If you have tough cleaning jobs characterized by heavy, tenacious contaminants or run cleaning cycles over long periods of time, regardless of part size, you should consider an industrial ultrasonic cleaner. This post describes the various features and functions offered by industrial ultrasonic washers and how they contribute to achieving desired results.
What is an Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaner?
You might think an industrial ultrasonic washer must be “big” because they handle industrial products. Not necessarily so. Your industrial parts washer size (or cleaning solution capacity) is governed by the size of parts you are cleaning. Industrial ultrasonic cleaners are offered as benchtop and floor mounted models.
Another consideration to keep in mind is the duration of your cleaning cycles. ong-term cleaning cycles (i.e. operating continuously over a work shift) mean your unit should have a heavy-duty tank to prolong service life.
An example is the heavy-duty, Elma xtra TT series benchtop industrial ultrasonic cleaner with tank sizes from 0.79 to 4.8 gallons. These are designed for industrial ultrasonic parts washing.
Another example is the large-scale, Shiraclean floor-mounted ultrasonic cleaners with 5 tank capacities from 25 to 110 gallons.
Other examples of differing capacities and features are identified later in this post.
Two Basic Features in Selecting Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaners
Here we list what may be called critical and important points to consider when selecting your industrial ultrasonic washer.
1. Be Sure your Unit will Handle the Parts
- Purchase an industrial ultrasonic washer that will allow largest parts to be fully immersed in the cleaning solution. Check what is called the working depth of an ultrasonic cleaner. This is defined as the distance between the parts basket bottom or bottom rack and the surface of the cleaning solution. If you use baskets to hold your parts keep in mind that baskets are slightly smaller than tank internal dimensions. If data sheets do not provide this information ask the vendor.
- How heavy are the parts? This will determine if they (1) are cleaned in baskets (2) are suspended from overhead or (3) rest on racks built into the tank bottom
- Do not overload the bath – efficiency drops off. You’ll get better results when cleaning several smaller batches than one large batch.
- For best results parts should not be in contact with each other.
2. Use the Correct Ultrasonic Frequency
Ultrasonic cleaning occurs when billions of microscopic vacuum bubbles implode against surfaces being cleaned to blast loose and carry away contaminants.
Bubbles are created by generator-powered ultrasonic transducers bonded to the bottom (and sides in some models) of the industrial ultrasonic cleaner tank.
As they vibrate at frequencies measured in kilohertz (kHz or thousands of cycles per second) they cause the bottom of the tank to perform as a membrane, thus creating the bubbles.
- Lower frequencies such as 25 kHz produce larger cavitation bubbles. When these bubbles implode they release a larger amount of cleaning energy. For extremely dirty parts such as removing lapping abrasives or polishing paste, a lower frequency will be more effective.
- Higher frequencies produce smaller cavitation bubbles. These cover fine featured complex surfaces more thoroughly, penetrate small holes and crevices and are more gentle than low frequencies.
Most ultrasonic washers operate between 35 and 45 kHz, a range well suited to the vast majority of industrial ultrasonic cleaning tasks. An example of the 37 kHz ultrasonic washers is the Elmasonic E+ series; another is the Elmasonic Select line offering additional features.
For small parts requiring long cleaning cycles, a good candidate is the Elma xtra TT benchtop ultrasonic series in four tank sizes from 0.79 to 4. gallons and designed to operate continuously to 8 hours.
When cleaning a variety of materials consider a benchtop dual-frequency ultrasonic cleaner. An example is the Elmasonic P series operating at 37 and 80 kHz. Larger capacity ultrasonic cleaning is accomplished in the Elmasonic X-tra ST series in 7 tank sizes from 8 to 67 gallons. These units can be set at 25 kHz for basic cleaning or 45 kHz for fine cleaning.
For more on this, check our post on ultrasonic cleaner frequency and power.
Seven Important Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaner Features
- Temperature controls let you set cleaning solution temperature to the level recommended by the cleaning solution manufacturer.
- Timers control the duration of the cleaning cycle. Some units are designed to start cavitation when the selected temperature is reached and shut down at the end of the cycle.
- Degas mode speeds the removal of trapped air in fresh cleaning solutions An alternative is allowing the equipment operate for a period of time without a load.
- Sweep provides a slight ± fluctuation in the ultrasonic frequency and serves to even out the cleaning action to avoid “hot spots” or possibly damaging cavitation action, “dead zones” or no cleaning action, and harmonic vibrations that could damage delicate parts such as printed circuit boards.
- Pulse mode boosts ultrasonic power up to 20% to remove stubborn contaminants.
- Dynamic mode alternates between sweep and pulse for optimized cleaning
- While more ultrasonic power usually indicates faster and more effective cleaning, more power is not always better. Too much power can damage delicate items. If you are cleaning a variety of products adjustable power is a useful feature. An example is the benchtop Elmasonic P series.
Typical Applications for an Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaner
The extent and type of contamination (i.e. dirt, gunk, greases and oils) to be removed may require longer cleaning cycles, pointing to the selection of an industrial ultrasonic cleaner. The following examples provide you with greater detail on when and how these units are used.
- Automotive and power train ultrasonic cleaning and degreasing.
- Ultrasonic cleaning costly plastic injection molds to maintain quality output.
- Cleaning stamped metal parts to be painted, plated or anodized is very important to insure proper adhesion of the finish.
- Safely remove 3-D printing mold support.
- Degreasing heavy parts.
- Nondestructive testing of aircraft engine parts.
Selecting and Maintaining Cleaning Solutions for an Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaner
We hope the above information proves helpful as you select the industrial ultrasonic cleaner you need to meet your requirements.
But an equally critical consideration is the proper commercial ultrasonic cleaning solution to do the job most efficiently.
Today’s biodegradable cleaning solution concentrates are a far cry from the environmentally unfriendly formulas used in the past. Check out our tips on selecting an ultrasonic cleaning solution.
Cleaning solution performance is extended when steps are taken to remove accumulated contaminants dislodged by the cleaning process. Maintenance procedures are described in user manuals. Larger industrial units may employ skimmers and filters to do the job.
Cleaning with Flammable Solvents
Discussions and examples thus far involve using commercial ultrasonic cleaners with biodegradable, water-based cleaning solutions, described just above.
When flammable solvents such as IPA, toluene and acetone are required special care must be taken to avoid the real danger of a fire or explosion if spilled solvent or vapors are ignited by sparks from internal electronics or external sources.
If your requirements call for the use of flammable solvents, we invite you to check our post on ultrasonic cleaning with flammable solvents. It describes equipment options you can consider and directs you to another resource on the topic that provides examples where explosion-proof ultrasonic cleaners are used.
Guide to Performance for Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaners
Here are some of the industrial ultrasonic cleaners we offer.
4 Benchtop x-tra TT Cleaners 0.79 to 4.8 gallons capacity, 3-year tank warranty
If you clean small to medium-sized parts, have demanding production schedules and must meet strict cleanliness requirements an elma x-tra TT industrial ultrasonic cleaner is a great choice.
- Permanent sweep mode assures even cleaning throughout the bath
- User-activated dynamic mode boosts cleaning power when needed
- Timer for 1 to 30 minutes or up to 8 hours continuous operation
- Control cleaning solution temperature to 80⁰C, safety cutoff at 90⁰
- Shipped with lid to reduce noise and solution evaporation
7 Floor-Mounted dual-frequency xtra ST Cleaners 8 to 67 gallons, 3-year tank warranty
When cleaning large products the caster-mounted dual-frequency elma xtra ST units let you roll your industrial ultrasonic cleaners where needed, requiring only a power source. Dual-frequency capability handles tough and gentle cleaning tasks. Ideal for cleaning critical components used in processing lines, thus minimizing down time.
- Select 25 kHz for coarse cleaning, 45 kHz for fine cleaning
- Sweep mode for even cleaning throughout the bath
- Powerful user-activated pulse mode blasts away stubborn contaminants
- Select dynamic sweep/pulse mode for the best of both options
- Auto-start at 30⁰ to 80⁰C; auto shutoff at 90⁰C or after 12 hours continuous operation
SHIRACLEAN Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaners with Solution Filtration
5 caster-mounted 40 kHz models with capacities from 25 to 110 gallons
From aerospace to auto restoration, save time, labor and cleaning solution life using the SHIRACLEAN for cleaning a wide variety of parts more quickly and more effectively, without toxic chemicals. These units deliver professional results and extend the effectiveness of ultrasonic cleaning solutions using weirs, spray bars and filters.
- Fully insulated stainless steel tank maintains temperature, reduces noise
- Digital temperature control for optimum cleaning solution performance
- Low liquid level sensor helps avoid equipment damage
- Permanent sweep for uniform cleaning action
- Digital timer-controlled ultrasound
- Hinged stainless steel cover reduces noise and evaporation
- Two-year parts warranty
Custom Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaning Units
When “off the shelf” units as described above cannot meet your requirements, a customized ultrasonic cleaning system can be created with tank dimensions, cleaning cycles, heating and ultrasonic power, electrical power supply, cleaning solutions and accessories based on your specific requirements. The Tovatech engineering team is competent, flexible and quick, designing and building your system in a short time period.
Industrial Ultrasonic Cleaner Investment Considerations
Cost-benefit analyses are important to any investment in plant and equipment. When it comes to cleaning industrial parts – or any part for that matter – time saved to achieve desired results is an important consideration.
As a start, download our latest Pricing Guide to get an idea of costs involved.
But before making your final decision we encourage you to contact the scientists at Tovatech. We are ready to help you select the best industrial ultrasonic cleaner for your requirements, whether benchtop, floor mounted, or custom.