Optimization Through Ultrasonics: Precision

Ultrasonic technology has made great strides in multiple industries, the cleaning industry being one of the most successful. The process of ultrasonic cavitation is suitable for a plethora of manufacturing cleaning applications, whether it’s decontaminating manufactured products or cleaning the machinery that is used to produce them.

With the amazing strength and benefits of ultrasonic cleaning, it is not surprising that many manufacturing facilities have started using ultrasonic cleaning technologies to improve their efficiency.  Optimization can be key to the bottom line of any manufacturing plant, and ultrasonic cleaning can deliver the best results. By utilizing ultrasonic cleaning, you can increase the quality and rate of production through a better, and more efficient cleaning process that other traditional cleaners just can’t provide.

Precision Cleaning

When compared to other methods of cleaning, ultrasonics is the superior choice for a precision and uniform clean. Spray-wash cabinets do well at removing surface dirt, but cannot reach into crevices of parts or equipment. Hot tanks melt away grease and grime, but are not reliable when it comes to getting a consistent clean every time.

In the ultrasonic cleaning process, turbulence in the liquid is created by “cavitation.” The primary cleaning mechanism is the energy released through cavitation. The bubbles are so tiny they are not visible to the eye, yet when each bubble collapses, it creates a huge shock wave on a microscopic level and a powerful cleaning action that removes dirt, grease, oil, and more. When the ultrasonic process takes place, combined with non-toxic detergents, parts and equipment experience a clean that reaches every surface and crevice. Manual and other conventional means to cleaning hardly compete with the power of ultrasonic cleaning.

Not only does your equipment get thoroughly cleaned to run at peak efficiency, but the parts and products a plant produces can receive that same kind of clean. When cleaning the products, you are not only guaranteeing that they go to customers and clients in the best condition possible, but you create a reputation for your facility that only the most quality parts are created and sold.

Make no mistake: ultrasonic cleaning truly creates a precision clean for your parts and equipment. Ultrasonic cleaners contribute other ways to optimize your facility to peak efficiency by increasing production speed and efficiency in addition to cutting costs from your bottom line. Be on the lookout for the continuation of a series of blogs in “Optimization Through Ultrasonics” to continue to learn how ultrasonic cleaning can benefit your facility, and why it would be worth your while to invest in ultrasonic technology.

Ultrasonic Cleaning – The Layman’s Explanation

Ultrasonic Cleaning has been used in a wide range of applications in both science and industry over the last thirty years. In cases where extreme cleanliness is required, ultrasonics have proven to be more effective than mechanical or chemical means. Cleaning with ultrasonics has the distinct advantage of penetrating complex geometries and removing tightly bonded contaminants from a wide variety of surfaces.

Most people that see an ultrasonic cleaning tank for the first time, they tend to see it as a vibrating tank that simply vibrates the contaminants from the part to be cleaned. This is far from the truth. Ultrasonics is much more complex and has little to do with simple vibration. Ultrasonic cleaning is a result of sound waves introduced into the cleaning liquid by means of a series of “transducers” mounted to the cleaning tank. The sound travels through the tank and creates waves of compression and expansion in the liquid. In the compression wave, the molecules of the cleaning liquid are compressed together tightly. Conversely, in the expansion wave, the molecules are pulled apart rapidly. The expansion is so dramatic, that the molecules are ripped apart creating microscopic bubbles. The bubbles are not seen by the naked eye since they are so small and exist for only a split second of time.

The bubbles contain a partial vacuum while they exist. As the pressure around the bubbles becomes great, the fluid around the bubble rushes in collapsing the bubble very rapidly. When this occurs, a jet of liquid is created that may travel as fast as 650 miles per hour. As the gases inside the bubble are compressed at this very high rate, they rise in temperature to as high as 5000 degrees Celsius, which is roughly the temperature of the surface of the sun. The liquid immediately surrounding the bubble area is also raised to approximately 2000 degrees Celsius. This extreme temperature, combined with the liquid jet velocity provides a very intense cleaning action in a minute area. Because of the very short duration of the bubble expansion and collapse cycle, the liquid surrounding the bubble quickly absorbs the heat and the area cools quickly.

There are many variables that affect the ultrasonic cleaning process. The first variable that must be considered is the matching of power supplies and transducers. Generator output frequency must closely match the design frequency of the transducer. This matching is a part of the design process and is not something that can be changed by the user.

The second variable to be considered is the frequency of the ultrasonics. The frequency relates to the number of times that a compression and expansion cycle completed per second. This determines the number of times per second that bubbles can be produced and the size of the bubble itself. In general, the higher the frequency, the smaller the bubble produced. The two typical frequencies used commercially today, are 25 kHz and 40 kHz. 25 kHz has fewer bubbles than 40kHz and are relatively large. The jet produced during bubble implosion is very powerful and very abrasive which can harm delicate items. This frequency is suitable for cleaning larger. massive items with stubborn contaminants. A 40 kHz ultrasonic cleaner generates very small bubbles that can penetrate very small holes and crevices. This frequency is used in most cleaning applications, often where other types of mechanical cleaning equipment cannot reach.

Higher frequencies like 68kHz, 132kHz, and 170kHz are also offered at UPC for applications with cleaning specifications in the sub-micron levels, like precision optics and computer hard drive platters.

A third variable is the type of cleaning fluid used in the tank. Fluids have a “tensile strength” which holds the molecules together within them.  Pure water has such a high tensile strength that most ultrasonic generators cannot produce cavitation in it. Since cavitation involves the separation of fluid molecules to create cavities, the fluids used for ultrasonic cleaning must have relatively low tensile strengths so that cavitation can be produced without over taxing the ultrasonic transducers and generator.

Yet another variable in ultrasonic cleaning is the temperature of the cleaning liquid. When liquids are heated, they become more dense and the sound waves travel through them faster. Optimum ultrasonic cleaning in water takes place in the 120 degree – 140 degree Fahrenheit range.

Ultrasonic cleaning is indeed a complex science. Consultation with a reputable manufacturer insures the best match of equipment to your particular needs.

The Importance of a Warranty for Capital Equipment Purchases

I think we can all agree that an expressed, written warranty is a very valuable component to a capital equipment purchase. We need to know that our funds are being well spent and the equipment we are purchasing will be covered for a period of time to be free of defects in workmanship. A warranty is like health insurance, we hope we never need it but when we do we are glad we have it.

During the bidding process the length of warranty should not be overlooked. While similar products may have different price tags they also may have different length of warranties, this should be figured into the equation. The longer and more comprehensive the warranty, the lower the overall potential cost of ownership.

The bidding process is also a good time to vette your potential suppliers, after all the warranty is only as good as the company providing it. During the bidding phase pay close attention to how responsive the company is to your calls and emails…a company that is slow to respond while trying to earn your business does not bode well for continuing customer service after they have your money. That’s not to say that a company that is fast to respond during the quoting stage will provide great customer service after, but it sure increases the odds that they will.  Slow response can be a symptom of the overall culture of the company you are doing business with.

My recommendation is that if money is close to being equal you need to weigh the warranty and the service you were provided during the quoting stage in your final decision.

A long warranty coupled with great customer service is a very valuable combination.

Clean Manufacturing: Three Stories on Greener Solutions in Manufacturing Facilities

A common concern for many manufacturing plants now is the sort of waste they leave behind. With new laws and regulations, it is important that companies find new and inventive ways to limit the energy and resources they put out, which ultimately turn to waste. While the call for change is slow for many manufacturers, there are certain companies out there that are making great strides in the way their plants operate in order to reduce their wastefulness. There are now many companies that are going “green,” but here are a few examples of the biggest ones that are attempting to make the biggest difference in the way their manufacturing plants function.

Frito-Lay in Arizona

In an attempt to create the future of green manufacturing plants, Frito-Lay has already made the jump with one of their flagship manufacturing plants located in Arizona. The manufacturing plant is a 75% net-zero energy plant. In other words, three fourths of the plant’s energy and resources are being reused and recycled.  The manufacturing plant features a water-recovery system that recycles 75% of its water, a biomass boiler powered by wood waste from local municipalities, a 5 MW solar photovoltaic system, and other assorted tech to keep the plant as “green” as it can be. Although not the model for all of Frito-Lay’s manufacturing plants, this particular plant hopes to lead the company in the future of research for alternative methods to reserving the most power and resources, while being just as productive, if not more so.

Volkswagen in Tennessee

At the end of 2011, Volkswagen Chattanooga was noted to be the only automotive manufacturing facility to receive the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification due to its recent solar installation. At the time, the solar installation was known as one of the largest at any manufacturing plant. The solar park contained 33,600 solar modules, designed to produce 13.1 gigawatt hours of electricity per year. In comparison, that is the equivalent to the energy consumed annually by 1,200 homes in the area of the manufacturing plant. As well, instead of selling some of that power produced by the solar park back to utilities, all of it is used to help power the plant. It powers 12.5% of the plant during full production times, and 100% during non-production times.

Apple

Although it may seem no surprise Apple is a leading innovator in green technologies and production, even their products are being produced more safely and efficiently.  Apple has effectively eliminated the use of two harmful toxins on the production floor, and on all their products. These toxins are n-hexane, which is used to clean smudges from screens prior to packing them in boxes, and benzene, which is used to coat different electronic components. Other electronic producers have taken steps to reduce and limit the use of these products as well, but what makes Apple unique is that they are the first to completely eliminate the use of the toxins from all of their products, and across all their manufacturing plants. Overall, many electronics companies are failing to address the carbon footprint they are leaving behind. What Apple is doing is leading the way for all electronic companies to become environmentally friendly.