Ultrasonic Cleaning is Mild-Mannered, But Still Super

Like a certain “mild-mannered reporter at a major metropolitan daily,” ultrasonic cavitation provides powerful results by working smarter rather than harder, unlike other methods of conventional cleaning. If you’re using solvents to clean parts or tools in your facility, you’ll find that ultrasonic cleaning is the mild-mannered, environmentally safe technology you’re looking for to reduce costs and deliver a cleaner product.

Let’s look at some of the expenses that can mount up if you use a solvent to clean your parts. If you’re a manager at a manufacturing plant, at least some of these will apply whether you’re using part washer stations or spraying solvent on parts, then scrubbing.

Solvent won’t take contaminants off the parts itself, so it goes without saying that you’ll have to pay someone to clean the items. That leaves you on the hook not only for the time they spend, but for the gear and training they’ll need to do it safely. We recently covered labor savings with ultrasonic cleaning in a previous blog.

Then there’s the cost of the solvent itself. Not a major expense, but one that, as we’ll see, is unnecessary. You may be using a solvent or cleaning chemical with a flash point above 140° F in order to avoid a hazardous waste classification, but such chemicals are sometimes not as effective in removing the worst grime. That means you trade off greater disposal fees for greater effort (and therefore greater cost) to achieve the same cleaning result. Even if you move your waste out of the hazardous category, it will probably classify as a “special waste” or other type of material your state has special handling laws for.

Speaking of tradeoffs, the next thing to consider is the tension between more frequent disposal and working to lengthen the time between disposals. If you don’t take action to preserve the solvent, you won’t have additional expenses, but you will need to dispose of it more often. If you use methods that keep it fresh and effective longer—workers spending more time and effort cleaning the parts, filtering the solvent, etc.—you’ll use it longer, but rack up additional expense. For example, not only will a filtration system be an expense in itself, but the filters themselves will count as a hazardous waste.

And aqueous solutions? They bring different versions of the same problems. You may need workers to pre-clean parts for even the best aqueous machines, the chemicals can be pricey and the highly corrosive nature of many aqueous cleaners makes disposal as problematic and costly as petroleum-based or organic solvents.

To put it simply, ultrasonic cleaning can eliminate all these problems.

With ultrasonic cleaning, there are no expensive chemicals to purchase. The medium for most applications is water and a mild detergent. These detergents cost a fraction as much as petroleum-based or organic solvents, and unlike those solvents, only a small amount is used in the medium.

Employees scrubbing parts? Not with ultrasonic cleaning. As ultrasound waves strike the surface of the parts being cleaned, millions of microscopic bubbles are formed by cavitation. As these form and collapse, they impact the surface of the part and scrub contaminants off it. This not only saves labor, but eliminates the inevitable consequences of human error, such as damaged parts. That means fewer reworked and scrapped parts. Your employees will be safer, too, because you’ve eliminated dangerous chemicals.

Disposal fees? Those won’t be a problem when the medium is no more hazardous than domestic dishwater.

Saving money and delivering a cleaner product? Sounds like ultrasonic cleaning is a super solution.

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