How does an ultrasonic cleaning machine work?

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How does an ultrasonic cleaning machine work?

An ultrasonic cleaning machine is simply a bath filled with a cleaning solution through which ultrasound is passed. Items placed within the bath will be subjected to the ultrasonic cleaning activity, specifically the implosions caused by cavitation which sucks dirt off the surface of items placed within the bath.

An ultrasonic bath typically has 5 components;

The bath itself, to hold the cleaning solution and the parts being cleaned. Size does matter! The bath must be large enough to hold the basket with parts being cleaned, with sufficient space for an effective clean.

The cleaning solution used to remove the dirt of items placed in the bath. The cleaning solution must assist in taking the dirt off, not damage the item being cleaned, and effectively transmit ultrasonic waves. Health, safety and environmental factors regarding the handling, storage and disposal of the solution are also important considerations.

A basket to hold the parts being cleaned in the bath. The basket holds the items being cleaned off the base of the tank, and does not impede ultrasonic activity. It must clearly be strong enough and with a mesh of the right size to hold the items being cleaned securely and safely during the cleaning process.

A generator that converts mains frequency (50 Hz in the UK) to an ultrasonic frequency typically 25 to 80 kHz. This is often sited away from the bath itself for safety and ease of maintenance.

Transducers that vibrate at the frequency generated by the generator transmitting the ultrasound waves through the solution within the bath. These transducers are designed to vibrate effectively at the frequency produced by the generator. They can be sited on the base or walls of the bath itself, using the steel walls as the diaphragm to pass the waves through the solution inside the bath. Alternatively, the transducers can be bonded on the inside walls of a steel box which is submerged in the bath. The ultrasound waves are then passed from the “submersible” into the bath solution. For larger baths, submersibles are often preferred to tank bonded transducers, since they are easier to remove for maintenance separately from the bath itself.

Although the general set up of an ultrasonic cleaner is the same, the specific details of the components are variable depending on the exact cleaning process it is designed for.

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