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All You Need To Know About Cleaning With Ultrasonic

What Can an Ultrasonic Cleaner Remove?

An electronic cleaning tool known as an ultrasonic cleaner, also known as a sonic cleaner or ultrasonic washer, uses sound waves to clean objects. Ultrasonic cleaners come in different sizes and can be used to clean a variety of items, including jewellery, dental tools, eyeglasses, automotive parts, and more. You need to know if this technology can handle the task you have in mind if you’re thinking about using ultrasonic cleaning to improve the efficiency of your facility. So what can ultrasonic cleaners clean, you might be wondering. Find out by reading on.

How Does an Ultrasonic Cleaner Work?

In order to produce cavitation bubbles in a cleaning solution, ultrasonic cleaners use high frequency sound waves which produced by an ultrasonic transducer. As the ultrasonic cavitation bubbles burst, a cleaning action is created that can get rid of grease, dirt, and other deposits from surfaces. High frequency sound waves generate ultrasonic energy that aids in removing tough-to-remove deposits with conventional cleaning techniques. As a result, a variety of cleaning tasks can be accomplished using ultrasonic cleaners. The majority of ultrasonic cleaners use water or a water-based solution as the cleaning agent and typically operate at frequencies between 20 kHz and 400 kHz. The following fundamental parts make up an ultrasonic cleaning device, also known as an ultrasonic bath device or ultrasonic washer:

  • Ultrasonic Cleaning Tank – The items to be cleaned are kept in the ultrasonic cleaning tank along with the ultrasonic bath fluid.
  • Ultrasonic generator – AC electrical energy is converted to an ultrasonic frequency by the ultrasonic generator.
  • Ultrasonic transducer – The transducer transforms the electrical signal from the ultrasonic into mechanical energy.

What is an ultrasonic transducer?

The essential element of an ultrasonic cleaning device is the ultrasonic transducer. The ultrasonic transducer, also known as an ultrasonic vibration generator, is a device that produces sound above the human hearing range, typically beginning at 20 kHz. A backing, a radiating plate, and an active element make up an ultrasonic transducer. The active element in the majority of ultrasonic cleaners is a piezoelectric crystal. Through the piezoelectric effect, which occurs when crystals receive electrical energy and change size and shape, the piezoelectric crystal transforms electrical energy into ultrasonic energy. The energy that radiates from the back of the piezoelectric crystal is absorbed by the thick backing of an ultrasonic transducer. An ultrasonic transducer’s radiating plate functions as a diaphragm to convert the ultrasonic

What is an ultrasonic generator?

A power source is the electronic ultrasonic generator. It changes the AC electrical energy from a power source, like a wall outlet, into the kind of electrical energy necessary to activate an ultrasonic transducer. In other words, the transducer receives electrical pulses of high voltage from the ultrasonic generator. In order to create mechanical (pressure) waves in the cleaning fluid for vibratory ultrasonic washing, the ultrasonic generator works by delivering electrical energy pulses to the transducer.

What Are Typical Applications for Ultrasonic Cleaners?

Ultrasonic cleaning is a very effective method for cleaning a wide variety of items. The cause? Before something can be cleaned in this manner, there are only two simple eligibility requirements. Only in a liquid environment will cavitation take place, which drives ultrasonic cleaning and scrubs contaminants off parts. As a result, the item must be submerged without suffering harm. You might be surprised by some qualifying items.

For instance, most of us would shudder at the thought of putting electronics in water, but an ultrasonic washer will not only clean electronic components, but will do so faster and more thoroughly than any other method as long as proper drying techniques are used.

The ability of the part to be dried relatively quickly is the second requirement. This eliminates absorbent items, but the majority of the rest can just be air dried with a blower. Because of this, ultrasonic cleaning is used to remove unwanted materials from a wide range of items, including jewellery, long rifles, massive engine parts, extremely delicate lenses, surgical instruments, and motherboards. You might be wondering if relatively brittle materials like glass or ceramics will be harmed by ultrasonic waves. These materials can be cleaned using ultrasonic technology without any problems. Sonic cleaners are utilised for a variety of tasks in addition to cleaning. You could passivate stainless steel, for instance, by using a nitric or citric acid solution in the ultrasonic tank.

What Contaminants Do Ultrasonic Cleaners Remove?

In general, an ultrasonic cleaner can remove contaminants as long as they can be removed from the surface they are on. Contaminants that could require numerous applications of elbow grease can be removed in a short amount of time. To remove soot from smoke-damaged items, for example, disaster restoration companies will use ultrasonic cleaning. Watch this brief video of dirt being blasted off the surface of a copper part to get an idea of the impressive results users can observe.

From common dirt and engine sludge to the kind of oily chemicals that can prevent paints and other coatings from adhering to finished products, ultrasonic cleaning can remove it all. This includes cutting oils, lubricants, grease, buffing and polishing agents, and more. Spores and viruses are among the few things that ultrasonic cleaning cannot get rid of. After other contaminants have been eliminated in your ultrasonic washer, the medical instruments you are cleaning will need to be sterilised. It’s important and good to keep in mind that you should choose the best ultrasonic cleaning method for the job at hand. For instance, most general cleaning applications are suitable for a mildly alkaline cleaning solution, whereas tougher jobs might need a highly caustic detergent.

Will Ultrasonic Cleaning Damage My Parts?

Ultrasonic cleaning is generally safe for all materials, but prolonged exposure to the chemicals and detergents used in ultrasonic cleaning may have a negative effect on the surface of some metals. Consult the product’s manufacturer for more details on the specific warnings associated with using particular ultrasonic cleaning solutions and general guidelines for the safe operation of an ultrasonic cleaning system. If placed in an ultrasonic tank, aluminium with a mirror-like finish will lose its brilliance. To prevent that, a special dispersion plate is required.

What is the Best Ultrasonic Cleaning Frequency?

Three frequency ranges are used by ultrasonic cleaning systems: 20 to 40 kHz, 40 to 70 kHz, and 70 to 200 kHz. The type of cleaning required determines how frequently to use the system. The majority of industrial applications call for large parts with little to no intricate detail and a relatively quick cleaning frequency range of 20 to 40 Khz. Systems between 20 and 40 Khz work well for intensive cleaning.

When cleaning installations with intricately detailed parts, tiny orifices, or lengthy tubes, the 40 cleaning frequency range is ideal. Generally speaking, 40Khz systems use more power than 20Khz systems, clean more slowly, but with finer cleaning. For specialized operations like the delicate, fine cleaning of optics, semiconductor wafers, and hard-disk drive components, the cleaning frequency range of 70 to 200 Khz is ideal. Lower frequencies are intended to “scrub” heavily soiled surfaces, while higher frequencies clean more gently.

What’s the Best Ultrasonic Cleaning Solution?

For instance, SharperTek offers three different kinds of ultrasonic cleaning solutions: solvent replacement, mild acid, and mild alkaline. What kind of dirt or deposit needs to be removed will determine the best cleaning solution. The best ultrasonic cleaning solution for oily parts is a mild alkaline one. The way this substance functions is by dissolving the ionic bond that has developed between an oil and a metal. The oil dissolves and disperses into the liquid as the component is being cleaned.

Rust and oxidation can be removed using a mild acid ultrasonic cleaning solution. The mild acid solution, an oxide remover, is appropriate for applications where the surface of the part has been coated with oxidation. Rust, oxidation, carbons, and oils are removed using a “shellac-buster” solvent replacement ultrasonic cleaning solution. Shellac-busters work well in situations where kerosene or another solvent may have once been applied. In a similar way to alkaline agents, solvent replacement agents remove oxidation and break down ionic bonds while working more quickly and safely.

What Contaminants Do Ultrasonic Cleaners Remove?

In general, an ultrasonic cleaner can remove contaminants as long as they can be removed from the surface they are on. Contaminants that could require numerous applications of elbow grease can be removed in a short amount of time. To remove soot from smoke-damaged items, for example, disaster restoration companies will use ultrasonic cleaning. Watch this brief video of dirt being blasted off the surface of a copper part to get an idea of the impressive results users can observe.

How Can I Use An Ultrasonic Cleaner To Its Full Potential?

Choosing the best temperature for operation, managing the type of ultrasonic cleaning solution used, cleaning cycle length, tank size, and frequency are all important factors in getting the best outputs from an ultrasonic cleaner. Keep the following in mind to maintain the performance of an ultrasonic cleaning system:

  • It’s not necessary to use a brand-new ultrasonic cleaning solution for every cleaning. However, the cleaning process is hampered by the agent’s obvious degradation.
  • Keep the heat at a good level; check the directions on your chemicals for the recommended operating temperature. The cavitation process is compromised by excessive heat. Do not boil the agent.
  • Spend the right amount of time cleaning.
  • For the kind of cleaning you want, pick the appropriate ultrasonic cleaning solution.
  • Immediately after filling with brand-new ultrasonic cleaning solution, make sure your system is de-gassed.

What is Degassing?

Degassing is the process of expelling trapped dissolved oxygen from a liquid. The presence of dissolved oxygen that is trapped in the ultrasonic cleaning solution will make it more difficult for ultrasonic cleaning systems to perform their cleaning function. De-gassing is required to get rid of the dissolved oxygen from the system.

How Can an Ultrasonic Cleaning System Be Degassed?

This is accomplished by simply starting the system while the tank is empty of dirty components and properly filled with ultrasonic cleaning solution. Run the ultrasonic cleaning system for the amount of time specified in the owner’s or setup manual that was included.

When Should Ultrasonic Cleaning Solutions Be Changed?

For each cycle of cleaning, a different cleaning solution is not required. However, it might be necessary to top off the tank with new solution if the cleaning cycle’s efficacy noticeably declines or if there is obvious dirt or debris in the fluid.

How Long Should an Ultrasonic Cleaning Cycle Be?

There is no “typical” cleaning cycle or duration. The length of the cleaning cycle depends on a number of factors, including how dirty the part is, the tank’s temperature, how clean the part needs to be, and the state of the ultrasonic cleaning solution. An experienced operator might be able to estimate and guess how long it will take to clean an object, but in the end, it will still be necessary to inspect the object to see if the desired level of cleanliness has been achieved.

Factors that can improve or reduce the efficacy of cleaning

The cleaning power of an ultrasonic cleaner can be increased or decreased depending on a number of factors. The physical characteristics of the cleaning solution (or other liquid medium) through which the ultrasonic waves travel are more important than anyone else. In a nutshell, the electrical power applied to the transducers directly proportionally affects the amplitude of the ultrasonic waves. Cavitation cannot happen unless the electrical power, or the amplitude of these waves, exceeds a minimal threshold value. This threshold value varies due to the characteristics of the cleaning solution, which include its temperature, viscosity, density, vapour pressure, and surface tension. Changes in any one of these characteristics are therefore likely to have an impact on how well the cleaning is done.

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Detergents help to remove patient debris from soiled instruments and improve cleaning efficiency by lowering the surface tension of the water. By (a) making it easier for ultrasonic waves to pass through detergent solution, (b) lowering the minimum amount of ultrasonic energy required for cavitation to happen, and (c) lowering resistance to detergent solution flow through the instrument’s small lumens and orifices, this effect increases cleaning effectiveness. To improve cleaning efficiency, detergents made especially for ultrasonics and known to be compatible with the instruments to be cleaned are advised. The most popular detergent formulations for use in hospitals with ultrasonic cleaners are neutral or alkaline detergents.

Temperature has a big impact on how cleaning works physically and how well it works. The vapour pressure of the detergent solution rises in direct proportion to temperature, and the minimum energy needed for cavitation decreases. Therefore, it is advised to combine the detergent with warm water to increase the efficiency of ultrasonic cleaners. For water-based detergent, temperatures between 11°F and 140°F are typically recommended. Of course, the water’s temperature must not exceed the limits set by the surgical instrument in order to prevent damage. Additionally, using a fresh volume of water for cleaning and rinsing each new batch of soiled instruments may be beneficial because reports suggest that bacteria can grow in the detergent solution (and its aerosols) of the ultrasonic cleaner over the course of the day.

Instrument baskets, trays: Without using instrument baskets, trays, or cassettes that have been specially designed, it is impossible to fully appreciate the advantages of ultrasonic cleaners. To ensure effective passage of the ultrasonic waves, these fixtures are typically made of stainless steel (or another material that reflects sound) and are frequently wired, meshes, or sieve-like in design. Each of these fixtures is essential because;

(a) it increases the instruments’ exposure to the ultrasonic waves;

(b) it reduces the soiled instruments’ movement against one another during ultrasonic cleaning, which can result in expensive instrument damage.

(c) it maximises cleaning effectiveness by preventing the instruments from contacting the bottom of the cleaner’s processing basin (on which the transducers are typically mounted), where they might interfere with the ultrasonic cleaning process.

Instrument arrangement: The arrangement of contaminated instruments in the processing chamber can affect cleaning effectiveness just as much as the detergent selection. Ultrasonic energy is unidirectional, moving through the detergent solution in only one direction from its source (the transducers). By arranging the contaminated instruments in the processing basket (or tray) to maximise their exposure to and contact with the ultrasonic waves, this potential limitation can be removed. The most heavily soiled surface of the contaminated instrument should be placed toward the bottom of the ultrasonic cleaner’s processing basin to maximise cleaning efficiency. Even though it isn’t usually necessary, if the instrument is extremely dirty, rotating it and repeating the ultrasonic cleaning cycle to expose all of its surfaces to the ultrasonic energy may be advised.

Cleaning time: The amount of time needed to clean an instrument depends on a number of variables, including the type and temperature of the detergent, the number and arrangement of contaminated instruments in the processing basin, the degree of contamination (such as whether it is lightly or heavily soiled), and the frequency and power of the ultrasonic cleaner.

Air bubbles: Cleaning time is also impacted by the presence of air bubbles in the cleaning medium. Ultrasonic waves, in contrast to audible sound waves produced by stereo speakers, need a liquid medium to be transmitted effectively. Consequently, ultrasonic energy cannot effectively clean the surfaces of instruments that are covered in air bubbles. Additionally, if there are still air pockets between the instruments, ultrasonic energy cannot effectively clean them. Similar to this, detergent solutions containing bubbles of air or other gases are likely to obstruct the effective transmission of ultrasonic waves, decreasing the effectiveness of cleaning. Degassing, or the removal of air and other gases from detergent solution or another liquid medium, can be anticipated once the ultrasonic cleaning cycle is initiated.

Intensity and energy distribution: The majority of quantitative methods for determining how well an ultrasonic cleaner cleans can be very time-consuming and difficult, and they typically call for at least some subjective interpretation of the results. However, some techniques might be useful in underestimating how effective they are at cleaning. For instance, the “aluminium foil erosion test” assesses the cleaner’s ultrasonic energy’s intensity and distribution. A water-filled processing chamber for the cleaner has several fresh sheets of aluminium foil arranged vertically in the centre. (Detergent is not used because the goal of this test is to measure the distribution and intensity of ultrasonic energy, not cleaning efficiency.) The sheets are examined for signs of erosion or damage after several cycles. The intensity and distribution of the cavitation are more powerful and uniform the more significant and uniform the damage is to the foil.

Power of cavitation: By putting samples of a smooth material, like gypsum, in the processing chamber filled with water, the cavitational power of the ultrasonic cleaner can be assessed. Changes in the weights of the samples indicate mechanical erosion brought on by cavitation when they are weighed both before and after being exposed to the cleaner’s ultrasonic energy. Typically, increasing the ultrasonic energy’s strength will increase incavitation activity, which will increase the weight loss in the samples. Cavitation activity can also be visually assessed by looking for erosion on the sample’s surface. (Detergent is not used because the goal of this test is to evaluate ultrasonic power rather than cleaning efficiency.)

Cleaning effectiveness: To assess how well ultrasonic cleaners clean, a number of tests have been proposed. Although it is subjective, visual assessment of how much patient soil has been removed from a contaminated instrument can be a reliable indicator of cleaning effectiveness. By measuring and comparing the levels of a radioactively-tagged substance, such as blood, before and after ultrasonic cleaning, other, more quantitative tests can evaluate cleaning effectiveness. The expected effectiveness of the ultrasonic cleaner will increase with the degree of difference between these two levels. It has also been reported that the amount of protein (such as blood) that an ultrasonic cleaner removes from an instrument can be measured using optical density and micro-assay techniques. In general, ultrasonic cleaners are anticipated to reduce patient soil on surfaces by at least 99.9%.


Ultrasonic cleaners have been demonstrated to be more effective and efficient than manual scrubbing, which is frequently laborious and whose results are frequently insufficient and unpredictable. They also increase the productivity of reprocessing staff while minimizing the staff’s exposure to contaminated instruments. The sporicidal abilities of liquid chemical sterilant have reportedly been improved by ultrasonic energy, among other less obvious advantages. According to one study, the time required by ultrasonic energy to kill bacterial endospores in a glutaraldehyde solution was reduced from 3.5 hours to 30 minutes. In order to make up for the lower sterility assurance levels of low-temperature sterilization processes compared to thermal sterilization, which are becoming more and more popular, more emphasis and importance must be placed on optimizing the effectiveness of the cleaning process.


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