Category Archives: Ultrasonic cleaning

How Ultrasonic Cleaning Eliminates Harmful Solvents in Aerospace Cleaning

Cleaning with solvents is something nearly every maintenance operation does, from using a spray-on cleaner for electronic components to soaking metal parts in degreasing compound. But as environmental concerns become a greater part of the business equation and the need to cut costs mounts, is there a better method?

There is. Ultrasonic cleaning not only delivers better quality results, it can make your shop greener, safer and less costly to run by eliminating harmful solvents. Let’s first examine the problems solvents cause, then look at how ultrasonic cleaning solves those issues.

Solvents usually require additional cleaning work

Only the most caustic solvents will remove all the grime on components. Additional work by employees or a machine, such as hand scrubbing or spray washing, will cost time and labor.

Many solvents present a danger to employees

At a minimum, most industrial solvents will present a danger to a worker’s skin and eyes, and there may be issues with fumes.

Solvents are often costly to purchase

The cost for the actual solvent may not rank among your greatest expenses, but it can be significant over time. This will be especially true if you use solvents designed to meet green targets.

Solvents may have a high disposal cost

Solvents are usually classified as hazardous waste unless they have a flashpoint above 140 degrees, and as such are expensive to dispose of. Those formulas which are less hazardous also tend to be less effective, which will drive up the costs from additional cleaning. Plus, your state may classify your solvent as “special waste” or some other category and require special handling anyway.

Efforts to preserve your solvent may backfire

The higher the base cost of the solvent and the disposal expense are, the greater the incentive to preserve each batch as long as possible. The problem? Each action to help preserve batches—whether it’s more hand cleaning, filtration, longer soaking, etc.—increases costs elsewhere. In the long run, this may end up costing more than you save. Additionally, if the effort to preserve it goes on too long, the medium may become ineffective, leaving you with a batch of components that needs to be re-cleaned.

So, how does ultrasonic cleaning eliminate these concerns?

Cavitation means you’ll need no additional cleaning work

Ultrasonic cleaning occurs when the sound waves cause microscopic bubbles to form on the surface of the item being cleaned. The wave action also causes the bubbles to collapse. As they do, the liquid rushing into the space blasts contaminants off the surface.

Because the bubbles are microscopic and reach everywhere liquid can reach, additional scrubbing or spraying will not be necessary. Every contaminant on every surface will be removed by ultrasonic cavitation, usually in about five to seven minutes.

Simple detergents are safe and have a much lower cost

Ultrasonic cleaning requires the use of a detergent to facilitate moving contaminants away from the surface being cleaned, but these detergents are quite mild and cost a fraction of what you will pay for organic or petroleum-based solvents. That means no danger to employees, no safety equipment and no safety compliance costs. In addition, since cavitation (not the detergent itself) is doing the heavy lifting, you’ll use much less detergent compared to solvent.

There are no major disposal costs with the typical ultrasonic cleaning bath

A water mix with a mild detergent won’t qualify as a hazardous waste or have any properties making it dangerous to the environment. That means you’ll save the cost of hazardous waste disposal fees.

Frequent changes have a lower cost, so they become a best practice

When both the cleaning medium and disposal of it come with a minimal cost, there’s no need to take actions intended to stretch out its effective life. This can save you labor costs, filtration maintenance and rework, just to name a few possible costs.

The ability of ultrasonic cleaning to remove grime of any type from even inaccessible surfaces makes it the go-to cleaning technology for any technical operation, and eliminating solvents from the equation will save you costs and headaches in the short and long runs. If you’d like to learn more about eliminating harsh chemicals with an ultrasonic cleaning setup, get in touch with us today.

Mark Your Calendar for the Aerospace Industry’s MRO Americas Show 2018

The aerospace industry is buzzing about the MRO Americas 2018 show slated for April 10-12. 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 equipment in person to the MRO community.

The MRO show promises to be a highlight of Aviation week. We will be in Booth 2385, 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 Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL! 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.

How Ultrasonic Cleaning Can Help Speed Up Aircraft Maintenance

Aerospace Ultrasonic CleaningIn aviation, there’s no substitute for a fast turnaround. Aircraft don’t make money sitting on the ground, so anything that gets them back in the air quickly has a direct impact on the bottom line. And since every level of aviation maintenance involves cleaning tasks, faster cleaning means faster maintenance.

Ultrasonic cleaning can save significant amounts of time in any technical setting, and aviation is no exception.

Just faster cleaning
Ultrasonic cleaning has a much shorter run time than other methods, especially those which depend on hand cleaning or soaking.

Soaking can reduce the time your workers spend on hand cleaning as well as help preserve solvents or other media used later in the process. But in most cases, soaking is not necessary or even helpful when using ultrasonics. The ultrasonic cleaner uses sound waves to form and collapse millions of microscopic bubbles, which scrub contaminants from the surface. There’s no need to soften up dirt before the cleaning begins.

Since those bubbles reach everywhere liquid can reach and remove contaminants from the surface completely, disassembling parts prior to cleaning process is seldom necessary, and much less common than with hand or spray cleaning.

With no soaking and no disassembly, you save time before the cleaning begins, but the cleaning process itself is usually much shorter. A typical cycle cleans multiple parts in five to seven minutes, less time than it would take to thoroughly hand clean a single part in most cases.

Reduced rework or replacement
Because ultrasonic cleaning reaches all of every submerged surface, there won’t be cases where a worker misses a spot or a spray washer fails to achieve 100% coverage. That means parts won’t need to be recleaned, and contaminants won’t interfere with later steps requiring inspection or recoating.

In the case of moving from hand scrubbing to ultrasonic cleaning, the amount of handling the part undergoes is dramatically reduced. As a result, the chances a component will be damaged by simple human error are decreased proportionally. Reducing this risk will reduce the total time spent on maintenance.

The little things
Putting on a face shield is probably not the most time-consuming task your team takes on. But the gentle nature of the chemicals in ultrasonic cleaning baths can help you gain time back in a number of ways.

While hand cleaning and spray washing often rely on harsh chemicals to move grime off surfaces, ultrasonic cleaners need only water and a mild detergent. That eliminates the need for protective gear, safety training, compliance with associated regulations and the time spent on specialized disposal.

Even small time savings add up over time, and your employees will have greater comfort and safety.

Automation and advanced control
Our cleaners employ the Sonic Touch® II control system, which will increase efficiency in a number of ways. Each features a countdown timer system, not a new technology for sure, but a definite time and money saver as it will shut the cleaner down and alert staff when the cleaning process is complete. It also has a seven day schedule feature for the unit’s heating system, pump and filtration system and oil skimmer. This means that you can schedule activation of these subsystems so that the unit will be ready “just-in-time.”

There are also custom automation options which allow you to change your cleaning setup so that workers are engaged in other tasks instead of moving parts or monitoring a cleaning process.

Our custom automation options allow workers to simply place baskets in a zone monitored by sensors, with an automated carry system moving it through the remainder of the process. This offers significant time savings in setups where a part may enter multiple baths and rinses. Instead of a worker moving the parts and monitoring the amount of time they spend in each bath, the system will do the work. This is a further opportunity to remove human error from the process, since it’s impossible for the system to forget to come to work with the parts or be distracted and leave them in longer than is necessary.

Shorter run times and prep times. No do-overs on cleaning, and no waiting to replace a damaged part. Easier and safer use with milder chemicals, saving time on multiple tasks. Automated processes that save time for your workforce and free them for other tasks. All these benefits can be delivered by ultrasonic cleaning. With this technology, you can keep ‘em flying, and do it faster.

What To Do When Your Customer (Or Boss) Mandates Ultrasonic Cleaning

Change is the only constant, and a fresh batch of change arrived on your desk today. Someone higher up in the org chart (or downstream in the supply chain) has made the decision to require ultrasonic cleaning for your aerospace operation.

So, now what? Now that the mandate is there, the question is how to make the transition in the most effective way. Fortunately, we have some tips on how to make the change to ultrasonic cleaning a smooth and profitable one. In fact, you may find that this decision gives you a number of advantages.

  1.  Establish a cleaning validation program

A mandate for ultrasonic cleaning will usually include a cleanliness standard for the finished product you move on to the customer. In aerospace, the required cleanliness usually falls between 0.01 grams and 0.001 grams per cm2.

If you don’t yet have a cleaning validation program, now is the time to put one in place. The right validation method(s) can vary widely and depend on the nature of the products you’re validating and of the soils that contaminate them. The good news: It’s not rocket science, if you’ll excuse the phrase. We’ve done two recent blogs posts here and here that can serve as a resource to start from.

  1. Examine your workflow for new efficiencies

Ultrasonic cleaning will mean less time assembling and disassembling items, less rework and re-cleaning. That’s because ultrasonic cavitation will reach anywhere on a component that water will reach, and it scrubs grime of any type from the surface of the part. In addition, ultrasonic cleaning takes less time and no one will need to manually clean the items. That means you have an opportunity to use both time and personnel in a more efficient manner.

Take as an example a station where an employee is assigned to manually remove grime from batches of components before they are recoated. Such a station would no longer need to be constantly manned, and the ultrasonic cleaning process would most likely involve a typical five to seven minute immersion for each batch instead of thirty minutes or so of scrubbing. What could that worker be doing now instead of scrubbing parts? How much of their time is currently spent re-cleaning parts which failed the coating stage because of incomplete cleaning?

This is time you’ll now have available, so why not begin planning how you’ll make use of it?

  1. Consider automation

Depending on your specific cleaning needs, you may need to take the items to be cleaned through multiple baths and rinses. Rather than have a worker oversee this process, consider our custom automation installations, which can move batches of items through a predetermined process without any worker intervention other than placing the batch in a start zone monitored by a smart sensor.

  1. Get in touch

At Ultrasonic Power Corporation, we believe that customer satisfaction isn’t just about building them high-quality cleaning units. It’s also about helping them make the transition to ultrasonic cleaning successfully. We also offer free parts testing so you can get more information on the best cleaning options for the unique challenges you face. Contact us today and we’ll see how we can help move you forward.

How Ultrasonic Cleaning Reduces High Aerospace Labor Costs Without Eliminating Jobs

Ultrasonic Cleaning – Aerospace Industry

No matter how advanced the equipment or how involved the processes in your aerospace operation, it’s likely your largest expense is your workforce. Fewer workers will obviously mean less expense, but will that compromise safety or increase turnaround times to the point that your savings are a pyrrhic victory? The better option is to find efficiencies and increase what your current workforce can accomplish in a given amount of time

Ultrasonic cleaning technology is perfect for cutting the time spent on tasks, and therefore on the amount it will cost. Let’s take a look at 6 ways you can reduce costs workforce-wise. You might say each of them means doing without.

Cleaning without scrubbing or spraying
Ultrasonic cleaning depends on cavitation. Sound waves cause microscopic bubbles to form and collapse on the surfaces of the items being cleaned. Every time a bubble collapses, dirt and other contaminants are scrubbed off the part.

Consider how much time must be spent making sure a component with an especially complex shape is truly clean: handling, scrubbing, spraying, inspecting, scrubbing again. Instead, you can immerse the part in an ultrasonic bath and know it will be spotless in 5 to 7 minutes.

Cleaning without disassembly and reassembly
Another feature of cavitation is that it reaches anywhere liquid can reach. That means almost all items can just be immersed in the ultrasonic cleaning unit’s tank without being disassembled. It also means you won’t have to pay a worker to take them apart and put them back together.

Cleaning without rework, recoating or scrapping
Any time a human handles a product, damage is a risk, and the more handling there is, the higher the risk. With ultrasonic cleaning, the added risk from hand cleaning is eliminated, greatly reducing the opportunities for a worker to ding, drop or mark a component.

Once you eliminate hand cleaning, you also eliminate the possibility of overlooking contaminants. With ultrasonic cavitation removing everything from the surface there will be no oils, greases or other contaminants that might interfere with a later coating application. This saves you not only the cost the of reapplying but the cost of cleaning the component a second time and all the time needed to detect, document and correct problems caused by spray or hand cleaning.

Cleaning without harsh chemicals and their associated labor costs
The microscopic bubbles handle all the work in ultrasonic cleaning, so there’s no need for harsh chemicals to loosen or break down contaminants. Only a mild detergent is needed. That means you save the cost of training and safety gear (and the time spent donning and doffing it) as well as the cost of time spent on compliance and disposal. For that matter, you save the disposal costs, too!

Cleaning without high maintenance machinery
With no moving parts other than a filtration pump, an ultrasonic cleaner is much easier to maintain than an industrial spray washer, freeing your maintenance crew for other tasks.

Cleaning without paying an employee to monitor the process
Imagine the savings if a worker could just place items to be cleaned and walk away to another task. With our automation options, a basket of parts placed in the proper zone will be recognized by a smart sensor and moved through the cleaning cycle (with multiple cleaning and rinsing steps, if you require) and then placed in a retrieval area.

Your most important resource is your people, and their knowledge, energy and time are virtually priceless. But like any other resource, those qualities can be wasted if you aren’t proactive in managing them. Ultrasonic cleaning is a great way to ensure you accomplish more together at a lower cost.

What Can We Clean? Ultrasonic Cleaning and Aerospace Applications

Ultrasonic Cleaning – Aerospace Industry

In our previous blogs, we’ve looked at how you can make your aerospace operation more efficient with ultrasonic cleaning. But you may still be wondering if it will clean the specific items you work with.

The short answer? Ultrasonic cleaning will remove almost any contaminant from anything that can be immersed. But let’s take a look at that in detail. We need to cover two main subjects: Why it works and what aerospace items it works with.

The Why: Ultrasonic Cavitation

An object only needs to meet two “eligibility requirements” for ultrasonic cleaning: It needs to be immersible and able to be dried relatively easily.

When ultrasonic waves travel through liquid and meet a solid surface, they create millions of microscopic bubbles on the surface of the item in a phenomenon called cavitation. As these bubbles form and collapse, they blast away contaminants. So the items need to be submerged, but it also means areas a human worker or spray washer would have great difficulty reaching are scrubbed spotless.

As for “relatively easy” drying, most items meet this requirement unless they are especially absorbent. Anything that can be air dried (with or without a blower) can be cleaned ultrasonically.

That leaves us with an immense list of cleanable objects, encompassing everything from nuclear waste cleaning robots to jewelry. But what about the specifics of aerospace?

The What: Aerospace Applications

It might be easier to list the items in this field ultrasonics can’t clean, but here’s a review of common items:

Vehicle components

Whether you’re cleaning parts before you reinstall them on an airframe or clearing grime from a hydraulic part prior to refurbishment, ultrasonic cleaners will remove contamination more thoroughly and quickly than personnel can. Because cavitation works through a mechanical scrubbing action, there’s no need to attack the contaminant with specific chemical compounds. Any type of dirt seen in the aerospace sphere–including oils and greases–can be completely removed.

When you need tools or equipment from your aerospace operation cleaned, you can use the same ultrasonic cleaners and be sure the gear will be spotless in just minutes.

Newly manufactured parts

Of course, this category covers parts that are formed in a CNC machine, items that are bored out on a press, etc. But we’re including some others here, such as certain ceramics, glass and polished metals. If an item has been machined, honed, lapped, buffed, or polished, there will be residue on it in the form of chips, dust, polishing compounds or cutting oils.

Here the strength of ultrasonic cleaning is in its versatility—the cavitation in the cleaner will remove oils just as easily as chips or dust—and its thoroughness. You won’t have to worry about something being missed and ruining a later step where paint or some other coating is applied.

Avionics and other electronic items

Most of us would recoil with horror at the idea of combining expensive avionics and water. However, as long as proper drying techniques are used, an ultrasonic cleaner will not only clean electronic devices, but clean them more quickly and completely than any other method. It will also do so in a safe and green way. In the past, it was common to use trichlorethylene to clean avionics, but ultrasonic cleaning usually requires only water and a mild detergent additive.

Glass and other fragile items

After years of entertainment media portrayals of high frequency sound shattering glass into bits, it may seem like an atrocious idea to clean fragile components with powerful sound waves above the human hearing range. But ultrasonic cleaning is perfectly safe for these items, and can actually save you money in the long run because they will experience less handling and therefore fewer opportunities for scratches or other damage.

Being sure

In a field where quality expectations and manufacturing and repair costs are stratospheric, ultrasonic cleaning excels. But if there’s any doubt whether this technology is the right fit for items you clean, we offer free testing. You can arrange to submit a typical item from your facility and our staff will test clean it, providing you with detailed results.

How Clean Is Clean? Cleaning Validation in the Aerospace Environment

In our previous cleaning validation post, we discussed creating a validation program by choosing a cleanliness standard, creating a plan which accounts for all your challenges and processes, choosing the best measurement method, and putting regular reviews in place.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at choosing a measurement method. We’ll review the methods that fit the cleanliness standards most commonly seen in aerospace, covering how they work and what kinds of soils they are best at detecting. Armed with this information, you can begin deciding what will fit  your particular operation.

How clean?

When we talk about cleanliness—and when upper management or a customer sends you a cleanliness spec to meet—the standard is usually expressed as a certain weight of contaminant substances over a certain area, such as .01 grams per square centimeter. To comply, you’ll need to be at or below that weight. In aerospace, the required cleanliness usually falls between between 0.01 grams and 0.001 grams per cm2. The validation methods required at this level tend to be technically sophisticated, but can still be simple to perform. Lower levels of contamination than 0.001 grams can be achieved, but tend to provide diminishing returns.

Which method?

So, how do we ensure we’re hitting the target? Let’s look at the available methods:

  • Extraction—This is a high tech version of a white glove test. A swab or filter paper is used to wipe a surface, then is analyzed with a process such as UV visible spectrophotometry, atomic absorption or liquid chromatography. Extraction is especially well suited to detecting detergent residues, and it can give you a quantitative analysis of your remaining soils if the sample is always taken from a known area. It can also detect contamination levels below a microgram per cm2.
  • Gravimetric Analysis—You might say this process is dirt simple. It also allows you to not only evaluate the cleanliness of parts, but evaluate your basic cleaning process as well. In the first case, small parts (or batches of them) can be weighed, and their weight compared to the “clean weight” of a properly cleaned part. If the item weighs more, contamination is present. In the second case, a “coupon” or other sample item can be weighed clean, weighed dirty, then cleaned and weighed a third time. When the three weights are compared, you’ll have clear data points telling you exactly how much dirt is being removed.
  • In-Situ Particle Monitoring (ISPM)–The ISPM method allows users of ultrasonic cleaning to monitor effectiveness in real time by collecting samples of their cleaning medium upstream of their filtration setup. These samples can then be examined for soil concentration. This allows you to refine your ultrasonic cleaning process as frequently as you wish, and also allows you to perform A/B testing of different detergents (or concentrations thereof), cleaning times, preparation methods, etc.
  • Millipore Filter Measurement—Parts are sprayed with a solvent at a pressure of 60 to 80 psi, and the resulting stream is vacuumed into a filter membrane. The membrane can then be inspected by microscope or weighed to detect contaminants.
  • Optical Microscopy—While we’re on the subject, examining sample parts with high powered microscopes is a simple and effective option, especially for electronics. The drawback? The operators need careful training and the equipment tends to be expensive.
  • Oil Evaporation—Another simple, low tech method, but only useful to detect oil residues. A few drops of solvent are placed on the part’s surface, then removed and placed on a watch glass to dry. If oils are present, they will leave a visible residue when they dry.
  • Surface Energy Testing—If a material is hard and flat, it’s possible to predict the size a droplet of a given liquid will form on its surface. Hydrophobic soils will cause the droplets to be smaller; hydrophilic soils will produce larger droplets. The one drawback? It’s ineffective on parts that have numerous crevices and holes.

Ultrasonic cleaning delivers unparalleled results, and with ultrasonic cleaners, the advanced SonicTouch II® control system and the right validation methods, you can deliver a perfectly spotless finished product.


A Passivation Primer: Using Ultrasonic Cleaning to Protect Aerospace Components From Rust

No matter what type of aerospace technology you’re working with or what your exact activities are—manufacturing, refurbishment, maintenance or operations—you’ll be handling numerous stainless steel components. From tubing on rocket engines to the sinks and toilets in airliner lavatories, from landing gear to piston engine manifolds to simple fasteners, the ability of stainless steel to resist corrosion and maintain its mechanical properties under a wide range of stresses and temperatures makes it indispensable. In this field, corrosion is an enormous cost and safety concern, and as they say, rust never sleeps.

Unfortunately, even stainless steel can be compromised and become subject to corrosion. This mainly occurs through contamination. Here are some common sources:

  • Contamination from the cutting surfaces of tools used to machine or repair the components, which can leave behind microscopic portions of a blade or bit.
  • Damage from handling and/or maintenance.
  • Exposure to common dirt or shop dust.
  • Sulfide exposure at the surface of stainless alloys with relatively high amounts of sulfur in the mix for ease of machining.

These contaminants damage your stainless steel in two main ways. First, any damage or contaminant disrupts the amazingly thin layer of chromium oxide that protects the metal from atmospheric oxygen and therefore from corrosion. This layer is so thin— one-ten-millionth of an inch thick, or about 1/100,000th as thick as a human hair—as to be invisible to the naked eye.

The chromium oxide layer forms automatically when the steel is exposed to air, so theoretically it will reform over the steel’s surface immediately. That brings us to the second way the contaminants compromise the steel. Any material left behind, embedded in or lying on the surface, can not only compromise the layer but introduce corrosion directly onto the metal. This is especially true if the contaminant contains iron, and even shop dust will often contain tiny amounts. Sulfide exposure has the same effect.

The good news? A passivation bath of nitric or citric acid can reestablish the chromium oxide layer. But prior to that, it’s essential that the part is perfectly clean. For that task, there’s no substitute for ultrasonic cleaning. Let’s look at the clear advantages of ultrasonic cleaning in this area:

Hand cleaning can be especially expensive in an aerospace environment and may not remove all contamination

If you pay an employee to clean the part, they will almost certainly be a highly paid specialist who could be using their advanced technical skills elsewhere in your operation. Instead, placing batches in an ultrasonic cleaner allows you to make them spotless in minutes.

Mechanical washers can miss contaminants

Like hand washing, spray washers can’t necessarily reach every surface of a component, especially if improper loading prevents a spray stream from reaching it. But the bubbles formed in ultrasonic cavitation reach any spot that liquid will reach, eliminating the possibility of missed spots—or scratches and dings—from human error.

Ultrasonic cleaning eliminates grease and oils

Cutting oils and other greasy substances can prevent passivation because they react with the chemical bath and form bubbles that keep the acid away from the surface. That means pitting or rusting later on. Ultrasonic cleaning will remove these oils without error.

Ultrasonic cleaning prevents flash attack

Some contaminants can cause a sudden change in the passivation bath’s chemical makeup known as a “flash attack.” The result is parts that are darkened and may also suffer from etching. That means rework at best and ruined components at worst. However, ultrasonic cleaning reaches each surface and removes any contaminants, preventing a flash attack.

Today’s aviation and spaceflight operations depend on corrosion-resistant components. To deliver them you need a cleaning process you can depend on, and ultrasonic cleaning delivers unsurpassed results.


3 Reasons Why an Ultrasonic Cleaner Gets Better Results than Industrial Spray Washers

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.

3 Cost Saving Benefits of Ultrasonic Cleaners vs. Spray Washers

There’s no denying the right equipment can have a major effect on your facility’s bottom line. As more customers raise the bar when it comes to cleanliness requirements, the cleaning processes you use provide an opportunity to realize those kinds of savings.

Using ultrasonic cleaners vs. spray washers can save money by delivering increased efficiency, lowered costs, a better product and safer employees. Here’s how.

Saving on chemicals

Setups vary, but cleaning with sprayers requires detergents and possibly other specialized cleaning chemicals. Depending on the grime you’re removing, you may need some very aggressive additives. You may also have green concerns at the top of your priority list. In that case, you’ll be using substances specifically designed for low environmental impact.

The more caustic brews bring safety concerns and therefore greater training costs. In addition, there will either be the added headache of disposal or added maintenance hassle from a purification system. The green mixes are often more expensive and are less effective for some applications. In both cases, you may find that maximum effectiveness requires meeting an exact mix ratio and temperature range.

So, is there a sweet spot? Yes, but it’s not a substance, it’s a process: Ultrasonic cavitation.

When ultrasonic waves pass through a liquid, they form and then compress miniscule bubbles of gas. As these bubbles constantly form and implode, they create a powerful jet which strikes the surface of the part and dislodges contaminants. These implosions can create temperatures of 5,000 degrees Celsius, but because all this takes place on an extremely small scale, it ends up being more gentle and more thorough than any other method.

In fact, when Cagnazzi Racing was experiencing massive engine damage from tiny impurities on their components, they switched from spray washing to ultrasonic cleaning and eliminated the problem. “Having a system like this allows us to use the latest technology to make sure our engine components are as clean as possible before final assembly,” Joe Hornick, Cagnazzi’s Director of Engine Development said. “Now we can do that better, cheaper, and in an environmentally friendly way.”

Ultrasonic cleaners do use a detergent in their liquid medium. However, it’s extremely mild and is there to grab dirt particles the cavitation has blasted away. That means lower expense for the detergent itself, no regulatory compliance costs and no disposal problems. It also means no costs for safety training and no need to pay workers to don, doff, handle or maintain safety equipment.

Saving on labor

There’s more to labor savings with ultrasonic cleaning than the cost reduction from making your workers safer. First, you’ll save on disassembling and reassembling parts. Because ultrasonic cleaners scrub wherever liquid reaches, you won’t have to disassemble a component to make sure spray hits a hidden recess.

Second, you’ll save by avoiding rework and recoating. Because ultrasonic cleaning is gentler and requires less handling, there are fewer opportunities for dings, drops and other errors that can cause a part to be sent back through the line. And because ultrasonic cavitation hits every spot on every surface, you won’t risk having oils or other contaminants remain on parts that are receiving a coating.

Third, you may be able to automate part of the process. We now offer customized automation options, using smart sensors to control a system that moves each basket of parts through a pre-programmed cycle. This can include multiple rinse and cleaning baths as you require.

Saving on maintenance

Spray washers can be a maintenance nightmare, with an abundance of moving parts and potential problems from leaks – whether the leaking liquid is water or a toxic additive.

An ultrasonic cleaner will have no moving parts except for a filtration pump. That frees your maintenance crew to concentrate on other tasks and saves on parts replacement as well.

By allowing you to get rid of solvent, use your workers’ time more effectively and cut down on unnecessary maintenance, it’s clear that ultrasonic cleaners can help you make a clean break from needless expense.