One of the great things about ultrasonic cleaning is that it can be done to remove virtually every type of contaminant simply by varying the chemistry of the cleaning solution. Whilst this flexibility is one of the major benefits of ultrasonic cleaning compared to the alternatives, it also means there is a wide range of chemical cost attributable to the cleaning process.
However, five major factors determine the total lifetime cost of the chemical to be used in ultrasonic cleaning. The first four of these factors are inherent in the chemical itself and therefore almost a given, but the last one depends on how the chemical is used in practice so can be influenced by the user of the chemical. They are as follows;
- Contaminant to be removed; Chemicals used in ultrasonic cleaning vary from acid bases used in the removal of scales and rusts, alkalines for the removal of carbons, greases and oils, and solvent bases for the removal of paints and synthetic coatings. Generally speaking, the cheapest chemistry is alkaline based, progressing to acid-based with solvent-based chemicals the most expensive.
- Additives; Every cleaning operation is slightly different, depending upon the contaminant to be taken off, and the material the part to be cleaned is made of. Therefore even within each of the 3 categories above there are wide variations since the precise nature of the contaminant or the part may require a specific additive. Such additives include inhibitors to make the chemical less aggressive to lighter metals like aluminium; prevention of foaming; prevention of future rust; emulsifiers to absorb oils etc… Not surprisingly the more complex the chemistry, the more expensive the chemical cleaner. The inhibition of reaction to light metals can nearly double the cost of the concentrated chemical used in the ultrasonic bath.
- Dilution levels also play a significant role in the overall chemical cost. Typically solvent-based cleaning solutions are used at higher concentrations than alkalines and acids. Obviously the higher the concentration of the chemical required in the ultrasonic bath, the more chemical is used and the higher the real cost of the bath solution.
- Consumption of the chemical in cleaning – This may seem odd, but whilst all cleaning chemicals will be used up by the cleaning operation over time, some chemistries are physically consumed by it. These will include the following 3 principal chemicals;
- Acids used up in the physical reaction with scale or rust;
- Additives like emulsifiers and chelants which attach to the contaminants being removed;
- Solvents which evaporate at the temperatures being used in cleaning.Once these elements of the cleaning solution have been consumed the solution will stop working effectively and need replacing. The quicker this happens the more expensive the real cost of the chemical being used.
- Longevity of use – Likewise how long the chemical lasts in the ultrasonic bath also influences its true cost to the business. This, in turn, will be affected by 2 factors;
- Levels of dirt on the parts being cleaned – the dirtier the parts are, the shorter the working life of the cleaning solution, and the more expensive the real chemical cost. Pre-cleaning of parts before putting them in an ultrasonic bath can dramatically reduce the chemical usage in the bath, thereby lowering its cost.
- Removal of contaminant from the bath – this will prolong the working life of the chemical in the bath. Practices such as filtration for particulate contaminant, skimming of oil contaminants, and evaporation/condensation for solvent cleaner recovery, all prolong the useful life of the chemicals in the ultrasonic bath, and thereby reduce the effective cost of the cleaning chemical being used.
From the above it can be seen that the full cost of the cleaning chemical will therefore depend not just upon the cost of the initial purchase, but also the actual usage to achieve the required or desired clean.
To give a rough guide to the costs of our cleaning solutions and their broad uses the following matrix may be helpful;
||USED TO REMOVE
||COST PER LITRE
||Inks, Paints, Carbons, Greases
||£3.60 to £6.70
||Rust, scale, oxide, flux
||£5.80 to £8.80
||Oils, Greases, synthetic materials
||£6.20 to £10.00
Of course the most expensive cleaning solution is the one that doesn’t work! Here at Sonic, where we do a lot of cleaning ourselves, we are very aware of all these factors and use the most economic solutions for the job. We sell the same chemicals that we use, and we offer free trial cleaning for all new customers to make sure the entire cleaning process, including the chemical, is optimised.
For any questions you may have about cleaning chemicals just get in touch, and we’ll be happy to help.
To understand more about ultrasonic cleaning and how it might benefit you and your application please call or email one of our helpful cleaning experts today on 01924 938052 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The answer to this question varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some suppliers like to offer a neat, premixed solution that can be used to fill the tank and is ready to go. This work alright for smaller tanks of say, less than 25 litres, but for a tank larger than that it can become quite laborious to fill. With some customers having tanks upwards of 200L, they would need a specialist pump to pump the solution into their tank.
Over the years we have seen many different companies use different dilution ratios. We found that for us personally, a 10% chemical mix with water is a perfect solution. It means that we can fill up to a 250L tank easily as we can pour a 25L drum into our tanks without any issue. It also means that you can adjust the dilution rate should you require it. For example, when removing very light dirt from PCB’s, we dilute one of our products called ‘Caresol Safe’ down to 5% with water. This gives us enough cleaning power to remove the contaminant while being gentle on the boards and remaining economical. We may also up the dilution ratio to 20% for really heavy-duty cleaning such as thick scale or grease.
When using a chemical for the first time. We always recommend starting on a lower dilution rate and working up should you need to to find the most effective and economical ratio that works for you. With our own range of chemicals, we suggest starting at around 5% and working your way up.
Before using any ultrasonic cleaning chemical you should always check with the supplier about dilution rates and best practice on its use.
To discuss our cleaning chemicals or for a chat about how you can improve your cleaning processes, call us on 01924 938052 or email email@example.com today and ask about our trial clean offer.
In short, we do use water, but it’s mixed with a cleaning agent. How much so is dependant upon the item you’re cleaning and the contaminant you’re removing. Different ultrasonic cleaning chemical manufacturers give their own guidelines on what concentrations should be used which varies.
Typically our ultrasonic cleaning solutions are mixed at 10% cleaning solution vs 90% water. For some tougher cleaning jobs the concentration may need to be increased. This is usually done through trial and error to find the perfect balance.
Other ultrasonic chemical suppliers and manufacturers sell a pre-mixed solution that doesn’t require any further dilation and also some others that use a 1:1 dilution ratio.
When selecting a cleaning chemical, it’s always advisable to trial it first to avoid any unwanted reaction. Ensure that you carefully read the applications section of the label. Each supplier should be able to give you clear guidelines on proper usage of the solution and what ratios to use.
For more information about our solutions and your applications please call us today on 01924 495 975 or email firstname.lastname@example.org