More often than we like, industry jargon gets in the way of understanding. Fortunately, the good people at Ultrasonic Power can relate and are here to clarify the jargon and better explain precision industrial ultrasonic cleaning technology and design. It’s always a good idea to get rid of jargon when reasonable, but when dealing with an advanced technology—and one that’s used across many industries—technical terms can become a second language.
Let’s have a look at some industry jargon that may need some explanation:
Cavitation— It’s what drives the process
Ultrasonic cleaning works because of the effect high frequency sound has in a liquid. As the sound waves move through the liquid medium and strike solid objects, they create bubbles filled with vapor. When these bubbles collapse, heated jets of water strike the surface of the solid object and dislodge contaminants.
Sparger— Assuring clean stays clean
Once those contaminants are cleaned off the target object, where do they go? If they hang around in the vicinity, they will simply end up back on the target object when it’s removed from the tank. For most contaminants, this can be solved by filtering the tank medium. But what if the contaminant being cleaned is oil or other lighter than water substances? Contaminants won’t arrive in the filter and will redeposit on the part when it’s raised out of the tank.
The answer is a sparger. This technology design pumps streams of liquid across the tank liquid surface, pushing light contaminants out of the way.
Weir— Parting the waters
But doesn’t the oily contaminant/residue just hit the “downstream” side of the tank opposite the Sparger and remain an obstacle to clean parts? This is where the handoff occurs, from the Sparger to the Weir. Contaminant are “pushed” by the Sparger across the cleaning liquid column and falls over the Weir into an awaiting tank collecting contaminants. The cleaning liquid is then put through some sort of filter and returned to the cleaning tank.
The word Weir is commonly used to describe a type of dam that changes the liquid volume flow characteristics and maintains a constant height (depth) of the liquid rather than stopping it up. In the case of ultrasonic cleaners, a Weir is a simple technology design for separating contaminants from the cleaning liquid and prevents recontamination of any parts being cleaned. (in other words, contaminated cleaning liquid gets cleaned too!)
Spargers and Weirs are essential cleaning technology designs in any situation where greases and oils are involved, and are available and appropriate for most ultrasonic cleaner models. Here’s how they look like in action:
Transducer— Making waves
A transducer is a mechanical and electrical technology for converting one form of energy into another. In the case of ultrasonic cleaning, transducers are like high frequency speakers that change electrical energy into acoustic energy.
PZT— Creating good vibrations
Most ultrasonic transducers use piezoelectric action. Piezoelectric substances change shape when they are subjected to an electric field. With the right application of current, they can be made to vibrate at high frequencies, so they form the heart of the ultrasonic transducer and create the high frequency vibrations that clean with cavitation.
So, what is PZT? Lead zirconate titanate is the most common piezoelectric substance used in ultrasonic transducers. Why is it called PZT instead of LZT? That’s because the symbol for Lead is Pb. Don’t roll your eyes, it was the chemists that designated lead as Pb.
PZT is a ceramic, so it is strong, chemically inert, and easily tailored to specific applications. For this technical reason and many more piezoelectric transducers have replaced other transducer designs across the precision industrial ultrasonic cleaning industry.
There you have it, explanations for industry jargon. So go ahead and put this with your important files, be a pack rat and save this mini-glossary. We hope it is useful. Ultrasonic Power experts are ready to work with you and answer more questions about what we’ve covered. Contact us to learn what kind of ultrasonic cleaning design will work best for your unique cleaning application. Get in touch with us today, and together we’ll happily answer other questions you have. Remember, “Our Technology, Your Solution”SM is just a telephone call away.