How to Select Ultrasonic Cleaner Accessories

Ultrasonic cleaner accessories
Ultrasonic cleaner accessories

Think of selecting ultrasonic cleaner accessories as though you are buying a new car.  You have the choice of standard equipment and equipment or features that are “optional at extra cost.”

The “options” largely depend on the ultrasonic cleaner manufacturer.  This is why it is important for you to have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish in your ultrasonic cleaning process.  Our post on ultrasonic cleaner application ideas provides a good tutorial on this.

This post is designed to help you select ultrasonic cleaning accessories that are either required to help you quickly and successfully accomplish your ultrasonic cleaning tasks or simply “nice to have.”

Similarly this post does not go into detail on selecting a specific ultrasonic cleaner.  That is generally based on the size of your operations and what you intend to do with the equipment.  We cover this topic in our post on selection and operating tips for ultrasonic cleaners.

A Check List of Ultrasonic Cleaner Accessories

Right from the start, selecting from lists of accessories, as noted above, depends in many instances on the equipment manufacturer.  What is “standard” and what is “optional.”

Options add to the cost.  But they also can improve your cleaning efficiency and ultrasonic cleaning thoroughness.

So, with that introduction, here we go:

Basic Ultrasonic Cleaner Accessories

Ultrasonic cleaner baskets and accessories

Ultrasonic Cleaning Baskets.  Most ultrasonic cleaning is accomplished in baskets, either with a mesh bottom or fully meshed.  These support products being cleaned and hold them off the bottom of the tank.

Baskets are sized to fit tank dimensions.  They may or may not come with the cleaner but they are definitely required.  Unless you have an industrial cleaner with racks on the bottom or you suspend parts in the solution from overhead, you will need a basket.  Other options for handling parts are described later in this post.

Ultrasonic Cleaner Lids.  Lids perform two functions.  They reduce cleaning solution evaporation and they reduce noise.  As with baskets, lids may or may not come with the unit.  Some cleaners such as the Elmasonic E+ series available from Tovatech are supplied with lids.  When a cleaning cycle is completed baskets can be placed on the lids to catch cleaning solution runoff, which then can be returned to the cleaning tank.

Lids are particularly important when using lower ultrasonic frequencies in large tanks.  You may have the option of purchasing a standard or insulated lid.  Our post on ultrasound and noise provides more information on this topic.

Ultrasonic Cleaner Accessories for Parts Positioning

Positioning parts correctly in an ultrasonic cleaner is a key consideration to achieving a thorough cleaning job.  It is important that ultrasonic cavitation has free access to all surfaces.  Our  posts regularly mention that parts should be separated to the extent possible during cleaning cycles.

It might be necessary to remove the basket and rearrange the parts if they have complex shapes.  (Don’t reach into an operating cleaner.)  Parts positioning accessories can help assure satisfactory results.

  • Fine screen immersion baskets are ideal for cleaning very small parts. These are placed in the regular cleaning basket or can be suspended in the cleaning solution or into beakers with different cleaning solution formulations.  Beakers rest on the bottom of the basket.
  • Glass beakers can be used as described just above and below. They can be placed in a basket or suspended from holders as described below.  Ultrasound penetrates the glass and produces cavitation in the beaker.
  • Holders for glass beakers and plastic lids in the form of tank covers with holes allow positioning of samples at the correct depth in a water bath. Beakers are fitted into rubber rings to accomplish this.  Lightly capped beakers are an excellent way to clean small parts with solvents. (Note that special precautions are required when cleaning with volatile solvents.)
  • Erlenmeyer flask clamps are attached to the bottom of the basket
  • Test tube holders hang from the top rim of the tank.
  • Jewelry racks and small parts holders equipped with hooks and supported by the tank walls suspend parts in the cleaning solution.
  • Cleaning 8-inch fine mesh sieves is accomplished by combining the Elma SRH 4/200 rotating sieve cleaner with an Elmasonic E+ or S 300H ultrasonic cleaner, all available from Tovatech.  A more specialized solution is the Elma S50R unit especially designed for sieve cleaning and solvent degassing. It has many of its own accessories.  Contact Tovatech for details.
  • Acid-resistant tubs are required when using highly acidic cleaning solutions that will damage cavitation-resistant stainless steel cleaning tanks. These are inserted in the tank partially filled with water treated with a surfactant.   Ultrasonic waves pass through the tub and act on parts immersed in the acid.
  • Cooling coils are called for if bath temperature increases beyond acceptable limits. Note that temperature increases are a byproduct of ultrasonic cavitation. The coil is fitted to tank walls. Its inlet and outlet tubes are attached to a re-circulating cold water supply.

Selecting Ultrasonic Cleaner Operating Accessories  

Depending on the make and model of ultrasonic cleaners, buyers have a broad selection of operating features – or control features.

They can range from a simple on-off switch to the ability to set cleaning solution temperature, cleaning time, ultrasonic frequency, ultrasonic power, a degas mode, a sweep or normal mode and a pulse mode.    These are briefly presented in our post on key points to selecting an ultrasonic cleaner.

But there are more options.  Again, whether your need them or would like to have them is up to you and how important they are to assuring satisfactory ultrasonic cleaning jobs.

Parts Oscillation and Ultrasonic Cleaning

This is a bit of an aside from our main topic but something to be aware of. It fits  between basic features and discussions below on periphery accessories.  It also applies chiefly to industrial ultrasonic cleaning although oscillation enhances all cleaning operations whether manual or automatic. It can apply to cleaning and rinsing. 

Useful Ultrasonic Cleaner Periphery Accessories

These are defined as equipment or accessories that are not generally attached to the ultrasonic cleaner itself.  We provide examples below in a list that is not all-inclusive.

Noise Suppression. Expanding on a function of lids, controlling/minimizing noise is an increasingly important consideration in the workplace.  While the term “ultrasonic” is generally defined as sound above the range of human hearing,  ultrasonic cleaners, especially those operating at lower frequencies, generate noise as described in the post noted above.

A recommended accessory is a noise suppression box into which benchtop ultrasonic cleaners can be placed .  These can reduce noise levels 3 to 4 times in decibels.  They are equipped with exhaust fans to vent cleaning solution vapors.

Similar noise-abatement solutions are available for floor-mounted industrial ultrasonic cleaners.

  • Parts Rinsing Options can assure the removal of cleaning solution residues dragged out when parts are taken from the cleaning bath. Options range from wash sprays, rinsing tanks and ultrasonic rinsing tanks. Several rinsing steps may apply  and depend on applicable cleanliness standards.
  • Parts dryers. When thoroughly dried parts are required a drying system should be employed rather than relying on flash drying that occurs when parts are hot. Large parts with complex shapes that can hold water call for electrically heated dryers using re-circulated hot air.  Examples include the Elma Dry benchtop, the ULT front-loading and WLT top-loading dryers available from Tovatech.
  • Pump and Filtration Equipment is especially important when operating ultrasonic cleaners containing a large volume of cleaning solution. An example is the dual filter system that removes pump-damaging hard particles in the first stage then smaller contaminants in the second. Treated solution is returned to the tank.  Filters are replaceable.

Summing it Up on Ultrasonic Cleaner Accessories

Your investment in an ultrasonic cleaner can be more quickly repaid if you’re equipped with ultrasonic cleaner accessories to take on specialized cleaning tasks.  For more information please contact the ultrasonic cleaning professionals at Tovatech for advice on equipment and cleaning solution selection based on your operations and requirements.

About Rachel Kohn

So how did an MIT Ph.D. end up selling refrigerators? When I figured out that a lot more scientists buy lab refrigerators than innovative leading-edge instruments. I hope that my many years of lab experience will help you find the right equipment for your work. Before co-founding Tovatech I worked in business development and project management at Smiths Detection, Photon-X, Cardinal Health, and Hoechst Celanese. And before that I spent 12 years as an R&D chemist at Hoechst Celanese and Aventis working on advanced drug delivery systems, polymer films and membranes, optical disks, and polysaccharides. Some day, eventually, I’ll make enough money to develop an innovative technology that will change the world. Read More