set to arrive more or less at the same time. Remember that cleaning solutions usually ship ground.
- Make sure you understand the machine specifications and capabilities. In addition to calling us for a consultation (free, of course) we provide literature and manuals for all of our products here on the website.
- Make sure you understand the cleaning solution you are planning to use. Again, literature, material compatibility charts, and MSDS sheets are here on the website. Depending on your organization, you may need to provide this information to your environmental officer.
- Finally a short list of things people usually forget to consider:
- Table or cart to place the cleaner on
- Disposal of the used cleaning solution
- Power requirements
- Storage of the machine, accessories, and cleaning solutions when not in use
- Infeed and outfeed tables (for production environments)
Why not give us a call? We're happy to help with your cleaning application. Whether you need to buy an ultrasonic tank now, in the future, or even if you already have a cleaner you bought elsewhere, we're ready to assist any way we can!