One Simple Decision: The single choice that will ensure better ultrasonic cleaning

Despite the title of this post, we won’t pretend choosing to adopt ultrasonic cleaning technology is a quick, easy decision, nor is it always easy to choose what company to purchase your cleaners from. Even the best systems may be less effective in some applications than others.

But the heart of any ultrasonic cleaner is the transducer, the source of the waves that cleanse everything from hard drive components to engine blocks. When you’re mulling over an ultrasonic cleaner purchase, the transducer technology can be as important a consideration as the type of processor in a new a laptop, or whether your family vehicle has all-wheel drive.

So, the one choice that will ensure your ultrasonic cleaning is the best it can be is to choose a piezoelectric ceramic transducer that uses Simultaneous Multi-Frequency® (SMF) technology, specifically our own Vibra-bar® transducer.

Piezoelectric ceramic transducers has been clearly established as the preeminent transducer type.  They’re used in more than 90% of ultrasonic cleaning equipment produced today, and are used almost exclusively in sonar transducers used by the military. Our Vibra-bar® transducers use this technology.

What is Simultaneous Multi-Frequency®, you ask? Instead of only producing waves at 40kHz, SMF® units also produce waves above and below that frequency at the same time. This makes the cleaner more effective and more reliable over the long term.

Let’s cover three benefits you’ll receive from a 40 kHz Vibra-bar® Simultaneous Multi-Frequency® system:

Improved cleaning performance

Ultrasonic cleaning occurs through cavitation. The sound waves produce bubbles on the surface of the item being cleaned, then collapse those bubbles. These implosions create jets of liquid heated to approximately 5,000 degrees, which scrub contaminants off the object. The 40kHz frequency is the “sweet spot” for ultrasonic cleaning, the optimal compromise between the ability to penetrate below the surface of contaminants (and into small crevices and recesses on the item being cleaned) and the ability to deliver a powerful scrubbing action.

In fact, 40kHz can be used in 95% of ultrasonic cleaning applications and, as we’ll see, adding Simultaneous Multi-Frequency® makes the sweet spot even sweeter.

Minimized standing wave pattern

Ultrasonic waves will bounce off the underside of the surface of the liquid medium and off other surfaces in the cleaning tank. If a single frequency is used, the waves always travel approximately the  same course and land in approximately the same area. This results in alternate layers of good and poor cleaning throughout the depth of the tank. With Simultaneous Multi-Frequency®, the variation in wavelengths eliminates this problem, improving your cleaning performance even more and preventing the need to reposition or even re-clean parts.

Greater reliability with longer-lasting diaphragms

Transducer diaphragms erode over time from the ultrasonic energy being transmitted. This erosion steadily reduces the amount of energy going into the tank. This not only reduces your cleaning performance, if it’s not addressed, it eventually destroys the transducer diaphragm, rendering the transducer useless and taking your cleaner out of service.

The rate of diaphragm erosion can be as much as three times greater for single frequency ultrasonic cleaning versus 40 kHz Simultaneous Multi-Frequency®, meaning your transducer will be in service and effective for a much longer time.

In the next few blog posts, we’ll explore each of these three items further, as well as looking at other benefits.

3 Reasons Why “Made In The USA” Matters when Choosing an Ultrasonic Cleaner

We don’t have to tell you that more than ever before, the products we use — from sneakers to jumbo jets — are manufactured outside the United States, or assembled here from foreign parts. You may even assemble off-shored parts in your facility, or you might be reading this article on a phone built in China or South Korea. Does it really matter whether your ultrasonic cleaner is made in the USA?

In fact, where your ultrasonic cleaner is manufactured can affect everything from the basic quality to your customer service experience. Giving our customers the best product we can deliver is why we make 100% USA designed and manufactured products right here in Freeport, Illinois.

Here are three solid reasons nothing beats American made:

THE PARTS

Some of our competitors gather components from far flung regions of the world and assemble them here in the States; others use offshoring for the entire build. We choose to build here with 100% American-sourced materials because it gives us control over every aspect of the manufacturing process. This allows us to ensure this process — and the equipment it produces — follow a consistent standard of quality.

That’s not to say foreign suppliers can’t provide good quality. But each offshore component brings with it not just that subcontractor, but all the suppliers and service providers they themselves depend on. Each new link in the chain is a new degree of separation between you and the necessary resources to build your equipment, and the separation is increased by differences in time zone, standards, geography, etc.  If one of the links is weak, the manufacturer has to struggle through all that in order to fix the problem. That’s why even the best offshore components seldom match the quality of domestic ones.

Instead, our process is completely under our oversight. We ensure quality not with a promise from a distant subcontractor, but with our own eyes on the products as they are built.

THE PEOPLE

We have great employees, and we doubt we have to sing the praises of the American worker to you. Yet, we’re not speaking just about the skill of our people but about the connectedness of our people.

Think about how the ease of instant communication has made our world smaller. Now imagine how small the “world” your ultrasonic cleaner is made in will be when all the action takes place in a single facility. The same person who helped you choose or design your cleaner is in an office just a short walk from the team that will assemble it, and he or she works with them every day. No hitch can develop from differences in time zones, languages or location. The whole team is on the same page at all times.

THE SERVICE

Even the customer care you receive after the sale can be affected by offshoring. Imagine a component fails in your ultrasonic cleaner. If it was built using foreign components, the nearest one might be in a container on a ship somewhere. In our case, your part is on a shelf in Freeport and we are generally able to ship them overnight. The turnaround time for requesting and receiving a part from us might actually be shorter than the time it takes another manufacturer to receive an initial response from their subcontractor on a different continent.

Again, the “small world” of our single American facility means that there’s no need to pass information back and forth between different organizations. That means you get your need satisfied in short order — on your schedule, not Shanghai’s.

Our All-American manufacturing process allows us to deliver ultrasonic cleaners that are so dependable that we recently increased the length of our warranty by three years.  If you want to learn more about how some of our customers reduced costs and delivered a cleaner product with our highly reliable products, click here to learn about Ushers Machine and Tool or download Ultrasonics to the Rescue, a case study of the results seen by Componex.

6 Questions You Need to Ask About Warranty When Choosing an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Without doubt, reliability is the one feature you need to have on every piece of equipment in your facility. If your line is shut down and you’re paying through the nose for repairs, it doesn’t matter if your your new piece of equipment is the greatest invention ever. And nothing tells you a product is dependable and well-made like a strong warranty.

But how can you be sure you’re getting a great warranty and therefore a great product? Here are some questions to consider:

IS IT SIMPLE?

Beware multi-page monstrosities! You know to read the fine print, but all other things being equal, the more clauses a warranty has and the more complex the language, the more outs the manufacturer is putting in. No one needs three pages to say “If it breaks, we’ll fix it.”

IS IT TOO SIMPLE?

There’s nothing wrong with a warranty that boils down to something like “1 year on everything.” But some components are supposed to last longer than and/or are more important than others, so give some thought to whether the warranty should be multi-tiered. For example, we warranty our entire product for two years, but warranty all ultrasonic generator components for five years and our Vibra-bar® transducers for ten years.

WHEN DOES THE WARRANTY PERIOD BEGIN?

Watch out for warranties that guarantee the product from some point well before you can use it, such as from the date of manufacture. For example, say a company sells you an off-the-shelf unit that is warrantied from the date of manufacture. In that case, your coverage began before the off-the-shelf unit reached the shelf, and possibly months or years before you even ordered it! Look for warranties that begin when the product is shipped or delivered.

DOES IT COVER THIRD PARTY COMPONENTS?

Your warranty should definitely include a clause which mentions coverage for parts of the unit that were provided to the manufacturer. This clause will usually take the form of a guarantee to transfer the third parties’ warranties, but the important thing is that it’s in there. If it isn’t, you could find large portions of your machine—including vital components like transducers and generators—are not covered.

WHAT REMEDIES ARE AVAILABLE?

Every manufacturer sets parameters on what they’ll do to remedy a problem; it’s a perfectly logical practice to protect them from unreasonable demands and costs. But be on the lookout for remedy clauses that don’t necessarily require the manufacturer to repair or replace the part and get you back on track.

ARE THE EXCLUSIONS REASONABLE?

Virtually every warranty has some logical exclusions, but look this clause over carefully. If a manufacturer is saying they won’t pay in an instance that is either somewhat likely and/or completely in their purview—such as the failure of a transducer they manufactured—it indicates they’re not certain about their product’s dependability.

ANY OTHER QUESTION YOU WANT TO ASK!

We’ve all heard the old saw, “the only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask.” If you’re unclear on anything in a warranty, ask away. This will not only give you the information you need to make a good decision, it will show you what kind of customer care you can expect from the manufacturer. Are they forthcoming or cagey?

What is our warranty like, you ask? We were already describing it as “industry-leading” for years before we decided to lengthen it. As mentioned above, our world class 10-5-2 warranty backs our Vibra-bar® transducers for ten years, our ultrasonic generators for five years and all other components for two years.

You can be certain we’ll deliver a reliable product and stand behind it.  If you want to learn more about how some of our customers used these highly reliable machines to reduce costs and deliver a cleaner product, click here to learn about Ushers Machine and Tool or download a copy of our case study, Ultrasonics to the Rescue, showing the results seen by Componex.

How Ultrasonic Cleaning Reduces Re-Do’s in a Manufacturing Plant

It can be the most irritating news of your day, or if the pressure’s really on, your week. A batch of components being readied for an urgent customer order need to be redone. Money and time just went down the drain, and might cause a slowdown throughout your plant as personnel who should be moving on to the next task are engaged in a costly do-over.

What if a single technology could help you avoid all this? Well, here’s great news: Ultrasonic cleaning slashes rework, increases efficiency and can allow you to deliver a better product for less.

Let’s take a look at the two main ways ultrasonic cleaning reduces rework:

Ultrasonic cleaning delivers a perfectly clean component

A common problem that leads to rework is contamination left on a part, preventing the next step in the process—especially coating applications—from being performed. You may be removing old grime from refurbished parts or removing cutting oil from newly machined components, but whatever impurity is in your way, it has to be nothing but a bad memory if you want paint, chrome or any other coating to go on and stay on.

If an employee is cleaning the parts by hand, it’s inevitable that they will miss some contamination. There’s plenty of potential for them to become distracted, overlook some dirt or oil, be unable to reach a contaminated recess or commit any number of other errors. Even your best people will miss things; they’re human. If you involve machinery, things may not get much better. If you use a parts cleaner, contamination might remain in a spot that wasn’t reached by the machine. In addition, the machine’s performance will (again) only be as good as the performance of the humans operating it. An error on their part can mean running parts through a second time.

How does ultrasonic cleaning remove this concern? Ultrasonic waves create millions of microscopic bubbles on the surface of solid objects in the liquid medium. In a process called “ultrasonic cavitation,” these bubbles are constantly forming and collapsing, creating high-impact scrubbing action on the surface of the part. This high-energy scrubbing removes all contaminants, even in places a human or a spray jet would find impossible to clean, giving you with a part that is pristine.

Ultrasonic cleaning reduces the risk of damage from human error to a minimum

Handling the component carries risk with it, and so does a hand cleaning process. Workers can drop, scratch, ding or otherwise mar the part, requiring it to be refinished or perhaps even scrapped. But ultrasonic cleaning only requires the part to be handled when it is placed in a basket and lowered into the cleaning tank. After that, ultrasonic cavitation does all the work.

With ultrasonic, you won’t need to soak parts before cleaning, which means you’ll remove two handling steps—putting the parts in to soak and removing them to clean them—that create more opportunities for damage. And with Ultrasonic Power Corporation’s new custom automation options, you can eliminate even more handling from your process. If a worker places a basket of items to be cleaned in the correct zone, a smart sensor will recognize it and an automated system will move the basket through a pre-programmed cycle. This can include multiple rinse and cleaning baths as you require. Then, when the cycle is finished, the system will place the basket in a retrieval area, allowing it to be moved to the next station.

Every time a part needs to be reworked, you lose time and money. But with a simple change to ultrasonic cleaning, you can scale back those costs and make your facility more efficient.

How to Reduce Throughput Time with Ultrasonic Cleaning

Moving more product in a given time almost always means a better bottom line, but every manufacturing facility has bottlenecks that can stretch out throughput time, keeping your customers waiting and your cost per piece higher than it needs to be.

But what if making a single technology change could eliminate several bottlenecks at once, while delivering better results? Ultrasonic cleaning can reduce the amount of time your parts take to process and will ensure they are spotless. Read on to see how.

No more sitting for a soak

When facility managers are hoping to speed things up, queue time is often the “low hanging fruit” that can be reduced or eliminated with some relatively minor changes in procedure. But what if you’re in a situation where you need to soak parts prior to cleaning? The soak cycle may be reducing the amount of time your workers spend cleaning the part (saving you labor) or helping to preserve solvent or other media (saving you money on the cost of chemicals and disposal) but there’s no getting around the fact that your parts are sitting there doing nothing.

In contrast, ultrasonic cleaning uses cavitation to remove contaminants, so soaking is generally not required or even helpful. As ultrasonic waves pass through liquid, they create millions of microscopic bubbles on the surface of the item being cleaned. As these bubbles form and collapse, they create a high-impact scrubbing action, removing all contaminants from the surface of the item. There’s no need to “soften up” the grime before the cavitation begins scrubbing it.

This means your workers can begin the cleaning process as soon as the parts arrive at the cleaning station. That brings us to the next way you can reduce your throughput time: Reducing the amount of time spent on the cleaning process.

Quicker, more effective cleaning

With ultrasonic cavitation doing all the work, you won’t need your employees to manually clean the components, spray them, etc. The parts are simply loaded into a basket and submerged; after that, the bubbles do all the work. Cleaning will often take as little as five to seven minutes, and there will be no handling, scrubbing, spraying, detailed inspection and re-cleaning. There also won’t be a need to disassemble and reassemble parts, since the cavitation can reach anywhere liquid can go.

As a side benefit, your worker can spend the ultrasonic cleaning cycle attending to other work, which will let you get more for your labor dollars and perhaps even further reduce throughput time.

Now, let’s see how this form of cleaning ensures you’ll clean—and process—the item just once.

Fewer “do-overs” and reworked components

No technology can eliminate human error, but an ultrasonic cleaner can greatly reduce the incidence of two major sources of extra processing time.

First, eliminating the constant handling required in traditional cleaning will reduce the chance that a part will be scratched, dropped or otherwise damaged during cleaning and inspection. If you don’t use an abrasive process, you won’t scratch; if you don’t disassemble, you won’t crossthread a part (to use just one example) during reassembly. The parts will almost certainly go to the next station in the exact same condition in which they arrived, except for being immaculate, of course.

Second, since cavitation reaches every surface and removes every bit of contaminant, there won’t be a need for a component to come back and be re-cleaned. With unblemished parts, there won’t be any surprises if you need to apply coating or paint. You’ll not only save the processing time you would spend cleaning the parts a second time and applying a coating again, you’ll even save time spent moving the parts back and forth. Multiply that savings over days, weeks and months and it really adds up!