Spray washers are a common sight on facility floors, but have they been surpassed by ultrasonic cleaners? As customers raise the bar on the cleanliness level they require from suppliers, that’s a question you’ll need to consider.
The answer? An ultrasonic cleaner will let you deliver a better product – by delivering a cleaner product – than a spray washer. There are three reasons why: Cavitation, cavitation and cavitation.
Are we making a quip? No, our point is that the phenomenon of ultrasonic cavitation is a radical departure from – and improvement over – other cleaning methods. First, let’s look at what ultrasonic cavitation is and how it delivers superb results in an industrial environment:
What is ultrasonic cavitation?
As ultrasonic waves move through a liquid medium, they compress and release the molecules in the liquid. This results in millions of microscopic bubbles forming on the surface of the item being cleaned, and these bubbles are constantly forming and imploding. When they implode, the liquid rushing in to fill the space creates a powerful jet that slams into the surface of the part, dislodging contaminants. This creates a gentle and absolutely thorough scrubbing action that drives the ultrasonic cleaning process.
So why is an ultrasonic cleaner so much better than a spray washer?
Cavitation reaches everywhere
The bubbles created by this cavitation will reach anywhere that the liquid medium does. No matter how complex the geometry of a part or how deep any crevices are, the microscopic bubbles will create cleaning jets on every spot on every surface.
Since cavitation is created by acoustic energy and acoustic energy propagates through metals, shadowing is not an issue. In other words, parts positioned next to each other are not a problem like with spray washers. Every surface that is immersed will be cleaned.
All of this means that you’ll not only know you’re hitting every surface, your employees won’t have to disassemble most parts in order to get them clean. You’ll also know that as long as the part was in the ultrasonic cleaner’s tank for the necessary amount of time—usually around three to five minutes—it will be completely clean. There’s virtually no room for human error in loading or inspection.
Cavitation cleans everything
Eliminating solvents from your cleaning process can result in significant savings (LINK TO BLOG: 3 Cost Saving Benefits of Ultrasonic Cleaners vs. Spray Washers). The problem is that some contaminants can’t be easily sprayed or scrubbed off without a healthy dose of solvent.
An ultrasonic cleaner has the clear advantage here because the contaminant is blasted off the surface by the mechanical and heat action when the cavitation bubbles implode. Because this action is mainly mechanical, the chemical makeup of the substance being removed isn’t a factor. Only a mild detergent is added to the water in the cleaner.
Cavitation is versatile
Ultrasonic cleaners are equipped with transducers producing a specific range of frequencies geared to the material you need to clean. This can range from 25kHz systems for highly durable and tenaciously grimy items such as engine blocks, to 170kHz systems used for pharmaceutical products, medical implants and the most delicate electronics.
Most units use 40kHz, which produces bubbles about a micron wide and delivers the best balance of scrubbing power and penetration. Our 40kHz units use our own patented Vibra-bar® Simultaneous Multi-Frequency® system, which provides a 40kHz -90kHz frequency range to deliver even more effective cleaning.
The adaptable nature of ultrasonic cleaning is why this technology is used to clean everything from hard drives and glass vials to engine blocks and nuclear decontamination equipment. It’s a versatility spray washing simply can’t deliver.