Ultrasonics – The Safer Way to Clean


Ultrasonic cleaning is safe and effectiveUltrasonic cleaning just may the the single safest way to clean your parts. Read on to find out why. 

Anybody who works with or around any kind of industrial equipment knows just how important safety is.

An injury not only effects the employee who received it, but also the company as a whole through lost labor and insurance costs.

This begs the question; Why do companies still have their employees clean parts by hand with dangerous, toxic chemicals when there’s a much faster, safer method available?

Eliminate dangerous chemicals

When cleaning parts by hand, you are exposing yourself to whatever chemicals are necessary to clean the specific soil from the part. Often times these chemicals are extremely toxic, or even caustic, and can spread fumes throughout the work area.

You can shield yourself to some degree with heavy rubber gloves, goggles, and a face mask, but these make the job even more cumbersome and uncomfortable. Ultrasonic cleaners on the other hand don’t use toxic, caustic chemicals to do the job, instantly making them much safer for the user.

Another isue with cleaning parts by hand is the parts themselves. As one might imagine, there’s a risk of serious injury when cleaning bladed parts, heavy parts, or other parts with sharp, pointed edges.

Not only can these parts themselves cause injury with poor or careless handling, but lets not forget that we’re using harsh chemicals to clean them, so there’s the risk of dangerous, toxic chemicals getting into an open wound.

Once again ultrasonics beats out hand cleaning with the simple fact that the ultrasonic bath is doing all the scrubbing, so other than lowering the parts into the tank and removing them after a cycle, the employee need not come in contact with the parts.

Dangers of compressed air and water

The use of toxic chemicals isn’t the only inherently unsafe, yet popular way to clean parts. Compressed water and air are often used to quickly process parts, and do indeed have their advantages. Compressed water is great at removing hard to clean soils, and compressed air can blow debris out of even tiny spaces.

See what OSHA says about the dangers of compressed air

This cleaning convenience does have a major drawback however. Since the air/water is under extremely high pressure, if a hose or valve were to come loose, the result would be the hose flailing around, causing a major safety hazard. High pressure system dislodge the particulates we’re trying to remove – which is great, that’s what we want – but then send them flying at high speed. This is what we used to call a “missle hazard” in the Navy.

Another huge concern is that when using high pressure water, a minor slip in direction could very well result in the amputation of fingers or toes! Ultrasonic cleaning shares none of these risks, and actually cleans more completely than either method.

Finally, almost every other type of parts cleaning, whether it’s cleaning carburetors, machine components, or firearms, requires some effort on the part of the user. Over time, the stress on the body from constant bending, reaching, scrubbing, lifting, and scraping can cause serious injury, not to mention the chance of a freak accident. With ultrasonic cleaning, one need not have any of these concerns.

The only lifting involved is placing and removing parts from the tank, and all other cleaning activities are performed by the unit itself. Is it any wonder that ultrasonic parts cleaning is quickly becoming an industry standard in many fields?

The above, while somewaht of an indictment of other cleaning practices, is not meant to present ultrasonics as a cleaning method without any risk. Just about every industrial process has guidelines that need to be followed.The great thing about sonic cleaning though, is that just a few prctices will deliver a nearly risk free cleaning process.

Let’s see what they are…

Ultrasonic Cleaning Safety – Best Practices

  1. First and foremost – keep your hands out of the tank. You can easily find people who say they often reach into their tanks to retrieve parts. This is stupid. Ultrasonic cavitation is like any other sound – it keeps going until it hits a barrier. Any open would or cut on your hands is an invitation to cavitate your blood. There is also evidence that you can damage the soft tissues in your joints.
  2. Thankfully, rule #1 is easy to follow! You’ll be using a basket or tray. Not only will that keep your hands out of the tank, but it will enable you to avoid another potential source of harm…
  3. Your parts may be hot. Tank temperature, while dialed in for your specific application, is usually 150 – 160 F. that’s hot. For a frame of reference, consider that most people have their hot water set to 130 – 135 F. You wouldn’t want to shower with just the hot water running, and you sure don’t want to grab hot parts.
  4. Use the correct cleaning solution. Normally, you’ll be using a relatively mild alkaline solution in your tank. The Branson cleaning solutions we sell are all biodegradable, will not burn your skin, and do not release a harsh or unpleasant odor. Remember your transducers are doing the mechanical work, and for many applications, all we need is a surfactant or wetting agent to get the job done.

How easy is that? Just a few simple rules, safe and happy workers, and parts cleaned with a level of precision your can’t get with any other method.

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  • David Huckabay
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