All posts by admin

Choosing an Explosion Proof Ultrasonic Cleaner

Explosion Proof Ultrasonic Cleaner

Source: Pixabay

While traditional ultrasonic cleaning methods use water-based cleaners, there are many cases where the use of a flammable cleaning fluid is required. For example, isopropyl alcohol (IPA) and acetone are often desirable as they are effective degreasers and evaporate quickly after cleaning, without leaving a residue.

However, the use of flammable or combustible substances in an ultrasonic cleaner creates a hazardous environment. To ensure the safety of personnel and prevent damage to surrounding equipment, an alternative setup must be used. An explosion proof ultrasonic cleaner is specially designed for use with flammable materials.

In this article, we discuss more about why you might need an explosion proof ultrasonic tank and the factors you need to consider when deciding on the best cleaner and setup.

Ultrasonic Flammable Liquid Cleaning Applications

Most ultrasonic cleaning applications involve solvents that don’t present a risk during the cleaning process. However, some situations call for the use of flammable solvents. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a flammable liquid is one that has a flashpoint below 199.4°F (93°C). The flashpoint is the lowest temperature at which the vapors of a volatile material will ignite when exposed to an ignition source.

According to the National Electrical Code (NEC), a hazardous environment is created whenever flammable solvents are used, as fumes can be easily ignited by any ignition source. Possible ignition sources include any nearby electrical equipment, even an ultrasonic cleaner itself.

What’s more, ultrasonic cleaning causes a temperature increase in the cleaning fluid. When using a flammable solvent, the rise in temperature will cause evaporation and fumes will accumulate above the tank. Even seemingly harmless static electricity could act as an ignition source for these vapors.

A flammable solvent ultrasonic tank is specially designed to enable you to work safely with volatile cleaning fluids such as IPA, ethanol, methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), hexane, cyclohexane and acetone.

An example of an explosion proof ultrasonic cleaner

An example of an explosion proof ultrasonic cleaner

Choosing an Explosion Proof Ultrasonic Cleaner

Here are the key considerations when shopping for an explosion proof ultrasonic cleaner:

 Unit Size

Size is one of the main factors to bear in mind when purchasing a non flammable ultrasonic tank. You need to ensure you purchase one that’s large enough for your current and future needs.

If you’re cleaning small components such as watch parts or circuit board components, you may be able to opt for a compact, portable model.

Solvent Flashpoint

The table below shows the most common flammable solvents used in ultrasonic cleaning along with their flashpoints:

Solvent Flashpoint (°F)
Isopropyl Alcohol 53
Acetone -4
Toluene 40
Methylated Spirits (Denatured Alcohol) 57
Cyclohexane -4

 

Bear in mind that just because an ultrasonic cleaner is explosion proof does not automatically mean it can be used with all flammable solvents.

For example, some smaller units can only handle solvents with a minimum flashpoint of around 50°F. Looking at the table above, you can see that this would render you limited in terms of which solvents you can use.

That said, the cleaners we offer can handle all

Compliance

The most important consideration when selecting an ultrasonic cleaner is to ensure it meets all standards and regulations. Per the NEC classification method, explosion proof ultrasonic cleaners must be Class I, Division 1 compliant.

Bear in mind that in order for the cleaner to meet Class I, Division 1 (CID1) standards, the environment in which it’s operated needs to meet certain requirements too. These include not having any ignition sources within a certain distance from the unit.

The cleaners we help develop are CID1 compliant, and listed by ETL. An ETL approved ultrasonic tank is compliant with national standards and has undergone testing by a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL).

Considerations When Using an Explosion Proof Ultrasonic Cleaning Method

Although explosion proof cleaners are specially designed for use with flammable solvents, you still need to take steps to ensure safety and efficiency. Here are some of the main things to bear in mind:

Ventilation

When using any flammable solvent, it’s important to ensure you’re working within a clean and well-ventilated environment. If you lack ventilation, built up fumes could ignite outside of the cleaner. What’s more, if the area is dusty, this can further increase the risk of ignition.

Electrical safety

Electrical safety is important in any setting, but even more so when you’re dealing with flammable substances. We mentioned the electrical safety of the ultrasonic cleaner itself above, but it’s important to ensure all electrical equipment in the area is safe.

The National Fire Protection Code (NFPC) mandates that a CID1 envelope should extend five feet in every direction around the vapor source (flammable solvent). This means that any electrical device within that distance must be CID1-rated, enclosures should be inerted, and circuits have to be intrinsically safe. Devices that may generate a spark must be housed in a CID1-rated enclosure specifically designed for controlling ignition.

Degassing

Degassing isn’t specific to explosion proof cleaners but it’s an important step nonetheless. Ultrasonic cleaning works by a process called cavitation whereby bubbles form and collapse, dislodging contaminants from objects in the tank.

When you add the cleaning solution to your tank, air is naturally trapped inside it. This can interfere with the bubbles produced by the ultrasonic transducer and inhibit the cavitation process.

Many ultrasonic cleaners have a degassing mode, but it’s possible to degas manually by letting the cleaner run without a load.

Removed discussion around using a flask or beaker in a regular ultrasonic cleaner.

 

The Benefits of Using Ultrasonic Cleaning for Pharmaceutical Equipment

Source: Pixabay

Pharmaceutical applications involve equipment with complex parts which can be very difficult to clean. Components like hoses, filters, and valves can present a particularly tough challenge. Using traditional methods to clean pharmaceutical equipment is time-consuming and may provide incomplete cleaning. This isn’t good news when you’re trying to meet the strict regulations and standards within the industry. Thankfully, there is a better way: pharmaceutical ultrasonic cleaning.

An ultrasonic cleaner will have the job done in a fraction of the time you would spend on traditional cleaning methods. And it will ensure that every part of the equipment is completely free of residue, eliminating contamination concerns. What’s more, ultrasonic cleaning is gentle enough that you don’t have to worry about damage to your equipment.

Here, we go into detail about how a pharmaceutical ultrasonic cleaning tank works and the benefits of using this over regular cleaning methods.

How pharmaceutical ultrasonic cleaning works

An ultrasonic cleaner is a specialized piece of equipment that cleans using high-frequency sound waves. The equipment to be cleaned sits entirely submerged in a bath of cleaning liquid. An ultrasonic transducer is responsible for producing sound waves that disrupt the liquid.

This disruption results in the production of tiny bubbles filled with vapor. When these bubbles meet the surface of an object, they collapse, prompting the release of high-temperature jets of liquid. This process is known as cavitation.

The force from the hot liquid jets is strong enough to dislodge contaminants that are adhered to the surface of the submerged object. Particulates that have been removed are filtered away so they won’t recontaminate the equipment.

In a pharmaceutical lab environment, ultrasonic cleaning can be used for a whole range of equipment and parts, including filters, hoses, valves, tubes, pipes, molds, and punches.

The benefits of pharmaceutical ultrasonic cleaning

Labor-intensive equipment cleaning is often simply accepted as part of the workday. However, an increasing number of pharmaceutical product manufacturers are opting for ultrasonic cleaning instead. While it requires an upfront investment in equipment, it can help save time and money in the long term.

Here are the main benefits of opting for a pharmaceutical ultrasonic tank instead of sticking with regular cleaning methods:

1. Your parts will be thoroughly cleaned

Production of things like ointments and tablets can leave a lot of residue on various components of your equipment. It’s very difficult to remove all traces of product using traditional cleaning methods such as agitation and scrubbing. Even when using harsh chemicals it can be tough (or impossible) to remove all residue from hard-to-reach places like threads, crevices, and the inside of hoses.

These concerns are alleviated when you use an ultrasonic cleaner. Any surface area that’s in contact with the cleaning liquid will be reached by the cavitation bubbles. This means that all parts of the submerged object will be thoroughly cleaned. This is especially important when equipment is used for batches of different products and cross-contamination is a concern.

The frequency of some ultrasonic cleaners can be adjusted. At higher frequencies, you can clean at the sub-micron level which is desirable for many pharmaceutical equipment components such as filters and punches.

2. You can avoid downtime and reduce man-hours

Traditional cleaning methods can be extremely time-consuming. Not only do you have to clean every part by hand, but you also have to dismantle equipment and separate every component ready for cleaning.

Ultrasonic cleaners can clean far quicker, reducing equipment downtime and improving productivity. It can take just a few minutes of cleaning to achieve results that may not even be possible by traditional methods.

You can even leave the machine unattended while cleaning so that other tasks may be completed. This will free up lab personnel to focus on more important tasks. It may even mean that you don’t need to hire additional personnel for the sole purpose of equipment cleaning.

3. Some cleaners are specifically designed for pharmaceutical equipment

Are you worried about using a general ultrasonic cleaner for cleaning delicate parts? You may be able to find equipment that has been designed specifically to clean your components.

For example, we’ve created a custom filter ultrasonic tank. This will eliminate the need for the painstaking task of cleaning filters by hand and optimize the performance of your filters.

A custom ultrasonic filter cleaning system

4. There’s less exposure to harsh chemicals

To get as thorough a clean as possible when using traditional cleaning methods, you’ll often have to opt for harsh chemicals. Personnel must wear additional personal protective equipment or risk exposure to these materials, often for long periods while hand cleaning is in progress. What’s more, there’s a risk these toxic substances could remain on components and contaminate products in future runs.

An ultrasonic cleaner allows for a hands-off approach, minimizing exposure. It’s also usually not necessary to use harsh chemicals. Due to the force of the cavitation process, a gentler cleaning liquid can typically be used, and with better results at that.

Further, you can be sure that all parts will be reached during the rinse cycle so you don’t have to worry about traces of cleaning agents remaining on the equipment.

5. You can prolong the life of your equipment

Cleaning via traditional methods can cause buildup of residue over time, for example, on things like filters, to the point where parts are deemed unusable. Also, harsh chemicals and vigorous cleaning methods can damage components, forcing you to retire equipment prematurely.

As mentioned, with some ultrasonic cleaners, you can adjust the frequency. The higher the frequency, the more gentle the clean, and the lower the chance of damage. The thorough cleaning also means you don’t get the debris buildup you normally would.

You may even be able to use ultrasonic cleaning to salvage parts that you had thought were unusable. For example, filters can be very difficult to clean thoroughly via regular cleaning, requiring them to be frequently replaced. Filter ultrasonic cleaning can help prolong the life of your filter multiple times over.

Why Use Ultrasonics to Clean Firearms?

Source: Pixabay

Firearms are complex pieces of machinery, which means that cleaning them can be tricky. The traditional method of cleaning a firearm involves disassembling the gun and cleaning each part by hand. While this is inexpensive, it can be laborious and may not give you the thorough cleaning you desire. Ultrasonic gun cleaning on the other hand involves a quick and painless process and provides a deep clean.

When you use an ultrasonic gun cleaner, you can be sure that all parts are pristine and well-lubricated, while remaining undamaged. An ultrasonic cleaner involves an upfront investment, but it will help save you money down the road in terms of repairs and replacement.

In this article, we take a closer look at how an ultrasonic weapons cleaner works and the advantages of using a sonic gun cleaner.

How Ultrasonic Gun Cleaning Works

Before we delve into why an ultrasonic gun cleaner is best for cleaning your firearms, it’s useful to know how the process works.

Ultrasonic cleaners work by producing high-frequency sound waves that disrupt the cleaning liquid. As a result, tiny vapor-filled bubbles form and collapse against the surface of objects submerged in the solution. When the bubbles collapse, they release hot jets of water that have enough force to remove contaminants from the object’s surface. This process will clean any part that is submerged in the cleaning solution.

An ultrasonic cleaner can help with lubrication too. Once the parts are clean, the cleaning solution can be replaced with a lubricant and the ultrasonic cleaner can be used once again to ensure all parts are lubricated. The lubricating fluid also displaces water to further prevent rust.

Advantages of Ultrasonic Weapons Cleaning

Traditional gun cleaning can represent somewhat of a ritual for some gun owners, but that’s really where the benefits of traditional cleaning end. There are a whole host of reasons why ultrasonic gun cleaning is preferred by so many gun collectors, law enforcement agencies, shooting range operators, and other gun owners.

Some of the main benefits of ultrasonic weapons cleaners are:

  1. They clean and lubricate thoroughly
  2. Cleaning time is reduced
  3. Parts dry quickly
  4. Specially formulated solutions are available

Let’s looks at these in more detail:

1. They clean and lubricate thoroughly

When using traditional methods, many gun owners will perform a surface clean and follow it up by spraying some lubricant inside. While this will keep the outside of the gun looking good, the critical internal components won’t be cleaned. Even if you completely disassemble the gun, there will still be crevices that can’t be reached by hand, even with special cleaning tools.

Firearms have intricate internal and external components that are difficult to clean by hand. Image source: Wikimedia

Carbon, dirt, lead, lubricant, and other substances can build up inside the weapon. This will lower its performance and increase the likelihood that you’ll need to repair or replace your firearm sooner rather than later.

When you use an ultrasonic cleaner, the cavitation bubbles will reach all surfaces of the submerged object. This ensures you get a thorough cleaning of all parts of your firearm.

As well as thorough cleaning, lubrication is essential to the maintenance of a firearm. Without proper lubrication, rust will set in and you’ll have to replace your firearm sooner. As with cleaning, lubrication with an ultrasonic cleaner is quicker and more effective.

2. Cleaning time is greatly reduced

To get the best clean using traditional methods, you would need to completely dismantle the firearm and clean and lubricate the components one by one. While this can be enjoyable for some firearm owners, it can be a very time-intensive task.

Ultrasonic cleaning can do a more thorough job in far less time. You only need to submerge the weapon in the ultrasonic cleaning solution for a few minutes and lubrication can take just a minute. Plus you can walk away and do something else while your gun is being cleaned.

Note that you don’t need to completely disassemble the entire weapon for cleaning in a sonic gun cleaner. Basic field stripping is all you need, which saves even more time.

3. Parts dry quickly

Some ultrasonic cleaners such as the GunSonicTM come with a dryer. This helps reduce drying time by a very significant 80 percent. Instead of waiting for your parts to air dry, the hot air blower can dry them in just a couple of minutes.

A GunSonic™ LG 3606 ultrasonic cleaner

With the shorter preparation, cleaning, and lubrication times, along with speedy drying, cleaning your gun no longer has to be a planned activity. A task that would normally take hours becomes a quick job.

4. Specially formulated solutions are available

Want to avoid damaging your firearm with incompatible commercial cleaning solutions? When you purchase an ultrasonic gun cleaner, it will often come with a supply of solutions tailored to your needs. You have the peace of mind that when you use the cleaning detergent and lubricant that comes with your sonic gun cleaner, they are specially formulated for this purpose.

Concerns about ultrasonic gun cleaning

There are a couple of common concerns when it comes to using an ultrasonic method for cleaning firearms, which we’ll address here:

Is ultrasonic cleaning too harsh for my gun?

Are you worried that the process of ultrasonic cleaning might damage your firearm? In fact, ultrasonic cleaning can be adjusted such that it is less likely to cause damage than traditional cleaning, for example, by using a cloth that is too abrasive.

In some ultrasonic cleaners, the vigor of ultrasonic cleaning can be finetuned by adjusting the frequency. Lower frequencies result in larger bubbles and more force when the bubbles collapse. While this is ideal for removing contaminants that are adhered particularly well to the surface of an object, it increases the risk of causing damage. Using a higher frequency will give you gentler cleaning. Single-frequency cleaners designed for use with firearms will have a high enough frequency to ensure a gentle enough clean for most firearm components.

You can also tweak the temperature, use a different detergent, and adjust the time the object spends in the machine. With the right settings, ultrasonic cleaning is even gentle enough to use on gold, anodized aluminum, and titanium parts. That said, depending on the cleaner you’re using, some parts such as lasers and scopes need to be removed prior to ultrasonic cleaning.

Will my weapon fit in an ultrasonic cleaner?

A common misconception is that you can’t clean a rifle with an ultrasonic weapons cleaner because it won’t fit, even when stripped down. However, there are models available specifically for rifles. For example, the GunSonicTM mentioned above comes in two different sizes, both of which are designed for rifles and handguns.

Do you have more questions about using ultrasonics to clean firearms? Ultrasonic Power experts are ready to help. Contact us today to find out about the best solution for your ultrasonic cleaning needs.

Bringing the Heat in Ultrasonic Cleaning

Bringing the Heat in Ultrasonic Cleaningheat in ultrasoinc cleaning

If you’ve used ultrasonic cleaning before, you’ve probably noticed that it’s hot stuff. We don’t mean results-wise (though ultrasonic cleaning is the best industrial cleaning technology available), we mean in terms of actual temperature. Most ultrasonic cleaners come with a heating system onboard and tank temperatures of 180°F are seen in some applications.

So what is the role of heat in ultrasonic cleaning, exactly? And how can you use it to your best advantage? Let’s take a look.

How does it work?

In most ultrasonic systems, one or more heating plates are mounted to the side of the cleaning tank. These plates transfer the output of simple electrically powered heating elements through the steel wall of the tank into the cleaning medium.

What is the usual temperature range?

Most ultrasonic cleaning units operate between 130° and 180°F, though some processes operate at as little as 90°F.

What’s the best temperature for cleaning?

This will depend on three factors: Your cleaning solution, the item being cleaned and the contaminants being removed.

  • Cleaning solution—Some products carry a manufacturer’s recommendation for operating temperature, so be sure to account for this.
  • Item being cleaned—Most ultrasonic cleaning targets can easily handle temperatures throughout the usual cleaning range, but others (such as circuit boards) can warp or suffer other damage in high temperatures.
  • Contaminants—Some contaminants need to subjected to high temperatures to be removed in an efficient manner. More importantly, some contaminants become more stubborn when heated beyond a certain point. For example, proteins in blood will harden significantly above about 100°F. In cases like this, there should be little or no heating applied to the solution.

What factors need to be taken into account?

Obviously, the heat delivered into solution by the heating unit on the cleaner is predictable and easily controlled. But we also need to consider the heat created by the cleaning process itself.

The transducers also produce a small amount of heat. A 500 Watt group of transducers will produce around 90 Watts of heat at full intensity. So let’s say a 6 gallon tank configured with 500 Watts of ultrasonics has the heating system set to 140°F and is maintaining that temperature. If the ultrasonics is left on for 4 straight hours beyond that time, the tank’s temperature could increase to over 160°F.

For this reason, it’s important to monitor the cleaning process and ensure that the temperature in the medium doesn’t stray outside the envelope dictated by your cleaning medium, pieces and contaminants.

How does heat affect the process?

Heat has three main roles in the cleaning process.

  1. Increasing the effectiveness of soaking—In general, warmer liquids are more effective at removing a wide variety of contaminants.
  2. Gas removal—Dissolved air and other gasses inhibit cavitation; a warmer solution helps these gasses escape, increasing cleaning effectiveness.
  3. Reduced viscosity—Warmer liquids are less viscous, and lower viscosity means more effective cavitation.

Can we save energy or time when heating?

With the new Sonic Touch® II control system, it’s a simple matter to set up a weekly schedule that automatically heats solutions prior to the cleaning session. This saves time and labor. Plus, the advanced data collection capabilities of the Sonic Touch® II allow operators to analyze the performance of all cleaner subsystems. This makes it possible to determine how to achieve the best heat profile for optimal cleaning.

Contact our knowledgeable staff today and let us guide you through your ultrasonic cleaning questions.

Customize Your Ultrasonic Cleaning Process

 

Whoever said “Change is the only true constant,” was probably talking about business. And the growing pace of change means any equipment investment you make must deliver the ability to adapt to changing customer demands.

In a previous blog, we discussed how the Sonic Touch® II console delivers better control, performance, and data collection, as well as ease of use. In addition, a major benefit of this new console is that operators have the ability to adapt it to changes in or additions to their cleaning operation.

Control anywhere…

Even without any customization, the updated control capability of the Sonic Touch® II allows users to adapt to changes in workflows and schedules.

“You can access the system from anywhere in your facility,” Manufacturing Engineer Felipe Benalcazar says, so long as the facility has a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This allows employees to either use their phone to set timers according to an optimal schedule, or control the cleaning unit directly.

The panel also allows users to set seven day timer schemes for the system, including the sonics, heater, pumps, and oil skimmer. A cleaning unit can be up and ready at exactly the right time, instead of requiring employees to spend time warming up the system.

Choose how you control…

Because the Sonic Touch® II console has a screen-based interface, operators can decide what controls are included and how their interface is arranged. This makes it simple to create an arrangement that is best for the user and the cleaning procedures being used each day.

Easy to reconfigure, with no need for long periods of downtime…

Previous generations of control technology made adding or changing controls a difficult proposition. In the past adding additional controls to an existing machine would have required making physical alterations to the sheet metal. Then, the switch would have to be wired to the new equipment, and other parts of the ultrasonic cleaner might have to be disassembled before the connection was made. In any case, the cleaning unit would be offline for some time. This might have a ripple effect, creating other costs or losses as other processes in a facility were put on hold waiting for the cleaning unit to be back online; it would definitely reduce the ROI gained from adding new equipment to a cleaner.

With the Sonic Touch® II, components can be added with a simple standard connection, and the tablet-style panel allows new controls to be added to a graphic user interface instead of being mounted in a physical panel. This drastically reduces the cost of making such a change, and the downtime required to make it.

Coding changes instead of physical changes…

A similar advantage of the Sonic Touch® II is the ability to change the interface with new code, uploaded to the unit via a USB. This makes specialized cleaning easier and less expensive, but it also reduces the cost and risk of refining your cleaning process.

With previous generations, adding a new piece of equipment or control carried the risk that if it delivered suboptimal results, changing it would require another investment and more downtime as the changes were accomplished. With the Sonic Touch® II, alterations to the code make it a simple matter to adapt the control panel to new equipment and change the interface to match.

As we mentioned in a previous blog, when a UPCORP customer needed a “rehoming” sequence and additional sensors to their automated system, Electrical Engineer Will Pedroza was able to help them develop code that integrated the new technology without major inconveniences, costs or even a site visit. “I never had to step in front of the machine,” he says. “It was just email correspondence followed by sending them a USB stick, and their system was updated with new functionality.”

Conclusion

By integrating advanced digital technology, the Sonic Touch® II provides ultrasonic cleaning operators remote access, improved ROI and simple customization.
Contact Ultrasonic Power Corporation today and let our Sonic Touch® II technology provide your facility with transformative cleaning capabilities.

 

 

 

Mark Your Calendar for the Aerospace Industry’s MRO Americas Show 2019

The aerospace industry is buzzing about the MRO Americas 2019 show slated for April 9-11. Will you be there? If so, we look forward to connecting with you! Ultrasonic Power is delighted to have an exhibit there and the opportunity to showcase our top-quality ultrasonic cleaning equipment in person to the MRO community.

The MRO show promises to be a highlight of Aviation week. We will be in Booth 3337, where we will demonstrate our new advanced 39 Gallon Cleaning System with Sonic Touch® II featuring our patented cavitation meter and wireless control, part of our Console Series of ultrasonic cleaning systems. The reliability, precision and impressive power of this system makes it a great choice for parts cleaning (titanium, aluminum and steel parts).

At the MRO exhibition, we will also exhibit our BT 60H Bench Top Cleaning System, which has a digital temperature control. It is an industrial-grade system made to clean a range of parts easily within its large 11” deep body.

In addition, our knowledgeable team will exhibit the Ultrasonic Power immersible transducer generator package. If you already have a tank and want to convert it to an ultrasonic cleaning tank, these immersible transducers provide an effective solution.

Ultrasonic Power proudly has 40 years of experience in the manufacturing of ultrasonic cleaning equipment. We regularly work with NASA, Space X, Boeing, and Virgin Galactic. We also design and manufacture custom large system tanks; Space X has a few of these huge systems. The tanks are used to clean their engine parts, landing gear, and other vital components.

Mark your calendar for the MRO show in April at The Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, GA! If you are unable to attend, phone us instead at 1-800-575-0168 to discuss how our ultrasonic technology can be the solution for your business needs.

The Sonic Touch® II improves ROI with Ultrasonic Cleaning Systems

Ultrasonic cleaning technology already has a clear edge in ROI over other methods. The right controls can increase ROI even further. That’s why Ultrasonic Power Corporation has introduced the Sonic Touch® II console.

“Previously, UPC’s precision industrial ultrasonic cleaning systems had basic controls and digital components,” Manufacturing Engineer Felipe Benalcazar says. “Now you have, essentially, a computer. With the Sonic Touch® II, the most important benefits are increased function control, performance monitoring and data collection. Putting the three benefits together allows you to create more efficient processes in your cleaning facility, and to know the status of your system at all times.”

Electrical Engineer Will Pedroza also points to ease of use. “You’re able to display a lot more information more concisely, in a way that people are used to interacting with information,” he says. “It’s especially useful in work environments where people are wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves, because the Sonic Touch® II has a resistive screen, and does not require a person to remove their gloves to operate.”

Control from anywhere, and ahead of time

The Sonic Touch® II can be operated remotely from a telephone or tablet which improves the ROI by allowing staff to be more flexible with their time.

“You can access the system from anywhere in your facility,” says Benalcazar, “as long as the facility has a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This allows employees to either use their phone to set timers according to an optimal schedule, or control the cleaning system directly.”

The Sonic Touch® II panel also allows users to set seven day timer schemes for the system, including the ultrasonics, heater, pumps, and oil skimmer. A cleaning unit can be up and ready at exactly the right work time, instead of requiring employees to spend time warming up the system; it’s a real time saver and adds to productivity.

Optimizing cleaning with better monitoring

“We’re very proud of our patented Liquid Condition Sensor, or LCS technology,” Benalcazar says. “Ultrasonics is half of the equation. You also have the fluid media.” LCS technology allows operators to monitor the condition of their cleaning liquid medium and how effective their settings are when cleaning various items.

“LCS can monitor what your cleaning status is and display how effectively you’re cleaning. For example, an aluminum part versus a stainless steel part,” Benalcazar says. “Or, say you’re cleaning pump impellers versus drive shafts, and you see better or worse cleaning results. The LCS provides data that may explain why the results are not the same.”

Since the Sonic Touch® II allows control of sweep, intensity, temperature, etc., users can adjust settings to deliver the best results for unique parts and contaminants. “If you’re seeing different results under the same settings,” he says, “the LCS data lets you set it right, and choose the best configurations for certain parts. Your ROI will grow because you’re spending less time cleaning as you have more efficient cleaning results. You spend less on detergents because you’re making your detergents last longer, and this is a real pay back because you avoid premature change out of detergent, changing only when necessary.”

Digital technology makes specialized cleaning easier and cheaper

Adapting the Sonic Touch® II to special situations is much easier than with earlier generations.

For example, a customer had purchased an automated system to move parts through the cleaning sequence. But they soon found they needed to add capabilities. In addition to the actuators it already controlled, they needed the ultrasonic system to be able to “re-home” the system to keep it in alignment, and they needed additional automated controls to ensure parts remained properly processed.

Instead of modifying physical hardware at the client site, Pedroza simply wrote new code. “I never had to step in front of the machine,” he says. “It was just email correspondence followed by sending them a USB stick, and their system was updated with new functionality.”

Data collection allows you to find efficiencies and potential problems

With the Sonic Touch® II, the run times and performance of all subsystems is recorded. It also logs alarms, and the resulting data can be downloaded to a flash drive. It can also be set to provide email or text alerts.

This allows analysis of data to find inefficiencies. For example, if cleaning effectiveness, run time or the number of alarms varies between certain shifts or certain days this highlights an opportunity to improve your cleaning process, or possibly address user understanding of the ultrasonic cleaning process.

This data gathering function is even more helpful in identifying components that need to be replaced. In the past, if an ultrasonic generator was delivering reduced performance and needed to be replaced, it might remain undetected for weeks or months. It also may not be possible to determine when the problem occurred. “With the Sonic Touch® II,” Pedroza says, “the troubleshooting is done for you, including the precise time that the event occurred. You can immediately identify what needs attention and we can help you right away.”

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 precision industrial ultrasonic cleaning system 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.

A Mini-Glossary of Jargon Associated With Precision Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaning Systems

Ultrasonic Cleaning Jargon

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:

[Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2Te7Ymon30]

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.

Conclusion

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.

How to Validate Your Ultrasonic Cleaning Process While You’re Still Cleaning

There’s no point in cleaning something if you can’t be sure how clean it is when you’re done. That’s why every facility needs a cleaning validation program.

As you’ve followed our blog, you’ve seen blog posts on how to handle meeting a specific cleanliness standard. Almost every method we presented is employed after the cleaning process is finished, or at least, after the part is removed from the ultrasonic cleaner. That makes sense, of course; why try to measure cleanliness when the cleaning isn’t finished?

There are actually some good reasons to do so, and a method specifically designed to evaluate cleaning effectiveness during the process. It’s called In Situ Particle Monitoring (ISPM), and it might help you make your cleaning process better.

How It Works

To use ISPM, you’ll need to sample the liquid medium in your ultrasonic cleaner. This should be done by taking a sample from the filtration loop, upstream of the filter. Sampling should take place while components are being cleaned. You’ll usually want to take a single sample, but as we’ll see there can be benefits to sampling multiple times in the same cycle.

Once you have the sample of the cleaning medium, the size and amount of contaminant particles in the medium should be verified. If the usual particle size is easily visible to the naked eye, this can be done with simple visual inspection after passing the liquid through a filtration medium. It’s best to use a lightly-colored or white filtration medium for contrast, and to ensure that the contaminants are spread over a certain measured area (for the sake of consistency) each time you test.

Smaller particle sizes can be counted with low or high-power microscopy, or other validation methods.

What Can We Find Out?

ISPM is simple, and can help an operator evaluate cleaners and processes by allowing an apples to apples comparison.

IPSM can be used to perform A/B testing on the effectiveness of certain detergents or formulations. For example, one can evaluate how quickly and effectively a specific formulation is in relation to another that is cleaning the same objects. This is especially effective if the target objects are sample plates with identical contamination.

IPSM can also be used to evaluate cleaning processes. Samples can be compared in order to determine how well and how quickly ultrasonic cleaning is removing contaminants if a change in frequency, procedure or tank arrangement is being considered.

By evaluating several samples taken during the cycle, you can graph a profile of when the most cleaning is taking place and how effective it is. It may seem that the amount of particles in the medium would just continue to climb, but remember that the filtration system is removing some portion of the particles as the process continues. You’ll usually see a spike at the beginning of the cleaning process, with other particles coming off steadily over time. This can be used to optimize your cleaning time.

Lastly, ISPM can help you monitor the condition of cleaning baths and your filtration systems. Regular checks are simple, and sudden increases in particle count will let you know changes need to be made.

Conclusion

ISPM isn’t as precise as some post-cleaning validation methods and lacks the gee-whiz factor of methods like Surface Ultraviolet Fluorescence, but it provides ultrasonic operators with information they can’t obtain after the cleaning cycle is finished. That makes it a tool to consider as you seek to make the single best industrial cleaning method, ultrasonic cleaning, work even more efficiently for your particular operation.

Why High Frequencies May Not Solve Ultrasonic Cleaning Problems

We’re often asked about cleaning at higher frequencies, and often the assumption behind the question is a natural one: Higher is better. If high frequency sound waves are required in an ultrasonic cleaning process, shouldn’t moving to a higher range produce even better results? Not necessarily. High frequencies are not a silver bullet with ultrasonic cleaning. So let’s look at some reasons why they should or shouldn’t be used.

Cavitation

Ultrasonic cleaning uses a phenomenon called cavitation. Cavitation occurs when high frequency sound waves are introduced into a body of liquid causing millions of tiny bubbles to form. As these bubbles expand and contract they reach a threshold and collapse. This collapse creates high temperature, at a microscopic point with accompanying high velocity jet stream,   (upwards of 5000°C, 600 mph jet stream) to blast contaminants off the surface of the item being cleaned. No matter what frequency you’re using, the acoustic energy must be high enough to reach the threshold to create cavitation.

Therefore, especially for industrial applications, it’s crucial to ensure the ultrasonic generators and transducers are of top quality and deliver efficient acoustic energy for expected precision cleaning results. No matter how powerful the system or what frequency used, if a low percentage of the acoustic energy makes it to the liquid due to inefficient generators or transducers, the performance will be poor. Make sure you buy from a reputable company, one that focuses on designing, developing and manufacturing, and stands by its products with an excellent warranty on its generators and transducers.

You may need a lower frequency

As frequency increases, the cavitation bubble size decreases and becomes less aggressive. The result may be an inability to remove some soils. With 25kHz, the cavitation bubbles are much larger and very aggressive. This is better for more massive parts like engine blocks and dies with tenacious contaminants. But beware that it can damage the surface finish of the part if care is not taken. 25kHz should not be used for parts with a polished finish.

When are high frequencies needed?

Higher frequencies (68kHz to 170kHz) should be used on items that need especially gentle, sub-micron level cleaning. This includes delicate electronics and precision optics. These higher frequencies produce sub-micron sized cavitation bubbles that can navigate the tiniest cracks and crevasses. Higher frequencies are often used to clean pharmaceutical equipment, medical implants, titanium components, delicate electronics and precision optics.

The best all-around frequency

For most applications, 40kHz is the best choice because it has the best balance between power and cavitation bubble size. This is why it is used in over 90% of all industrial ultrasonic cleaning systems. 40kHz Cavitation bubbles are about one micron in size, small enough to get into tiny cracks and blind holes. It’s also powerful enough to remove stubborn contaminants yet gentle enough for all but the most fragile materials.

SIMULTANEOUS MULTI-FREQUENCY® delivers superior performance

Single stacked transducers produce a single frequency which produces a specifically sized cavitation bubble (one micron for 40kHz). Higher end cleaning applications, however, may require sub-micron level cleaning. Ultrasonic Power Corporation’s patented VIBRA-BAR® transducer technology produces SIMULTANEOUS MULTI-FREQUENCY®. With this design, two PZT (piezoelectric transducer) stacks are mounted in a specific pattern. The natural resonance is combined with the propagating energy from the two PZT stacks causing a complex resonance. The result is the base frequency (40kHz) and a range of frequencies from 40kHz to 90kHz. These higher frequencies are able to remove smaller particles than with just a single 40kHz frequency.

Ultrasonic Power Corporation’s SIMULTANEOUS MULTI-FREQUENCY® technology provides multiple frequencies from a single generator and transducer configuration. This is like having multiple frequency generators and transducers in a single package.

Challenges and solutions

No ultrasonic cleaner is worth investing in if it doesn’t deliver results. No matter what your unique cleaning situation, we’re ready to provide the ultrasonic cleaning results that fit your needs, so let’s begin finding a great solution to your cleaning challenges. We like to say “Our Technology, Your Solution”TM Talk with us soon.