What Can You Clean with an Ultrasonic Cleaner, Part II – The List

In our previous blog we covered why so many things can be cleaned with ultrasonic cleaning.  You learned there are only two “eligibility requirements” for items to be cleaned. First, they must be able to handle immersion, because the cavitation that powers ultrasonic cleaning can only take place in a liquid environment. Second, the item must be able to be dried easily. You also learned that, in general, as long as a contaminant can be removed from the surface it’s on, it can be removed with an ultrasonic cleaner. This covers everything from common dirt to engine sludge, soot and cutting oils.

In short, there’s hardly a plant on Earth that doesn’t have something to use ultrasonic cleaning on, and you can reduce costs while doing so.

Still, you may want to get more specific. We’ve prepared a list of example items. Let’s take a look at it, and look in more detail at some of the categories they fall into.

  • Aerospace components
  • Anything that is honed, lapped, buffed, or polished (ceramic, glass, metals)
  • Automotive parts, from engine blocks to fuel injector nozzles
  • Bearings
  • Carbide cutting tools
  • CRT’s and related components
  • Circuit boards and chips
  • Disk drives
  • Electronic units
  • Fire restoration
  • Firearm cleaning
  • Glass substrates
  • Glassware cleaning—including laboratory and medical glassware
  • Hybrid microelectronic circuits (thin and thick film circuits)
  • Hypodermic needle stock (cannulae)
  • Jewelry (new manufacture)
  • Lenses
  • Maintenance cleaning of mechanical assemblies
  • Maintenance cleaning of food manufacturing filling equipment
  • Manufacturing molds
  • Nuclear decontamination
  • Optical components
  • Orthopedic implants
  • Preparation of metals prior to titanium nitride coating
  • Quartz crystals (radio, television, computer, cellular phones)
  • Semiconductor components, substrates, and sub-assemblies
  • Surgical instruments
  • Thick film furnace belt (during operation)
  • Window blinds
  • Wire dies

Remember, our list is anything but exhaustive, because ultrasonic cleaning is so versatile. Now, on to the categories:

Aerospace components

In a field where quality expectations and manufacturing/repair costs are stratospheric, ultrasonic cleaning excels. Whether cleaning cutting oil off newly machined components, making stainless steel parts spotless before they are passivated or clearing grime from a hydraulic part prior to refurbishment, ultrasonic cleaners will remove contamination more thoroughly and quickly than manual processes. Ultrasonic cleaning is also very well-suited to avionics, as we’ll see in the next section.

Electronics

On our list, you’ll find examples such as circuit boards, chips and entire electronic products. Most of us would recoil in horror at the idea of placing electronics in water, but 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.

In the past, it was common to use trichlorethylene to clean electronic equipment, but ultrasonic cleaning usually requires only water and a mild detergent additive.

Machined components—and any items that need a coating removed

Of course, this 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, etc.

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. Ultrasonic cavitation reaches anywhere that the liquid the part is immersed in reaches, so you won’t have to worry about something being missed and ruining a later step where paint or some other coating is applied.

When you help customers blast contaminants off everything from tiny lenses to nuclear waste cleaning robots, one blog post isn’t enough to cover it all.  We’ll cover some more categories in our next post. But if you’d like more information on how some of our customers used these highly reliable machines in an industrial environment to reduce costs and deliver a cleaner product, click here to learn about Ushers Machine and Tool or here to download Ultrasonics to the Rescue, a case study of the results seen by Componex.

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